I lived with a girlfriend for about a year and a half. For the most part, it was very, very easy.
I’m not quite sure what types of quibbles other couples have when they live with one another, but C and I simply didn’t have them. We lived together really well. Having two bathrooms certainly helped, and C was good not to complain about my desire to keep the temperature around 78 degrees year-round. We each had different duties around the house based on what we cared about–for example, I scooped cat poop because I didn’t want our cats stepping in 3-day-old cat poop. C cleaned the floors because she cared about clean floors. I took out the trash because it was on my way to my car; C picked up the mail because it was on her way in from her car.
All was good.
Except it really wasn’t. Because when it came to hanging out at home, C had two very different lifestyles. She really enjoyed relaxing in front of the TV after work–for hours. I like TV, but I pretty much only watch it during dinner. After dinner, I was off to my room to work on my blog, writing, and other projects.
We were separated by about 20 feet and a closed door (I can’t write if I can hear the TV), but the gap was much wider than that.
If we had both vegged out in front of the TV together, I think we would have been happy. We might even still be together. Or if C had come to the bedroom and worked on her own projects with me, things might have been different. But because we were exact opposites in those regards, we really weren’t all that good for each other when we lived together.
And it’s not just C. Judging from the way I am with my personal space, I have a feeling this will be the situation with any woman I live with.
I recently talked to another young couple who experienced a similar situation when they got married and moved in with each other. The husband wanted his own space and privacy to work, and the wife wanted to hang out and joke around and talk (not necessarily watch TV. I think C would have been up for talking more too).
The interesting thing about this couple–and possibly their saving grace–was that they decided to create what us Catholics call an “intentional community” in their home. They invited other young Catholic men and women to live with them and be intentional about creating a small faith community.
As it turned out, having extra people around worked out perfectly for their living situation. The husband could work on his projects knowing that his wife was a few rooms away getting generous doses of social time with their housemates. Of course, he joins them from time to time too, but most of his social time with them is at dinner.
So this makes me wonder–what if the key ingredient I need to live with a woman is…another housemate. A third party. Someone that we both know and are friends with who can provide that social outlet at home that my woman needs. I think that would not only free me to have my own space, but it would also free me to be more efficient with my own space so I can join the conversation more often.
For those of you who have lived with a significant other, what do you think about this? Note that I don’t think this could work with any third party. It can’t just be random Joe Needsahome. You’d have to be intentional about your selection.