The scene: Mr. W. has been out of the apartment for most of the day, doing some freelance work. He returns to find that I’ve decorated our home for Easter. He likes the decorations, until he spots our kitchen chairs. I’ve taken sparkly, polka-dotted, pastel ribbon and tied gigantic bows on the backs of each kitchen chair. Adorable, right?
He doesn’t seem to think so. He rolls his eyes and says, “You know, I have to live here, too!”
Whoops. That's right. He's a strapping, 28-year-old male and he does live here. I guess those ribbons do look a little like they belong in Barbie’s dream house.
After Mr. W. and I were married, he moved into MY apartment. It’s a lovely little space. At 650 square feet, it isn’t large. But what it lacks in space and storage, it more than makes up for in charm. A benefit to old (ie, cheap) apartments is that they often have a lot of character. The kitchen has a built in china cabinet. The hardwood floors are edged in mahogany inlay. Each room has a 10-foot ceiling. It didn’t take me long to incorporate little touches to make it feel more like home. By the time we were married, I had lived in the apartment for just over a year. I definitely perceived the two-bedroom, 1-bath unit as being “mine.”
Although we hadn’t lived together before the wedding, Mr. W. and I were quite familiar with each other’s habits and preferences. I knew, for instance, that he tends to accumulate dirty cups -- but never dishes-- on his desk. He is meticulous about rolling the toothpaste tube after each squeeze. He prefers to wear shoes while inside. He sleeps with about six dozen pillows. In other words, I knew his daily routine. After seven years of dating, I think this level of familiarity is inevitable.
In turn, he knew that I have a much lower tolerance for clutter than he does. He also knew that I don’t really care what the toothpaste tube looks like, so long as there is toothpaste inside. I would wear slippers all the time if they weren’t so ugly. I sleep with just two pillows, though I’ve always loved the decorative pillows that are NOT to be used for sleeping.
All in all, I would say that the transition to living together has been fairly smooth. Mr. W. contains his clutter to the spare bedroom so that I can simply close the door if it starts to bother me. And I’ve stopped teasing him for his “pillow nest.”
Every once in a while, though, we still discover little things that annoy each other. For instance, if Mr. W. is sleeping and I turn on a light in the bedroom (even the really, really dim light all the way in the corner), he becomes quite grouchy. You’d think I tried to rouse a hibernating bear. Likewise, I start to seethe if I see dirty clothes strewn on the floor (hello, the hamper is right there!). Once we’ve discovered each other’s irritants, we try not to repeat them.
But, I can still do a better job remembering that the apartment is no longer mine alone. Given that I am a Type-A control freak, relinquishing control over “my home” has not been easy for me. But it’s also his home, and I need to allow him equal input when it comes to organizing, maintaining, and decorating the apartment. Marriage is a partnership and our home needs to reflect that.
By the way, he resigned himself to the sparkly chair-bows for one week. They’ll be removed on Sunday night, as soon as we finish our Easter celebration.
If you live with a spouse or significant other, what was the largest adjustment when you first started sharing spaces?