3 unexpected things I Learned from Living with my Partner
For the first time ever, I am living with my significant other. He moved in to my apartment about six months ago. Though I knew there were changes to come with such a large step in our relationship, there were still some adjustments that surprised me.
1. At first, it is difficult to get anything done
No, I am not talking about sex when I say it is hard to get things done.
My partner and I have day jobs and we both work on our art (or in my case, art, and blogging) in our free time. We constantly balance our personal work and our personal lives.
When we first began dating and lived apart, such a balance was easy. We spent most of our weekends together doing whatever we pleased--at times it was work, but more often than not we watched bad movies and took naps and went out for dinner. During the weekdays, we were usually apart. We went to work and spent time on our personal projects. As we were not in the vicinity of one another, we felt no obligation to drop our work and shower the other with attention.
Skip to our first few months living together and we were getting nothing done. It was difficult to fall out of old habits. Being in the same space always meant "spend time together.” Yet now we were near one another all. the. time. Our personal work suffered, our routines deteriorated, and we both became anxious and a bit snappy. We needed our free time.
It took us almost a month before we learned how to divvy our time. Our first step was to split up in the house. My partner works in the spare bedroom—his studio—and I bounce between the bedroom, living room, and my own studio (out of town).
Our second step was to create “work times.” Our times are not concrete, but when we decide we need to spend our undivided attention on single task, we simply inform one other. He will tell me, “I am going to be in the studio for a few hours,” and off he goes. Sure, I do still occasionally bother him when he’s working, but I try, for the most part, to stay give him his space as he does for me.
2. We have to remind ourselves to go on dates
This may be the most frustrating part of living with a partner: we forget to woo one another. It is easy to fall into a routine: come home, eat dinner while watching tv, work on our own projects, stare at our smartphones, go to bed. We may chat with one another between each of these activities, but our undivided attention is rarely afforded to the other person.
Since living together, we are working on scheduling in dates. A date does not have to be dinner and a movie. Simple things like attending a yoga class, playing video games together, or having dinner without screens, works just as well.
In an article from Huff Post, educator Matt Garrett of Relationships Australia, states, "The most important message a date night or special occasion or catch up -- whatever form it takes -- conveys to the couple is that they are creating a unique and special space for one another."
That is our goal, to create a space of full attention and intention for one another.
3. Habits have to change (a lot)
I am sure most of us know that whenever you move in with a new individual, your habits will shift. Such changes can be large or small. Perhaps you take a shower twenty minutes later than you used to so that your roommate can have the bathroom before you. Or maybe you clean the living room more often to ensure your shared space remains tidy. Whatever it may be, we all alter our lifestyles to compensate for our new living partners.
I expected the same shifts to occur with my partner when he moved in. However, there were a lot more adjustments than I anticipated. I will keep it short, but here are just a few of the changes we have made thus far:
- My alarm goes off at 5 and I am a notorious snoozer. For a while, I had to force myself to wake up on the first ring so as to let my partner sleep in
- I now change in my partner’s studio in the morning so as not to wake him by snooping through our bedroom closet. This means I usually plan out my outfits the night before a workday and place them in the other room
- Grocery runs are far more expensive than they used to be.
- We go through so much food and beer on a weekly basis now.
- My partner had to start integrating more protein into his diet to compensate for a lack of protein. Whenever we cook, the meals are meatless (as I am vegetarian) and the soy/beans/eggs just were not cutting it for him. Now he makes turkey burgers, extra eggs, or eats lunch meat with our meals to stay healthy.
- Eventually, I kept hitting snooze on my alarm (oops) and now my partner is as good as me at sleeping through the blaring beep beep beep.
None of these three changes are bad. For the most part, they make us better people and our relationship has grown through our compromises and adjustments. Later, my partner will share what he has learned about living together as well.
What about you? When you first moved in with your partner, what adjustments did you have to make?