The homely bliss of living with the one you love is a major life goal for a lot of people. But perhaps we have been driven to believe that this is relatively easy to come by. It goes, ‘boy meets girl and fall in love, boy and girl decide to live under the same roof, immediate co-habitational paradise’. Unsurprisingly, this is a myth. In the day to day dealings of living in the same house or flat, there are bound to be not only a few adjustments to make in organizing your things, but also in organizing your thinking. It’s not as simple to work around another person, let alone include them in your previously independent life, as we have been led to believe. Like it or not, the word, ‘compromise’ is going to have to enter into your vocabulary. So just how much are you willing to compromise when living together?
What ‘compromise’ really entails
If you’ve been living on your own, or even in a flat-share prior to moving in with your partner, it can sometimes be quite difficult to amend your way of thinking to allow for working with your partner to make a ‘household’ work. It’s not just about having room for your stuff (which in itself can be an initial issue if you’re moving into a partner’s already established apartment), it’s about factoring in the other person according to both of your routines, lifestyles and needs.
For example, a friend of mine moved in with her boyfriend, who had his flat for many years, and though there was great compromising going on with regard to her having room for her things (such as having a desk to work at on her own online business and having a dedicated space by a mirror for her make-up things) there was no provision for who does which chores when. In her case, she began by venturing a conversation about the washing up, which led to them establishing a routine for which evenings they’d be out, which they’d be staying in, and who would do the cooking or washing up. From having worked out that basic routine, the food shopping, cooking, washing up, as well as other chores began to fall into place and it was clear which task was whose responsibility, and when.
When it really doesn’t work
The most common mistake for couples living together is if your lifestyles are dramatically different. For example, if you work 9-5 and your boyfriend is a musician doing gigs on different nights, staying up late and waking up late, it could be very difficult to establish any kind of routine that could work for both of you. However, if one works shifts in a bar and the other is a musician, then you’re on an even keel in your unpredictable lives and this may well prove easier to work around. It depends on your own expectations.
What do you want to gain from living with your partner? Are you hoping to have more ‘date nights’, enjoying a meal out or going to the cinema? If so, then discuss this before moving in, and even ask what the worst case scenario might be with regard to how little your partner may be willing to do this. If their idea of a compromise is to agree to once a month date nights, when you were hoping for twice a week, you may decide this is just not going to work. On the other hand, the sensible compromise in this case would be that your partner steps up to allowing once a week to be the agreement, and you’ll need to organise fun things for yourself on the other days. If you can’t work things out in this way, you will have to agree on living apart and see if the relationship is headed towards compromising more in the future, or going your separate ways.
Things you shouldn’t have to compromise on
If you have a passion in life, a hobby or job that you love, then it would be a step too far for your partner to expect you to curtail this for the sake of living together. Your partner should love you for you, not for an idealized version of who you could be. If he or she gives you an ultimatum, such as, “we can only live together if you stop doing x…”, then maybe it’s time to reconsider your relationship altogether. Your love of ‘romantic dinners in’ is one thing, but being asked to give up writing your novel/learning French/playing the piano because you need to do a bit every day, is a step too far, and, in all honesty, probably one foot in the grave for your relationship.