First year of marriage series part 2
Read part 1 here
Changing the status quo
My husband and I recently moved out of the suburbs where we grew up to a brand new and much bigger city, where much of the amenities are not quite the same as what we’ve been used to for so long. After living with your parents for much of your life, driving home from school or work the same way and always stopping at the same coffee shops, it becomes difficult to adapt and change; difficult to leave parts of your old life behind. Sometimes it even takes a late night at work, a lot of traffic and some frustration to force you into trying something new, to allow yourself to adapt to change. When Scott and I first moved to our new home, we were both very excited about starting this new chapter in our lives and finally getting the chance to live and change together.
Buying a new home changes your perspective on your life, your priorities, and your partner. Scott and I toyed with the idea of living together for many years, however, my somewhat “traditional” position on this matter really never changed. Being caught somewhere between a “traditional” and “modern” woman, I often thought we should test it out; try living together before taking that big leap, but my instinct was always to wait. We dated for so long that it seemed inevitable that we would be perfect roommates. Scott, being a little bit more liberal than me, felt that we could live together and it would be perfectly fine; but he is a selfless enough person to step back and let me make a choice that I felt comfortable with. My original plan was to at least wait until we were engaged, but the engagement was so short and so much of our time was spent wedding planning that we decided to live together once we got back from the honeymoon; a completely traditional choice. I told Scott that I wanted it to feel like a new chapter in our relationship and I am so happy that we made this choice.
We started house hunting soon after we were engaged. Our two very close friends, a couple that we’ve known for years, helped us start this process. She is a wedding planner and her now fiancé is a real estate agent. We call them “the life starters.” We were lucky enough to have people like this helping us through this hectic process; I would not recommend house hunting and wedding planning in the same year unless you seek help from the “life starters”; it’s a little crazy.
After months of looking in our preferred area, we finally found our home. I say we found our home because this is what it felt like from the moment we walked in, like we were home. As first time buyers we looked at a lot of houses. Some felt like they could work, but not all of them felt like home. I would recommend trusting that feeling when looking for your first home; that feeling like you can see your life happening in the home.
Once we owned the home, there was still about a month and a half before we planned to move in. This was nice because it gave us the time we needed to slowly move out of our parents’ houses. The funny part was that I almost felt as if I was dragging out the process on purpose, like I couldn’t fully let go of my mom and dad’s place and had to leave some of my stuff there. I think the hardest part about starting a “new life” is that you have to leave some of the “old life” behind. Moving out for good is very hard and it took me sometime to realize that it was for real. Well it was real and we really were living together for the first time. This was an amazing and scary thing all at once. For the first time in our relationship it was just us; we made all the choices; furniture and mortgage options. Big or small; the choices were ours and we had to learn to work together when making them.
After many of the bigger choices were made and the decorating was done, the whirlwind of big changes slowed down and we began to establish some routines. This is when we both started to notice a change. The change we noticed was that we had started living together. It might seem strange to say that after about six months of living in the same house that we began living together, but that’s the only way I can describe this change.
Getting used to each other
After we finally settled into the house itself; furnishing complete, bills coming in monthly, wedding stuff finally in the past, all that we had was us. We had to adapt to each other as a couple in a brand new stage of our relationship. Contrary to our original perceptions of a smooth transition into becoming roommates, I do have to say that it has been far from easy. If anyone has ever told you that living together really doesn’t make a huge difference, I’m here to set things straight. While it may be easier for some, I have to be as honest about this as possible and say that we need to stop lying to each other. Living with someone, even if you’ve been dating for nine years, is a huge change and takes a lot of work and copious amounts of patience. Establishing a sense of routine has been difficult, as we are still getting used to each other’s patterns.
Scott is a lot better at going-with-the-flow than I am, so I have had to work at this, as our work schedules are not always the same. Different seasons also call for different household chores that we try to keep equally divided amongst the two of us. Since we are a fairly “modern” couple we have tried to think outside the box in terms of traditional roles; however, we seem to have fallen into what I would consider traditional ‘gender-roles’ unintentionally. While this is the case, by choice, we’ve been trying our best to share the work as much as possible and this is not as easy as we thought it would be. So far, what seems to work best is doing what we feel comfortable with. For example I enjoy cooking and cleaning, it’s like therapy for me, so I do a lot of the indoor work. Scott’s the outdoorsy type and a fantastic handyman so the garden, grass, garbage and big renovations are his things. I know this seems very traditional, but I’m starting to think maybe there is some truth in tradition and when traditional is not working for us, we tell each other. Every couple is different. You have to work from where you are, not base your life on modern or traditional ideologies.
After ten months of marriage, ten months living in the same house and about four solid months of living together we have started to adapt and figure some of this marriage thing out. So far I would say that it begins when you start learning from each other and realize that you really are in this together, as the decisions you or your partner make directly affect the other person. Things seem to work out best when you have each other in mind when making big or small decisions, however maintaining this sense of unity is not always easy and we still have a lot of room to grow as a couple who is now living together.
Flickr photo (cc) by FatMandy