Here is a good start for this post.
Don’t get me wrong, I am indeed excited that my girlfriend has arrived, and is living with me now. But there are some elements of cohabitation which require some getting used to. I’ve never shared the EXACT same space with any of my previous girlfriends. Sure, we would stay over at each other’s place and co-mingle some items. A special pillow here, a second toothbrush there, some dishware swapping… but nothing too invasive. When neither person has ANYWHERE else to hide from the other, and NOWHERE else readily available to stash their “other” crap, then you have the true article. Then you have something beyond periodic-spending-the-night-with-respite-in-between, or that quasi-couple roommate-ish type of arrangement that young pairs mistakenly label “living together”. If a man and woman have alternate places to live (two rents, abodes, whatever), then they do not “live together”. Rather, they “kick-it at one-another’s crib”. Big difference.
On top of this distinction, I want to make it clear that I believe those couples who moved into a new place together (bought a new house, rented a bigger shared apartment, whatever) will have only a veneer comprehension of my current situation. The versions of compromise are for all intents and purposes: incomparably different. Let me try to explain.
Before my wonderful girlfriend (for those who know her, she IS truly wonderful) moved in (a whole two days ago), I had the run of my place. I called the shots. I owned the thing, and that was that. I decided what went where, and whether or not changes of any sort were in order. I was comfortable with that arrangement (made with myself). And in a very real way, I still am. I wish there was a way to make a woman comfortable in her man’s place without disturbing the relative calm of organization and the peace of arrangement/color therein. But alas, I am fully aware that a guy’s place is just that: his place. As soon as she arrives, it needs to change into: their place. And that requires her to exert as much influence in design/arrangement as would be necessary to make it: her place. This push and pull is not as prevalent when a couple parachutes into a brand new environment together (the majority of compromise and precedent setting will occur at the outset of the move by verbal negotiation, not as a result of turf-war or passive-aggressive maneuvers of the unilateral variety).
So here I am. In the process of making an honest effort to provide an environment in which my girlfriend will feel “at home”, as this is her only place to label as such. And I truly want her to be comfortable, not just to have a “feeling” of comfort. I do not want her feeling like an encroaching visitor, because that is the furthest thing from what she actually is. I invited her into OUR home, and I want that welcome to remain.
That being the case, there are some things that need to be understood. And perhaps in my effort to understand, I can help others who are (will be) in a similar situation. The main part, as it currently stands, is for me to be able to clearly define what matters to me and what matters to her. Healthy compromise can occur after that.
List time. Just a general tacking of things, to help me get the topography of the thing. I’ll make this general, and not necessarily aimed at my girlfriend (although it will all be inspired by her). I refuse to say anything against my lovely lady, but I can vent in a general sort of way. If she ever reads this, she will know what may apply to our situation.
1. The bathroom is hers, and there is no ambiguity about it. If you are allowed to store your own grooming accessories there, then you are “afforded” some slight space. That means: you and your five hygiene necessities are an organizational afterthought, not a pillar of consideration.
2. She wants to repaint the bedroom, and there is no ambiguity about it. If you left the paint the same color it was when you moved in, then this is a given. She is much more sensitive to such things, and will require color enhancement. If you painted it, well then… that’s the problem right there. Get out the brushes and head to Home Depot to color match something.
3. Her couch is better, and there is no ambiguity about it. This is more than likely true. Your couch is somewhat comfortable, sure. But hers has an academic aesthetic to it that yours never had (even when yours was new). Hers has a “style” that is referred to in architectural books. Your couch’s only redeeming qualities are: it reclines; the color hides dirt; it was free. Hers is comfortable AND attractive. Besides, you’ve probably let your stankin’ drunk buddies pass out on yours, and she knows it. Cuddling in the same divot where your sweaty friend passed gas and puked into a trashcan before lulling into a piss-staining coma, simply won’t do for her. Can you blame her? I am tired of typing that there “is no ambiguity about it,” because there NEVER is. Even when things appear negotiable, it should be understood that the fact that they are being discussed means that a decision to the contrary of yours has already been reached (in which case, there is an easy way… and a hard way to deal with any “ambiguity”).
4. She prefers all the dinnerware be both matching and “cute”. Hers happens to be both, while yours is questionable at best. Aside: you will be smart never to question what qualifies as “cute”. Because this is a term of cruel vaguery, chucked in your direction in hopes that you will nibble the bait and become justly informed that everything “hers” is unquestionably “cute”. Your trip to the hospital resulting from an unexpected aneurysm will be your only mulligan for bothering to question the “cuteness” of her things. They are all “cute”, they all match (yours: neither), and they should all be in regular kitchen use. Leave it be before you become a neurological statistic.
5. Your clothes can live outside of the closet. Get used to this, or prepare to inhabit a hall closet (or perhaps a ramshackle construct in the corner of some secret room you have successfully hidden from her). Just pile them in a quiet corner somewhere and move on. Soon, she’ll be picking all that crap for you anyway (and she’ll find a good home for the stuff she buys you). A note concerning clothing bought for you by your woman: all other women will comment at how nice it looks, and will immediately pick up on some strange pheromone signal that your woman stitched into the fabric, warning them to “dig elsewhere, this one is taken. See how he wears whatever I throw at him?”
6. I bet you never knew there were so many contraptions designed to help ease the burden of owning 6,000 pairs of shoes. Oh yeah, that’s a real problem for today’s active ladies. The sorting, indexing, referencing, and locating of a single pair of ivory, bow-tied, strappy-medium-heels can be an arduous task, requiring specialized equipment and database technology. There’s torture-device looking bracket-things that drill on to the back of a door. Some are hangar-based, with crazy tic-tac-toe pockets over every square inch, or the cubby-holed variety so she can view them in their natural pose (upright). Or she’ll just jenga-stack them in the closet with some sort of number-method to catalog their location, perhaps using Polaroid photos of them in “cute” positions (or even ON her feet) to give a visual aid in future shoe-searches, presented in a flip-ready binder.
But you know what? As I type and read what I am typing, it all sounds like a big ol’ load of bullshit from a territorial dude who simply wishes that his woman would approach things with the same level of logic that he does. Of course, that idiot is flawed in several ways. The two main ones being 1) his “logic” is only logical to him and 2) he would no doubt be less interested in a woman who thought about things the way he does.
So this list ends with me deciding to stop being such a baby about the whole thing, and promising myself to make a better effort at seeing the forest for the trees. There is a bigger picture here, and it (luckily) will not be affected by her shoe mongering or the fact that we now have a (“cute”) serving tray, yet no table to serve anything to. These things make her comfortable, and that is what I want more than anything else (even more than a better corner to stack my underwear, or cleaner space behind the toilet to stash my deodorant and razors… kidding! Kind of.).
Damn you “cute” dishware!