AT HOME: cohabitation

Today my husband departed for a weekend away, which brought with it a mix of emotions. First, sadness since I would miss sharing the weekend together. Second, relief because I knew I would have a few, uninterrupted days to focus on whatever I wanted or needed to get done. (Two very different things, as I’d like to spend tomorrow having ‘Lise’s Day of Beauty’, but will – in actuality – spend it working and cleaning house.)

It is not unusual for us to have time apart; in fact, I was away with friends sans husband last weekend due to a last-minute change in his work schedule. But this time has really prompted me to think about how living together has changed our relationship since its early days. Leaving to go abroad, we moved in together for the first time. This was a slight compromise on my part, as I had not intended to live together before marriage, partially because I was hanging on to the lessons that had been drummed into my head from a very young age. I thought certainly that it would doom our marriage, as I had so often heard the religious right espouse. But the fact is, we wanted to live together, we were committed to the idea of marriage, and it just made good, practical sense.

Moving in together, and having to be so very dependent upon one another in a land where we did not have social networks, quickly changed the dynamic of our relationship. We struggled with the ups and downs of adjusting our expectations and habits to share a space; we grew closer (literally – 65 square metres – and figuratively) because of it. But it’s been tough going for us, as I suspect it is for most couples. Don’t get me wrong, as much as we like to consider ourselves independent operators and pursue our own passions, we love time together. It’s just that it was easier when it was on our own terms in our own space.

My one tip for those living together for the first time, is an easy one.

BREATHE

Simply put, just take good, long, deep breaths before getting worked up about anything. Husband leave dirty dishes in the sink? Take a deep breath and ask yourself how much that matters in the grand scheme of things. Wife take a long shower and use all the hot water? Again, just take a breath. It is hard adjusting your lifestyle to suit the needs of others, whether it be a husband, wife, sibling or flatmate. But it’s so much easier when it’s approached in a calm, clear, rational and respectful manner. Since teaching ourselves this trick (and it didn’t come quickly, mind you), we have reduced our bickering significantly.

Do you have tips for co-existence in a small space?

(Photo Credit: KeepCalmPoster on etsy.com)

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