We live in a changing world, and one of the most noticeable changes is that of couples cohabiting before marriage. My wife and I lived together for a few years before getting married, and I highly recommend you live with a person before deciding to make a big public display of saying you will spend the rest of your life with them.
There are little things, however, that you probably don’t even think about before going into a cohabiting relationship that can make all the difference. If you’re prepared, you can avoid some of the mistakes I made. And to all you prudes out there, this advice also works for couples who wait until marriage to move in… but let’s be honest, if you do that, you’re probably too naïve to be reading my blog (or the internet, for that matter).
The first three things to remember about cohabiting are the same three most important things in real estate: location, location, location. Certain things need to be considered, because the choices you make at the beginning will stick with you until you get a new place, break up, or die.
That first day you sit down to watch TV… that will be your spot. Try as you might, you will be stuck there. I have had some good relationships end because I had a horrible angle on the TV or the part of the couch I got was lumpy. Scope it out ahead of time.
The same goes for your spot in the bed. Sure, it seems unimportant, but consider all the variables. You should note which side is closer to the bathroom, whether a spot is directly under any lights which will glare in your eyes for years to come, and perhaps most importantly, where are you in relationship to the door into the bedroom?
I always take the spot furthest from the door, that way if someone breaks into our home, I’m in a good position to use my significant other as a human shield. I have slept between my partner and the wall before, having to literally climb over them if I had to get up in the middle of the night, all because I lived in a bad neighborhood.
Then you have the sink situation. If your bathroom has two sinks… then la dee da, Mr. Fancy Pants. Check the water pressure and drainage on each. Make note of where the outlets are. Is one sink so close to the wall that you’ll be bumping your elbow while flossing? Consider everything about your daily routine before committing to a sink.
Other than that, the only location you need to consider is the location for your stuff. If you are the one doing the moving in, make sure there’s plenty of space for your things. Be wary of anyone who makes you get rid of too much during the move-in process. That is the sign of someone who will try to change every little thing about you (unless they just have much nicer stuff than you do).
You may also need a space to work or set up a computer, so make sure everything is in place for you to have an area to call your own… even though it’s “our home,” you still need your space.
Television is perhaps the great deal-breaker in most relationships. I try to steer what is watched towards shows I like, and I do my best to only encourage shows I don’t like if they are in their 12th season or so and on the verge of being cancelled. Don’t pretend, either. Don’t just “tolerate” something because you sometimes get your way. Take a stand, because if a show annoys you after a week, it’s going to make you want to murder someone in about a year. I have actually put serious thought into where I might be able to dump a body while watching “Grey’s Anatomy.”
It seems petty, but if you and your partner watch TV (and I know how many of you snooty jack-offs out there don’t anymore… fuck you), it’s important that you watch compatible shows that both of you can stand. You can tell yourself you’ll go do something else every time the other person puts on “American Idol,” but honestly… you’re still dating someone who watches “American Idol,” and you should know better than to mix your DNA with someone like that.
Just as TV tastes can make or break a relationship, so it is with food. I think this is more of a problem for women, though I have dated people whose diets make me question their species. Guys eat absolute shit, to be fair and honest. If someone made frozen shit pies that could be microwaved in 30 seconds and be ready to eat, I would fill my cart with them once a month and eat nothing else.
I have, in fact: they’re called “Banquet Pot Pies,” and they’re about 79 cents. They come in beef, chicken, and turkey varieties. These also function as a delicious and inexpensive laxative substitute.
Eventually, you have to decide on about 5-10 dishes you both really like, because relationships are all about routine. You’ll end up eating the same few meals hundreds of times a year, with some variety thrown in. Sure, you’ll get sick of pork chops after having them for the 5000th time, so you substitute in stir fried beef or fish tacos or whatever for a few years, before coming back around to pork chops again.
It’s not about, “What is my favorite meal?” it’s about, “What is affordable, easy to make, and palatable?” I don’t like half of the food I make in my house, and I’m the person who is both buying the groceries and making the food. I do it because it’s what we both like, since if I had my way, I would get 90% of my calories from meat and bread, while my wife would probably end up anemic, to the point of being unable to produce new red blood cells. This food gender gap is why women are always cold and men are always sweating, or so I believe.
I don’t want to get too much into housework here, because it’s my theory is simple: you should divide housework based on who does paid work. I don’t work, so I do what most women do: laundry, shopping, cooking, cleaning, and motionlessly laying there during sex. Housework isn’t about gender, it’s about doing what needs to be done in a fair way. If both people work, you should equally divide up the housework, even if one person earns more money.
And no, taking out the trash is not half.
The easiest way to divide anything of unequal and impossible to determine value or effort is the divide-or-choose method. One person gets to divide, the other chooses. In this situation, one person (it doesn’t matter who) will divide all the housework into two groups, and the other person gets to choose which group of chores they do. The idea is, the first person should make both groups as equally difficult as possible, since they cannot know which set they will be assigned to do.
At this point, it’s probably best to remind everyone that it’s not a battle… you are in a relationship with this person, after all. There are some things that should just be obvious as to who does what. My wife is skittish about insects and rodents, so it’s my job to kill/trap literally anything in my house that isn’t a human, dog or cat. In return, my wife helps me open jars, generally by suggesting ways for me to get a better grip. I’m also allergic to grass, so obviously, I also mow the lawn.
It’s all worth it to watch her shower in the morning, even though she sighs with disgust as I’m jerking off. Is it such a crime to still be attracted to my wife? I would submit that it is not; the crime is all the secret cameras I installed throughout my house without her knowledge.
So why do we do it? Why do we put up with so much to be with someone? Can’t you have someone in your life, but not in your home?
Sure, you can just go through life as a bachelor/ette. You can knock around with new people once the spark goes in your old relationship. Then one day, before you know it, you’ll get sick, old, weak, wondering what you’ve done with your life, bitter, sad, incapacitated, a living corpse, confused, shitting yourself, suicidal, longing for the sweet repose of death, and ultimately, alone.
Having a family doesn’t prevent all of that, but it can help solve two of the most existential problems there: you will have done something with your live, and you probably won’t die alone. Plus, if you are married in your hour of great need, they might be kind enough to smother you with a pillow.
I’m not one of these people who will tell you, “You have to get married,” but you have to find someone. You can try to go through life alone if you want, but you will almost certainly find it unfulfilling and more difficult than it needs to be. I recommend getting married, though, because just knowing that you have to hire lawyers and fill out paperwork to break up with someone is a serious incentive to stay together.
Hopefully you learned something from this, and if you didn’t… the most expensive spice in the world by weight is saffron, followed in second place by vanilla. Now you have.