Cohabitation Is Cool

This is the second time that I've cohabitated with someone that I am dating. In the first instance, the person was traveling for work, and I lived in the apartment while he was away, and we would share it for the weekends that he was at home. It worked out to one weekend a month where he was home, the rest of the time I had the place to myself. That first experience taught me a lot. He was a very particular person, and his habits were a little bit different than mine. He did laundry at the same rate in which he lived in his house: once a month. Dishes he did at the end of the weekend before he left, but he would pile them up for the whole four days without washing anything in the interim. And, he was a smoker. There was an ashtray everywhere, and the smell lingered after he left ... you wouldn't realize it until you had left the house for a few minutes and then come back ... it just stayed. What I learned from him was that everyone has their own living M.O. And, it has a serious impact on how you perceive your relationship. He didnt want to clean as often as I did, nor did he want to maintain the sanctuary that I had created for myself in his absence. "It's my space," he would say -- and in some sense he was right. He was paying rent. But, this somewhat callous attitude left me thinking that he didn't take my feelings or needs into consideration. I always found myself opening windows, pretending to choke, spraying air freshener or Febreze everywhere ... all the while thinking that this relationship was never going to last because all he would do is cough, smoke, and make everything smell. In every other sense, we got along famously. He treated me with respect and kindness, he took care of me, we laughed, watched movies ... but living together put a different spin on our relationship. I knew that it wouldn't  last, because I constantly felt as though I was fighting for respect and consideration, and I was kind of a roommate to him rather than being his girlfriend.

I live with my boyfriend now, and things are going much better than they did in the previous instance. He and I have so much in common, and thankfully he neither smokes nor snores. So, what we're tackling now are things that most newlyweds deal with -- but at the same time, we're working on issues that come up with any fledgling relationship, as it's only been about six months that we've been seriously dating. We are finding creative ways to make use of all our space, learning about each other's habits, and adjusting to the new sleep schedules. We're all about compromise, and finding ways to better communicate with each other. I love him because he always stops, and talks slowly, calmly and rationally whenever we have a discussion about something. He practically whispers. We share our living space very well. He wanted creative control of the office, and he gave me decorating control over the bedroom and living areas. But, in reality, we both wanted to compromise with each other and find what worked for the both of us. It's turned out really well. We do our best to be open and honest, and talk to each other at every point. We have our alone time. One thing that's completely different in this relationship is the trust level. In my first cohabitation/relationship experience, we still had boundaries. Now, it's all about the bathroom door being open, and everything else about us being open. A lot of people criticize pre-marital cohabitation and say that it's like being married but it's not, it's having all the perqs of marriage (which in essense means sex) but without the actual commitment ... it's a recipe for disaster, etc. I think that there's no better way to get to know a person better, short of really living in the same city and seeing each other every single day. Our way is boot camp -- we broke down the barriers really quickly, and now we're learning about each other, learning to love each other, and making it work. But, if you're considering living with your fiance before you get married, then I definitely am a proponent. I'll make an admission that I think most married women face in the first month of their marriage, which is, "****, what did I do? Is this the right thing to do? Is he really the one?" Although I know that he is, and that we're going to make it work, I would hate to have misgivings after I'm married, after the initial lovey-dovey, "oh this is so cool we have our new furniture and utensils", "ohhhhh let's keep opening our wedding gifts," feelings of romance fade away.

It's crucial to know, to be disillusioned, to know that the other person is human, and goes to the bathroom and farts and burps, and leaves dishes in the counter, and has hairy legs, and their breath smells in the morning ... and then to love them and want them, and to know that they love you ...

 To know "forever" and to never want to look again, that's an amazing feeling.

PatientRapunzel PatientRapunzel
31-35, F
2 Responses Sep 11, 2006

I couldn't agree more me and my boyfriend got an apartment together this past August. and although we've together for about a year now we're still learning about each other because staying in seperate places and seeing each other only shows a part of you but living with each other shows you everything. Of course we have an occasional argument (mostly over stupid stuff) but what couple don't . So far it's going great he pays the rent(cause he makes more then me) I pay all the utility bills we split the cost of groceries and most of all we have fun with each other. this is the 1st time I've actually got an apartment with my boyfriend. I've lived with guys but it was more like they were living with me in my parents house sounds weird I know but that's how it was. My current living arrangments are great and I couldn't be happier.

I agree with you that living with someone definitely tells you about who they are. I don't know about people already engaged living together though, especially if wedding planning is already underway. It may be the extra little stresses of living together can't be coped with as well as at another time.