By the middle of next month CW and I will have been living together for a full year. I love our home and especially love that he is here with me. I love the fact that we get to come home to each other and go to sleep together and wake up side by side every single day. It absolutely hasn’t gotten old to me yet.
The flipside of that coin, though, is that — as it hasn’t gotten old to me yet — there are still things I haven’t quite adjusted to yet. Napping, for example. I used to be a champion napper: on the couch, with the dog, under a blanket, television droning quietly in the background, passed slap out. How I miss those naps. I have had probably fewer than five really good naps since CW and I have been sharing a house.
I don’t know what the problem is, but I tend to sleep a lot more lightly now. So lightly that any movement or noise he might make — even if he is in another room, even a noise as slight as his opening a can of soda or the clicking in his ankle when he takes he first few steps after sitting for a long time — is enough to wake me from my sleep. I don’t just wake up, though. I EXPLODE into consciousness, heart pounding, blood pressure through the roof, every muscle at complete attention. Because my husband stood up and took a couple of quiet, barefoot steps on a carpeted floor.
I can hardly blame the man. What, should he hold perfectly still and stop breathing while I take a nap? Of course not. But I also would be lying if I said that his own ability to nap — deeply, for long stretches of time, while I unload the dishwasher and cook an entire meal, for example, in a room twelve feet from the couch — makes me so envious I could shoot lasers out of my eyes in his (peacefully snoozing) direction.
See also: the incredible ability to sleep through his own beeping alarm clock, which is set for 30 minutes before I want to get up. How can he possibly sleep through those beeps so soundly, when they’re waking me up like a blast from a cannon? I am so jealous.
I think my nap failures stem from the fact that some part of me hasn’t internalized the idea that I don’t live alone anymore. Simply put: there’s another person here. I know that, of course, but my sleeping brain doesn’t expect to hear those sounds, so — even though they’re quiet, quieter than the pets are — they startle me.
Napping (or, more accurately, the loss of napping) isn’t the only new thing I’ve been adjusting to. So many little aspects of life are just different now.
[It occurs to me that these thoughts are pretty original, aren’t they? You’ve probably never heard anything like this before. “Oh, gosh, cohabitation and marriage take adjustments? SHOCKING.” Well, simmer down. I feel like talking about it for a bit, so just humor me, please.]
Daily life at home can become the source of so many odd debates. We have two very different philosophies about how to load a dishwasher, when to unload a dishwasher, how many water glasses should be left around various rooms of the house, what temperature the thermostat should be set to, and what to do with laundry fresh out of the dryer. The most serious philosophical questions of our time, people! They’re being debated right here in my very own home! No conclusive answers yet, however. I’ll update you if we ever resolve the question of whether bowls should go on the top rack of the dishwasher*.
Of course, I’m not the only one who has had to adjust to living with another person after many years of flying solo. CW has had to face the fact that he basically cannot leave a drinking glass unattended for more than five seconds before it gets disappeared into the dishwasher. He also has had to adjust to always eating with a wife who likes to photograph her food. Carefully. With, like, lighting and shit. He now lives with a woman who can’t watch an entire movie without checking her phone, who likes to have as many lights on as possible, who hates fans, and who routinely leaves the kitchen cabinet doors wide open. He has never been anything but gracious about these things, but I know they’re adjustments for him as well.
(And how many of you are thinking right now that I would be very annoying to live with?!)
I lived on my own for 13 years after college, so I’ve had quite a long time for my single-living routines to become deeply entrenched. Adjusting them is hard. Worth it, of course, to contribute to a happy home for both of us. I wonder, though, how long does it take before these aspects of daily life are no longer conscious adjustments, but simply the way we do things? How long before we settle on a temperature? Or before my brain can tune out the sound of another human being around and just let me nap without waking me up in a state of adrenal alarm? I really do miss those naps.
People who’ve been cohabitating for a while — what are your thoughts?
*They should absolutely not; are you crazy?
OBVIOUSLY bowls go on the top rack! Where else could bowls possibly go? Do you also put GLASSES on the bottom rack? BLASPHEMY.
Also, N and I have been cohabiting since August 2004 (holla!) and I have this gem to share with you: it does not get any easier. Maybe we’re just weirder than the average couple, but I would wager it’s the same across the board. Sharing a space is just difficult. (Wonderful, but difficult.) For example, I asked N just now if I do anything house-wise that annoys him, and he said that I walk too loudly (WHAT?!) and that I take his things which he has purposely left out and put them in “piles.” (THAT’S CALLED “AWAY.”) As for his habits that annoy me: he leaves things out and I must then put them away and he has a complicated system for clothing storage, which involves different piles (HOW IRONIC!) in different spots throughout the bedroom, coded according to how many times he can still wear them before washing. (Clearly, we are the most glamorous couple you have ever met.)
(Also, I have had a bit of wine tonight. Forgive me.)
Okay, I love this comment. I was laughing SO HARD. I think our husbands might have been separated at birth with this laundry pile system!
On the bowl topic, in our house we use SO MANY GLASSES that if bowls go on top, we have a situation where the glasses either have to go on the bottom or be washed by hand because there’s no more room up top. Either bowls or glasses can go up there but not both. (Excessive glass use can be attributed to Mr. Hydration and the seven different drinking vessels he has in use at any time.)
I love you both. I just want you to know 🙂
I find anecdotes like this so interesting because of course you can’t help but think of your own circumstances. Mine are the complete opposite.
I lived alone for one month out of college; my Chris has actually never lived alone. I like to say we kind of grew up together, and like vines on lattice, we just grew around each other. I don’t have dishwasher opinions because he always does that. He doesn’t have bills/finance opinions because I do that.
If we ever decide to part ways or something bad happens to one of us, we’ll be at a huge disadvantage because each of us only knows half the skills to run a household. So on our own we’re screwed, and the odds of finding a new partner who is a perfect complement are slim.
Fingers crossed we live happily ever after (12 years down, 50-some to go?) but if we don’t, I suppose at least it’s blog content.
That’s so interesting for me to think about — I wonder what things would be like to have always loved with someone. In my case, I know for sure it’s the 13 years of flying solo that calcified all my quirks.
No advice from me, as Paul and I are in our first month of living together. For the most part, it’s been great. I might spend more time doing the obvious chores, like cleaning and washing dishes, but Paul does stuff that I hardly ever do, like grooming the cat (she looks so good now!) and keeping his (our) car in good shape. However, I am missing my alone time at home a bit. Ironically, I spend too much time alone (and lonely) at work, and I don’t get enough alone time at home. Weird, no?
I know what you mean about the alone time. It sometimes feels like if we’re both at home we should be hanging out — but we’ve gotten more comfortable with doing our own things in separate areas when needed.
Sean & I have been living together for 10 years, and, well, I’ll let you know when I get used to his quirks. I thought it was totally a male brain thing to leave cabinet doors open. I was wrong! Beth once said something to me about being Vanna White in her kitchen bc Stu does it too, and I still giggle every time I think about it. For a long time, Sean wouldn’t “do” my dishes. I called it a holdover from back when he had roommates, and everyone’s dishes were their own responsibility. He would wash or put his own dishes in the dishwasher but just leave mine sitting there on the counter or sink. Of course, mine were sitting there because I don’t LIKE to do dishes, so I procrastinate, so fine, we’ve got our own things.
I am the person who hates to have dishes sitting around, so I’ll often wind up doing them all, but then CW is like, “You don’t have to do my dishes; I’ll get those later” — but then he’ll procrastinate and I’ll walk through the kitchen and see them like five times and then finally do them myself anyway. Heh.