Confession #7

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.

See here for my previous confession about my inability to eat at parties.

14 thoughts on “Confession #7”

    • Interesting question. I believe in the sanctity of a marriage between two people. However, SO many people cheat on their spouses that I wonder if, biologically, a monogamous two-person marriage is the healthiest option. I’d like to think that a monogamous two-person marriage would work for me.

      I don’t think I’m really for polygamy in any form (polyamorous is different, though). The one thing I really don’t get about polygamy is that men can have multiple wives, but women can’t have multiple husbands. That seems horribly outdated and sexist.

      What’s your take?

  1. Tim and I don’t live together, but we do spend 6 out of 7 nights a week together, and what has worked for us is a compromise. He likes to read and write and work on his own personal projects. I like to watch TV after work or have drinks or dinner with my friends. Obviously very different pursuits. I make dinner/drink plans with my friends, giving him time to read and write in quiet before we meet up and allowing me to do what I enjoy. Sure, I’d like it better if my significant other were with me, but I still have a good time and I’m happy knowing he is too.

    Together, we’ve found a few TV shows we both enjoy that we can watch together so we can share my appreciation of TV. I also now keep a book or two at both apartments so I always have something to read when we’re having quiet reading / writing time, and have taken up knitting (yes, knitting), as a quiet alternative while Tim is reading.

    I don’t know if every couple needs to be able to share that much time together. Some couples do very well leading separate lives and coming together when they do. But I do agree that each couple needs to come to an understanding of how to balance their time. Ensuring each person gets to have time to do what they love is key, whether that means learning to appreciate the other’s passions or letting them go off and have their passion on their own.

    • I completely agree with Neeraja. What works for one couple is based on the dynamic and personality of that particular couple. If you are the kind of person that needs the significant time for privacy to work on special projects, etc then so be it as long as you make time for what SHOULD come first- time together. It’s not about emeshing oneself in the other, but about spending that quality time. If you can’t find that compromise with your partner then how will do that when you have children?

    • Neeraja–The interesting thing is that your relationship, described as above, sounds almost exactly like my relationship with C. C did, at times, read in the room or work on stuff in the room (we even moved her desk into my room to make that easier. It was the heaviest, least-used desk ever). And I made an effort to join her for special shows that we’d watch outside of dinner time, like The Wire. C often went out with her friends in the evening while I stayed home (I actually regret not joining her a little more often, because as you know, C is good times).

      I can’t speak for your relationship, but I guess I look back on the time that C and I lived together and think, “How did we possibly think that we were moving forward?” We moved in together to grow closer to own another, and yet we spent so much time apart under the same roof. How were we moving closer to what Dionne describes above, a life together where we would share our time and partner with them to raise children?

      The fact is, we weren’t. We barely left our comfort zones at all. Neither of us made the necessary effort to truly entwine ourselves in the other person’s life. This is in stark contrast to Nancy and I, when Nancy made a huge effort to entwine herself in my life, and for a while I did the same (I had to close the gap in the long-distance relationship). But then I stopped doing so. I didn’t want to anymore. I didn’t want to entwine. I just wanted to be myself, be by myself and be with my friends, and I unwrapped myself from Nancy’s life and just focused on mine.

      Dionne notes above that a couple should make time for what comes first–time together. And I think she’s right, at least in a certain stage in a relationship when you’re getting close to taking it to the next level. Right now I read that phrase of Dionne’s and think: That’s the last thing I want right now. I don’t want to put “together time” first. I don’t want to make time for someone else all the time. That’s a clear sign to me that I should steer clear of romantic relationships for a while.

      I think all in all, the point is if people in relationships aren’t moving towards something, even ever so slowly, nothing’s ever going to happen. Entwining has to happen, and not just one entwine and then you stop. People become vines that continually grow all over each other. I know I’m not ready for that–are you?

      • Great reflection Jamey. You know where you are at in your life and you know why. That’s awesome. Do what you need to do for you and when the time is right for you to do or act differently then it will happen organically. As for myself, I’m ready for that long term relationship that will eventually grow into something more. I’ve been ready for many years and look forward to when it does happen for me..organically. I bide my time now, working on personal projects, spending time with friends, and trying new things not because that’s my priority, but because that’s what I’m doing in the meantime (Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy those things I just mentioned) until I’m in a relationship. God and I have had many a chat over this very same topic and I think we’ve finally come to an understanding of sorts…lol.

        • Thanks, Dionne. I think it’s great that while you want a guy in your life, you aren’t waiting around for him–you’re doing your own thing, establishing great friendships, finding hobbies that you’re passionate about. I think all of that will really pay off when you find the man for you.

  2. Living w/ my boyfriend is super easy. There was a lot of concern moving to a new city AND in together all at once. Turns out living together was the easiest part…like not even noticeable that we had moved in together easy. Before we moved we were going to move in together anyway, so it’d been discussed and fretted over. We rarely argue, which was mentioned, then it was mentioned, “Well, what do you do when you get annoyed with me?” “I go home.” Oh. Now we just leave home. 🙂 Perfect solution.

    We both value space and decompression time. Plus we’ve both lived alone before. There’s nothing better about living alone than coming home to no one. Knowing that, whenever he gets home and I’ve been alone and unemployed all day, I just say “Hi” and let him go check his email and do whatever other stuff he does (surf the net reading soccer and hockey news websites? do a meditation? who knows. who cares.) Then he’ll come downstairs and we’ll make dinner. We both value eating dinner together at the dining room table (no TV…that’s a pet peeve of mine, watching tv during dinner, unless it’s a live event like hockey or soccer games) and we both like to work on projects. Neither of us is a “veg out” person. As for working on projects in the same room, all I have to say is: earphones.

    • There are many things in your comment that I appreciate and can relate to:

      1. Not vegging out (or at least very minimal vegging out)
      2. Respecting how nice it is to come home to an empty house (Biddy doesn’t respect this at all, but I kind of like that)
      3. Headphones. Brilliant.

  3. i arrive late in the game yet again, it seems. first of all, sir jamey, no quibbles? at all? that’s red flag number one, in my opinion. quibbles are like earthquakes. they’re necessary to relieve stress (and don’t tell me that there’s no stress). and after they subside, things are good. quibbles let you show your worst side(s) and see that of your Whoever. which is understandably important.
    my girlfriend and i have lived together for quite some time (i wish i knew just how long…) and for *us* doing things apart from one another is the key to success. i have things i like to do, and madam has things she likes to do. i make music while she does whatever she does–because i really don’t know what she does for fun. i go out; she stays in. she goes out; i stay in… we have absolutely no desire to be together *all the time.* as i’ve told you before, there’s relationship david, and non-relationship david; and, as david, i prefer to keep those david’s from interacting. that’s just how i am. and that’s how madam is. it’s what makes things work for us.
    as in life, young jamey, extremes are never a good thing. too much time together is harmful, as is too little time. i think a lot of it is letting C, J, M, Z or whatever letter of the alphabet you date to be who she is while you be who you are. nobody says you have to stop being who you are and that she (or he, i don’t judge) has to stop being who she (or he) is. so there.
    that being the case, a close friend living with madam and me would be problematic. after all i have no close friends. and i don’t trust men.

    • Man, you do arrive late to the game! I see your point about quibbles…sure, there were quibbles. I guess I only remember the big fights, which were few and far between.

      As for the living situation, it sounds like you have something that works really well for you. I really like what you have (and am even envious of it!) I hope to find that someday.


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