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.
For those of you with adult children, you know that sometimes it’s fun to mess with them. Two of my kids live near me, two do not.
When I embarked on this writing adventure, the only person who knew was Garage Guy. Obviously, there was a reason for wads of pet fur and piles of dust (okay, dirt) on the floor, late dinners or meals consisting of hastily slapped together cold sandwiches. Trooper that he is, he snarfed down those ham and cheese confections like they were a four-course dinner. At least I kept up with the laundry! LOL
In writing 42 Rue de Jardin, a pub scene needed a signature cocktail for the heroine, Cullan. Youngest child was a bartender for years, so I sent a text:
Me: <would u suggest a cocktail for a woman, not too sweet, just a little tart?>
Her: <vodka, cranberry and lemon-lime soda>
Me: <thanks, honey. what do you call it?>
Her: <don’t know. just made it up.>
A few minutes later:
Her: <mom, what r u doing???>
Garage Guy and I chuckled. He asked if I was ready to out myself. Hmm, I had to think about that for a bit. I wasn’t ashamed of what I was doing. But the whole ripping my chest open to bare my thoughts and imagination was (and still is) scary. Magnified by what I was writing – erotic romance. With graphic language.
I decided to dip my toe in the bathwater and talk about my writing. When former bartender daughter came over, I broached the subject. She was thrilled! Encouraged, I elaborated and told her the story context. She was quiet then said in a quavering voice, “Do you expect me to read it, Mom?”
This child reads history, political science and an occasional chick lit. Not romance. “No, it’s enough that you support my efforts,” I responded with a smile.
The relief on her face was comical.
The next child I told lives out of state and is a voracious romance reader. On the phone, she asked what I’d been doing. When I told her, she squealed, “That’s so cool! I wanna read it. Wait until I tell Gram. She reads romance all the time.”
Yikes. Do I really want my mother-in-law (or my mother) to read words I’m not supposed to know? Ai-yi-yi. Do we ever outgrow being a little girl in our own minds?
We discussed generalities about the book. She paused and said, “Um, you didn’t write about you and Dad, did you? Because I really don’t want to read about y’all’s sex life. That’s just…eww.”
*Cue hysterical laughter* No, it’s fiction.
My son didn’t bat an eyelash, though the romance genre isn’t on his radar. He prefers Stephen King, sci-fi and anything sports related. When he said he wanted to read it, I told him he didn’t have to just because I wrote it. “No, I want to,” he said. *Happy dance*
Fourth child was told over Thanksgiving. Reaction? “That’s neat. When can I read it?” *Happy dance times two*
Ah, yes, Thanksgiving. My first holiday with the family when they all knew about my writing. Mother-in-law’s comment? “You know I want to read it.” Me: “Mom, my book isn’t like the ones you read. It has graphic sex and profanity.” Her: “Don’t care. You wrote it.”
With apologies to MasterCard – Family love and support. Priceless.
Winter has arrived in South Carolina. Because I’ve been a little preoccupied with writing, my yearly routine is out of sync. My first clue came last night when Garage Guy (GG) went into the backyard with a flashlight. Next thing I know, he’s dug out his fabricated aluminum hoops and drop cloths to cover his garden.
What? *Cue frantic scrambling to pull up the Weather Channel* Oh. That’s why.
So today, I postponed writing to prepare for the annual rite of passage – bringing the outdoor potted plants to overwinter in the house. Garage Guy despises this ritual.
GG, grumbling: “Why do we have to have the house full of oversized green stuff?”
Me: “One, it makes me happy and you like making me happy. Two, it keeps me from buying new ones every year and that would cut into your golf budget.”
End of discussion.
I have 2 Kimberly Queen ferns I have salvaged this way for almost 20 years. I do have a pretty good track record for growing things. As an undergraduate, I took a horticulture class for kicks and giggles. An easy elective. HA. They lied. I received an ‘A’ in the class. But I also ended up with over 100 plants in my 2 bedroom apartment. My roommate loved me. At least, I tell myself that.
Over the following years, most of those plants died as I schlepped them around the country during assorted moves for my career. Imagine the look on the United Van Lines movers’ faces as they scanned an entire room full of plants.
“You sure you want to take all of these to Oklahoma, lady?”
Note to self: some plants don’t travel well.
Now, my green thumb has come back to bite me in the ass. Hard. I’ve learned not to trust anything written on those little tags stuck in plants. You know, the ones with the proper light and water requirements along with the maximum height of the mature plant? I have yet to plant one of those that ended up at the detailed size. It wouldn’t be so bad if we were just talking about small houseplants. No, I’m also referring to flowers, bushes and trees.
Maybe my earlier horticulture class did me a disservice because literally everything I plant in my yard outgrows its space. Perhaps it’s my homemade compost. Or maybe water in the South is different. I don’t know.
I do know Garage Guy growls at me every time he has to prune the overgrown greenery in the yard. (I could do it but it would take away from my writing). ;D So I am sensitive to his feelings about bringing plants into the house.
While outside giving the potted plants a bath, haircut and a good soaking, I pondered the lifespan of all five plants. The 2 ferns already mentioned. I like them because they shed less than other species of ferns. Two peace lilies salvaged from my mother. They’ve been split and repotted multiple times due to excessive growth. (See a pattern yet?)
Then there is the mother of all aloe vera plants. Seriously. This plant is so large and produces such copious offspring it’s a struggle to keep it contained. I routinely remove babies and gift them to anyone who breathes. I’ve also cut the mother in half in order to avoid having to plant her in a pot the size of a small Volkswagon. I’ve even searched for plant birth control to no avail. (If you know of any, shoot me a message. Please.)
So, Garage Guy kept his cucumbers alive for another night. The large potted plants are inside, hopefully spider free. That’s why they get a good soaking outside first. Don’t need another thing for Garage Guy to complain about.
GG: “The cat’s playing with a spider that crawled out of the f*#king plant.”
Why don’t I just keep something small in the house, you ask? Like African Violets?
They are the one plant I kill by looking at them. Seriously. I cannot grow one to save my life. Every African Violet in the world knows if I purchase them, they’re guaranteed to die within 3 months. They shake in their pots when I walk by. I see it.
Now I just keep going. It’s for their own good.