Sharing a Home

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.

20 thoughts on “Sharing a Home”

  1. Well said. And I like the idea of sinking in, rather than having to flail about, since the flailing was already done. And ali brown, she sure is fab! great question 🙂

  2. Great post! I think for us the most important thing was establishing alone/friend time. It’s so easy to fall into doing everything together when you live together, but it’s also nice to have time – even if it’s just going for a run or getting the place to yourself – to recharge.

  3. It makes me wonder if all those people who talk about how the first year of marriage is the hardest and so much work., if they lived together before they got married.We also lived together before marriage, for a few years, and went through the adjustment period of learning to live with someone else. But our first year of marriage was a breeze. Its like we got all the tough stuff figured out before we got married, which I think was really important and played a huge role in the kind of marriage we have now.

    1. I think so. There are just THINGS that you have nooo idea will become an issue until you are sharing all of your space with them. Esp if you live in a small place. I do still idealize moving in after marriage though. I think it would be very sweet to come “home” to a house or apartment you had been setting up but not living in until after your wedding. I think it’s nearly impossible to do that simply because of the economy, but if people are able to do it I don’t think it HURTS, I just appreciate the calm after the fact. haha.

    2. Everyone has to deal with all the adjustments of learning to live with your partner, one way or the other. I think the important point is that much of the adjustment has to do with learning to live with another person, and less to do with marriage the institution. We moved in together after the wedding, partly due to living in different states until then, but even if it had been a year in advance, that learning-to-live-together process would be just as fundamental to the marriage we have today. The calm after the fact that Lauren speaks of, though… I can imagine that’s pretty nice 🙂

    3. I’m going to say yes. Other than a few weeks here and there (with the longest stretch being 1 month, and that month packing to move into “our” place), we didn’t live together until after our wedding.

      And our first year WAS hard. Or rather, the first 9 months. These last few? We’ve figured out the little things, and it’s all been much calmer.

      I’m totally guilty of confusing “sorting out living together” drama with “married” drama. But when both are new, you can see how it would happen.

    4. i imagine it varies from couple to couple.

      we moved in together after marriage, and our first year was amazing. everyone kept warning about how hard it was going to be- ESPECIALLY when they heard we hadn’t lived together in advance. and it just wasn’t. it was exciting and fun. we went from saying “goodbye” and going to our separate houses each night, to falling asleep together. i suddenly had the coolest live-in roommate and he was my HUSBAND, too. awesome.

      plus, it was something to look forward to after the honeymoon. we went from amazing party to awesome vacation to our brand new home together. jumping from happiness to happiness.

      1. I still love the fact that our something awesome to come home to after the honeymoon was packing up and moving in to our first HOME. We had lived together nearly 2 years when we got married, and we signed the papers to buy our place the day before the wedding…

        Funnily, I think being homeowners has had a bigger impact on our relationship than being married has.

        1. I envy that! We were long distance and moved in together to be in the same state together, because we knew we were in it forever, but weren’t ready to be married.
          Our first month was really hard (well the first two weeks were lovely, the 4 weeks after that was hard). I think a lot of it was fighting because we knew we were entering forever and freaking out that THIS IS WHAT FOREVER LOOKS LIKE. For me, it was more the pressure of being good enough at being a wonderful partner forever.
          But now everything is so natural. Lovely, but natural and I worry that when we get married it won’t feel different or more special, that we’ve lost that transition. I sorta wish I could have a “we just got engaged/married” and this is our first home feeling.

      2. I second this. Every couple has a different journey to make. We moved into a room together in a shared house in a different country. It was three months before we got our own place and another three years before we got engaged and a year and a half until we were married.
        That being said, the first three months were hellish. But I think that had more to do with the shared-housing situation. Or maybe those issues ecliped the usual ‘moving-in’ issues.
        We had a hard first year, but it was more to do with career changes and identity issues than sharing space. Although, now that I think about it, maybe it was a bit about sharing marriage space and identity.

      3. I totally agree! Our first almost-two-years now have been really great, without that difficult adjustment time I have hard about from so many people. We moved in together after marriage, but have had a smooth process. Maybe the fact that we are both in our thirties and are pretty laid back overall has helped? Dunno.

  4. This : “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. “is exactly how I felt. It is scary sh@t moving in together. And I had been broken up so many times I could not bear it. I thought I was weird in feeling that way, since all around me it is more and more common to “live with your boyfriend” just like that (which is perfectly valid, just not what I was comfortable doing).
    And so true, that adaptation period, where boundaries are set or traditions / needs established. Like the fact that after work, he needs some time for himself to relax and let go (and I would right away tend to start talking like crazy, giving him all kinds of stories and just in general being sticky). I remember at the beginning we would be irritated at each other for reasons that I do not even remember now, so I guess we are through that phase. With talking about those things at that moment of course. It is als a process of knowing each other, of becoming a family like you say. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Having lived through a break-up and move-out previously, I completely agree with your perspective on that – that process was probably the worst three months of my life (because, of course, it takes that long to find a new place – ugh). And I swore then and there that I wouldn’t move in with anyone till I was engaged.

  6. We were on the marriage track when we moved in together. We got engaged about 3 weeks later and announced our engagement about a month after that. It was definitely the right choice for us. I feel like doing it that way, you kind of get the best parts of both. A friend of mine got married after being long distance from her fiance for their entire engagement (he came back 5 days before the wedding) and the Monday after they drove a U-Haul across the country to move for him to start a new job. She’s really happy, but damn I could NOT handle that much change at once.

  7. I always swore I would never live with someone before I was married. Well, joke was on me, because I moved in with my now-husband approximately 6 days after we first hooked up, and now we’re married three years. Looking back, I’m very much glad that we did. There’s so many things that you just don’t know about someone until you’ve actually occupied a living space with them.

  8. I am so delayed on responding to this- it’s what happens when you move and don’t have internet. This post came at a perfect time, as I am now living in the land of “The boyf and I share a home” I love, love, love what you said about coming back from your honeymoon to an established place. How calming (amidst constant stress) to come back and know that your home is waiting for you!

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