After 20 some odd years of being the chick in charge: A.K.A. the divorced single mother of 2, running her own business and taking care of the entire household (or two), I finally moved in with my boyfriend last year.
We took our time about it. He was dubbed a “bachelor for life” and we are both accustomed to being in control of everything. It took us 6 plus years of dating when we figured it was time to shit or get off the pot. After 7 months of house hunting, with the grace and patience of our real estate agent, we walked into one and finally both fell in love with it.
For me, it was just time. Frankly I was tired of taking care of every little detail involved in homeownership. I thought that sharing the responsibilities of a household would make life easier. For him, after years of sleeping over each other’s house, figuring out who’s cooking dinner where, it was just a simpler solution. That’s not to discount the fact that we do honestly love each other very much and plan to spend our lives together, I’m just talking about the practicalities here.
From my perspective, it really isn’t easier, it’s just different. Over the past year, I’ve learned a lot about myself, him, us and life in general. For two people who are used to being in charge of every little detail, we’ve managed to learn how to compromise, accept, give in on occasion and take a stand when needed. Regardless as to how similar I thought we were, there are some interesting differences that we’ve had to learn to deal with in each other.
For example, over the summer our pup ate a hole in the porch screen. My concern was that the wildlife could now get into the porch. As such, my solution was to grab a staple gun, some screen and plug up the hole as quickly as possible. “That will look like ass” says my beloved partner. He was right. His solution was to wait 2 days until he had the time to dismantle the 1 by 3’s, remove the old screen, properly and neatly install the new screen, and re-assemble that section of the porch. A good solution, but my primary fear of wildlife entry was not satisfied. Thus, the compromise: Seat cushions to block the hole and then wait until he could repair it to his liking.
A small thing, but symbolic of something bigger. I am a “fix it now” even if it’s not perfect person. He is a “fix it right” even if it takes longer person. I am not hung up on perfection, he strives for perfection. Neither is right or wrong, just different.
So, when I say things have not been easier, just different, I mean that while I have less tasks to accomplish around the house, some of that energy is now redirected into maintaining a harmonious relationship and being cognizant of the differences we have, accepting those, or at least understanding where he is coming from and go from there. Accepting differences does not mean compromising who you are or what you want in life. Ultimately, we both have the same goals, desires and expectations on the big picture life stuff. It’s how we get there that sometimes differs.
- I am a “here’s a task, just get it done now” person.
- He is a “here’s a task, and this is how you should do it” person.
- I am a “details don’t matter, this is the big picture goal” person
- He is a “it’s not the goal, it’s how you get there” person.
- He is a “I need to work hard, to support my family and give them the things they love” person.
- I am a “Family, work, everything else” person.
The last two are not as different as they appear, and trust me, it took me a while to figure this one out. When I get angry because he’s been at work for 10 hours and not with me enjoying our new home, I back myself up and understand that he works to help support the house we own and the lifestyle we enjoy living. Plus, he really likes what he does for a living, so bonus points for that. Conversely, when I started my marketing company in 1999, my primary goal was to be home to put my girls on the bus and get them off the bus. I wanted to have a flexible schedule that I controlled. I succeeded. He gets frustrated when I am on my laptop at 8pm or pack a computer when we go on vacation. He’s had to learn that my being on Facebook is about my business, not cat photos. In a real sense, we both do the same thing, for the same reasons, we just go about it in a different way.
There has been growth for both of us over the last year. The key is in our belief that by being together, we are better people. Our differences actually help each other grow and lift each other up. Sure, it takes patience, understanding, compromise, and the occasional – I’m putting my foot down because this is not negotiable.
It’s not easier, it’s different, but in the very best way.