Growing up, I had my life all planned out. I was going to go to college, get married, and life happily ever after. For some reason, the age I wanted to get married at had always been 22. I can’t tell you why, it just was.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been told how young I am to be married already. I was so lucky to find Nick when I was 18. It was the kind of love where you want to spend every second of your lives together. So, after dating for a little over a year, we officially began living together.
We got grief from a few folks, our parents included. My dad told me that since I was over 18 that I could do whatever I wanted, but he didn’t exactly approve of it. But, I never had a doubt that it was the right decision. And to this day, I totally stand by that.
Nick and I lived together from May 2009 to when we got married in July 2011. Those two years were more helpful than I ever could have imagined. You know how the saying goes, “the first year of marriage is the hardest?” I absolutely attribute that to the period of transition that goes with learning to live with the opposite sex.
You learn the little things about someone that could just about drive you crazy. For me? Nick doesn’t close cabinets. EVER. He’s gotten better since the beginning but it still drives me crazy. He leaves his socks everywhere and always leaves his clothes hanging up in the doorway. But I’ve gotten over it.
Even though Nick worked during the day and I had classes, we would both see each other at night. When we lived separately, one of us would have to compromise and drive back to their place late at night. With such busy schedules, this was a great solution to being able to see each other.
Probably the most important thing for me is that you learn how to be an adult. I know it sounds crazy, and that may be because I never lived in a house or apartment on my own, but it’s true. Working with someone to pay bills together is such a learning experience.
Basically, I’m not telling you how to live your life or that we’re perfect. Don’t think that’s what I’m trying to do. But I can tell you that living together before we were married was one of the smartest decisions we’ve made. We were able to enjoy being newlyweds (for the month before Nick moved to Texas) without making the usual adjustments that others do.
Now I couldn’t event imagine living with anyone else. Having lived with
Nick for almost five years now, it’s really helped us in the long run. I
don’t regret it for anything.
I’m a lot like Whit in that I never really expected to “live
in sin,” as so much of my family pointed out, and I’m still not sure when
exactly it happened. There wasn’t a big sit down “I think we should move in
together” conversation. It was a much more subtle transition: She’d be over
late, say watching a movie. Then she’d go back to campus, sleep, and in the
morning she’d come back over for breakfast. We’re sharing all three meals,
spending all our time together – except that pesky eight hours in between. At
some point we just started skipping that step and the next thing I know my
closets and dressers are full of dresses and bras. Living together was just a natural, organic
evolution of the relationship.
At one point in my
life, I would have probably looked at a couple in our exact situation and
thought they were heathens. My dad probably inadvertently contributed to that
piece of me dying. “Son,” he’d say, “you never really know someone until you
live with them.” He was talking about
potential roommates, but following that to its logical end I don’t see why it
doesn’t apply to potential spouses.
Living together helped us learn about each other in both the
big and the little things. Little things are pretty easy to deal with because
they’re just differences in life style you have to adjust to. (I’m looking at
you, “Whit wants the TV on and turned up to sleep”) Big things are harder
though. They’re characteristics about the other person that are hard to see without
spending a lot of time together constantly.
Take the unpleasant business of anger and fights. When Whit
is angry, I know it. And I know she’s going to want to talk it out right then
and there. I’m different – I may get annoyed over something, but it takes time
and a lot of pressure to make that boil over into anger, and when I’m mad I
prefer to cool down before talking it out. Because it takes a lot to get me angry,
Whit never saw me angry until we started living together, and then our
different styles of arguing (right now vs later) complicated things even more. It was our first serious fight and it was all
because of differences in who we were and how we dealt with things. Now imagine
we’re a newly married couple and fresh off the honeymoon period. Or worse, imagine
that I deal with anger by punching a hole in a wall. Surprise and happy
Working through the big things makes you better people and
better matches, from fights to finances. Whit learned to help me spot when I’m
getting angry. I helped Whit learn how
not to spend every dollar she has. Living
together first was invaluable because it kept us from having to learn through
those “big things” during the first part of our marriage. Learning as you go works for some people, but
when Whit and I got married there was no question, no doubt at all that we were
totally, absolutely, one hundred percent ready to say we wanted to spend the
rest of our lives together, flaws and all. I could say a lot more but Whit
probably is going to stroke out when she sees how long this is already, so I’ll
just say I’m glad we did it.
Although you should really ask me if I still feel that way
when my kids tell me they’re moving in with someone.
Have you ever lived with your significant other?