Two of my children are married, two are in relationships. Garage Guy and I have been together forever. Or 210 dog years, it seems like. Plus we both experienced a few “connections” prior to our marriage. So we have some expertise in what makes things tick between two people. Notice I said ‘some’ expertise, not ‘all’. Our life isn’t perfect.
But there are certain things couples should determine if they are considering cohabitation or marriage. All of which I feel would have been helpful before I took the plunge. So, with tongue firmly in cheek, I offer the following pearls of wisdom in no particular order of importance:
Lucy’s Rules for Successful Cohabitation (or How to Share Your Blanket Fort Without Strangling Someone)
1. How much counter space do they require in the bathroom? If there isn’t three inches left for a hairbrush or tube of toothpaste among the products and gadgets, there might be a wee problem with sharing. Or just live in a space with two bathrooms.
2. Staying in the bathroom, there’s the proverbial squeezing of the toothpaste tube. Middle or end squeezer? Again, separate tubes resolve this if it bothers you.
3. Toilet paper. Over or under? We all know the PROPER way, don’t we? LOL Does your future partner/roommate feel the same? If not, be prepared to change it. Often and behind closed doors.
4. General clothing/laundry tidiness. If there’s always dirty jeans, socks, bras and thongs strewn about and clean clothes are never folded, beware if you are a neat freak. It will make you crazy. There are just so many times you can pick them up or treat your partner like they’re five before they throw a temper tantrum.
5. Kitchens. Personally, I cannot go to bed if there are dirty dishes out. Yeah, it’s a personality flaw. Garage Guy doesn’t care. But who wants to get up in the morning to a sink or counter full of used glasses and gravy encrusted plates? Ugh.
6. Watch how they treat someone important to them – parents, siblings, other family members, close friends, business/work associates. It’s a powerful indication how they will treat you. And look at their actions, not just their words. If anything makes you uncomfortable, investigate further. Keep yourself safe.
6.5 In that same light, watch how they treat all the other people. You know, the times where no one is looking and there is nothing to be gained. Powerful revelation about character.
7. Controlling the thermostat. Hot? Cold? Really, do we need to have this talk again? *Oh, sorry, thought I was talking to Garage Guy. Again!* Seriously, I know many couples who argue about this way too much. It still goes back to priorities – comfort vs. money. Unless, of course, you marry a trust fund baby.
8. Money management. You need to have the discussion about personal debt, spending habits and overall financial philosophy. Coupons? No coupons? Saving for long and short term goals or impulsive spending? All of this needs to be out in the open as much as your past sexual history and health. Because it matters.
9. A good balance between talking and listening. Everyone wants to feel important, validated and heard. If your partner doesn’t seem invested in your life and opinions, why subject yourself to a longer term relationship?
Hmm, looking back over this list, Garage Guy and I are doing okay. Well, except for the thermostat issue.
You cannot change someone else. Cold, unvarnished reality. The only truth is to change yourself or your reactions.
Just what I’ve observed over many decades from my little corner of the world.
Now I need to go turn the thermostat down. Again.