Last week, Ali Brown asked me, in comments, to talk about the difference between living with someone before and after marriage. I had to think about this for a little bit because the difference between the day we headed to the airport and the day we returned, married, was non-existent as far as this being home, being where we live, and being relieved to be back in it. The changes of marriage were way deeper than the space we shared, and had been sharing for a little over a year.
But! If we’re talking just about living together, I have to be honest that I would have never lived with anyone – including Kamel – unless we were engaged. I did not feel comfortable putting all my eggs in one basket and opening myself up to the drama of a breakup AND a move-out. And because we were engaged once we did move in together, I think we both had the mindset that we were beginning to build our family, so it wasn’t just about sharing a space it was building a home right from the get-go.
At first it was AWESOME! Yay living together! And then the growing part started. Where we screamed at each other because “why aren’t you listening to me?!” and “why am I the only person who cares about NOT living in a total MESS?!” and “You are not my mom/dad/in charge of me!!!” There was a battle. We were engaged, we were building a life together, we had a future, and we would fix something, compromise on something, and then another issue would pop up. It was like wack-a-mole. He had never had to live with anyone who was affected by his daily decisions before, and I had never had to share or compromise with things like the bathroom, sleep schedules, and free time.
The first 6 months? 8 months? Were a lot of work. And I think that if we hadn’t been engaged (knowing that this living situation was non-negotiable, that this was how it was going to be for… ever) it wouldn’t have been as much work. I think we would have had more separate lives, like room mates who shared a bed. Because, there is something very different between dating and building your own little family.
But now! After going through the first year of living together and all of the work engagement demanded (all of the discussions that were brought to the forefront), things are really nice. He still makes me want to push him down the stairs sometimes, but things are just … calm here. Our biggest fight since being married was about luggage.
I think it’s a gift to have the ability to come back from your wedding to an established home and be able to sink into it after so much thoughtful, emotional energy has been spent.