The sidepiece and I took our first big steps into adulthood one whole year ago, and looking back over the progress we have made during that time has really got me thinking recently. Cue today’s post – ‘Perfect V Reality – The Truth About Living Together’.
When I used to think of the day that I’d be a grown up, living in my grown up house with a grown up boy, abiding by my own grown up rules, I thought it’d be easy. Like I’d just wake up one day and could suddenly and seamlessly fully adult successfully. Ha! Yeh alright then Chelsea, back to dream world you go. Who knew that being able to successfully adult on a day to day basis was so god damn hard? I mean, do we ever get to that stage where we almost agree we’ve grown up…?
In reality I never really knew the concept of what living together actually entailed. There are so many things I wish I’d been told about living with your partner. I wish I’d been given a manual; “Living together – The good, the bad and the ugly”. It’s so easy to forget that social media is simply the highlights. The pretty bits, the best bits and to be honest there are times when you just want to hear what the real deal is. No filter.
So here’s the truth about living together:
1. Be independent. Although it may feel like it, you’re not joined at the hip – you’re both allowed to have a life outside of each other. It’s so easy to get caught up, to feel like you’re stuck, to feel like you’re losing your own identity. Take the time to just be you, without feeling guilty or like you have to check in constantly. It’s okay to spend an evening sat on opposite ends of the sofa being completely unsociable, whilst he’s on some sort of shit game (again) and you’re busy stalking people on Instagram (again). It’s okay to want to do your teeth in peace without your partner interrupting to use the toilet. It’s okay to go out with the guys/gals even when your partner in crime doesn’t have any plans. Honestly. Take the time to just be you.
2. Keep the quality in quality time. I’m such a worrier and constantly stressing about losing ‘the spark’. There is a fine line between content and stagnant – where does simply being happy in each other’s company end and boredom begin? It’s a constant battle; not just adjusting to your new lives together but finding a way to keep things fresh and exciting. But honestly, it’s the little things that have the biggest impact. Be nice, tell them you love them (mean it where possible), surprise them. Surprises are a winner, the smallest of gestures can be a complete game changer. Oh and another thing! Two words – date night, don’t forget about date night. And I don’t mean just another night of being glued to the sofa. There is a world outside of the house, remember?
3. Pick your battles. Despite what you may think at the time, World War Three does not need to break out because your other half left their pants on the floor next to the washing basket, rather than putting them in it. Again. (Guilty)
4. Bugbears. The long and torturous routine of learning all your sidekicks’ little quirks and habits. The little things that you once found cute when you weren’t up in each others business 24/7 will start to get right on your goat. For example – the sidepiece does this weird noise when he has an itch on the inside of his throat that honestly drives me insane. So much so that he has started to do it more just to wind me up. I didn’t even know you could itch your throat from the inside! From leaving every door and cupboard ajar to still being incapable of making the bed in the correct/my way (or more often than not just being completely incapable of actually making it at all), the little things that you used to be able to laugh off will cause you to pull your hair out as you resist the urge to re-enact Brittany’s 2007 meltdown.
Now – I claim/wish/pretend that I’m a goddess, but I’m fully aware that I have my own quirks too, just like everyone else. So I asked the sidepiece to tell me a few things that simply drive him round the bend:
- Dust collectors. (Who doesn’t love a good ornament or basket that serves no purpose other than to look pretty?)
- Leaving dirty spoons/ utensils on the clean surface when I’m cooking.
- When I leave sharp knives in the sink.
- My inability to blow my nose properly when I have a cold. (He can’t accept that sometimes it’s impossible and sniffing repeatedly is the only option)
- Stray hairs getting in strange and uncomfortable places…
5. In the wise words of Maroon 5, “It’s not always rainbows and butterflies, it’s compromise that moves us along”. When living together, compromises come in all shapes and sizes. There comes a time when he will need to admit defeat and accept that you have pretty much full decorative control of your home, and you will need to accept that his city skyline canvas that you love so much is staying so that he can “leave his mark” (of course it’s still acceptable to dream of its demise). Recently I’ve started to understand just how different the sidepiece and I are – I’m bubbly, loud (sometimes too loud) and thrive off social interaction, whilst he is quieter and very happy in his own company. This is something we have found really difficult – finding the middle ground – and we’re still working on it. There are sacrifices – you come as a pair, which means there will be times that you have to put your big girl/boy pants on and do things you don’t want to do. On the other hand – there will be times when you will need to accept that they won’t always want to do exactly what you want to do. It’s called compromise.
6. Build a sanctuary for yourself. Have somewhere that you can escape to that’s just yours.
7. Adventure. I feel lucky to say that every day I get to come home to my best friend. Whenever things are tough I know that at the end of the day, I come home and I remember that I’ve actually got it pretty alright. Every day we share new experiences and we learn from each other – we’re on this adventure together. It’s so true that a problem shared, really is a problem halved and knowing that come rain or shine, he’ll be there… To be honest it doesn’t get much better than that.
8. Friends. It’s okay to still ask for advice and listen to what people think. It’s okay to question life choices and thoughts – always have a bunch of friends around you that give you all the things you need in life that your OH can’t. I couldn’t do without my gemstones – I definitely need a whole rabble of people around me to keep me sane!
9. The juice is worth the squeeze. Like the rest of the world we have our ups and downs, we bicker over who does the washing up, why the sidepiece takes hours in the bathroom and that I have the tendency to nag sometimes (I’m working on it), but when I last checked, that was pretty normal. Because we’re just normal people. Yes it’s hard sometimes, but in your heart you know that the juice is worth the squeeze.
10. Wine. It really does solve everything.
I guess we can all put our hands up and admit to getting slight pangs of jealousy, when you see that perfectly happy couple, with their perfect house and perfect life. But remember that perfectly happy couple? They have their own problems too, but just like the rest of us, they simply choose not to photograph those moments. I mean we don’t exactly take photos of the sidepiece having a strop because I managed to get my own way again, or the moment when I’m huddled on the sofa in my ugliest pjs having a cry over probably nothing important, because let’s face it… Who even wants to see that? We all have those “feeling sorry for ourselves” moments, that’s okay, and we all have days where we don’t feel like getting dressed, which are fine too. We just accidentally, on purpose forget to photograph those moments.
And through it all, together, we’ve made our house a home. A home where we learn so much more in life, where we welcome everybody in with laughter filling the rooms and memories being treasured. The place that we have put so much time, care and love into. The place that has started a new life, and stores memories. Where we grow as adults, good human beings. The place that sees laughter, sees tears, sees fun and games, sees arguments, sees frustration and most of all sees two ‘normal’ people learning every day to adapt, to better themselves and to see a new side to love. And do you know what, all of that is okay. It’s taken me sometime to understand, but finally, I completely get it. We did it – we cracked it. And it makes us feel proud. A huge sense of pride for what we’ve built. Together.
“Sometimes the hardest things
are the most rewarding.”