If you’re aware of our background, Charles and I had a long-distance relationship until very recently. Even after we got engaged. In fact, we left it a full four days after getting married before I had my worldly goods packed up into a moving van to be dragged the 99 miles down to Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders. Why did we wait so long? Well, I’m starting to wonder that myself now I’m here. Moving meant leaving my job. Well, not when I first planned to move it didn’t as I was given the impression I would be able to work largely from home, but when we first got engaged, say, I was in the middle of my professional exams and building up my career, so a flat, a mortgage and a steady income were things we both thought were worth staying for. On Charles’ end, he had his family’s construction business, his own two businesses (a B&B and a picture framing business) and the offer of a brand new house a year or so down the line. And of course, we each had our respective families to think about. So, we stayed where we were and battled on with our long distance relationship, keeping ourselves busy with work, planning our wedding and starting up our blogs. We were happy. We texted throughout the course of the day, and committed around an hour and half to a good old fashioned phone chat most evenings, and we were happy. We missed each other, but, fundamentally, we were happy.
Last Monday, all of that changed. I’m currently on garden leave from my job, leaving me with lots of free time but feeling pretty useless, and our house isn’t yet ready. We’re still missing gas, power, carpets and water. Just the little things then. But we’re hoping that with a little bit of extra work we can be moved in within the next month or so. It’s still something wonderful to look forward to and plan for, but in the mean time, living together for the first time has been made that little bit harder, with the two of us sharing two rooms and a small hallway most evenings when there are B&B guests in residence. Thankfully, having the run of the B&B during the day and being able to use the kitchen when the guests are out at the local pub means we are still provided with a level of comfort and we are managing to blend our two lives into one relatively seamlessly.
Nevertheless, I thought I would share some of the things I’ve been learning along the way, to help anyone who’s moving in with their other half, or indeed any housemate, for the first time.
It goes without saying that switching from living on your own where pretty much everything you do is at your own pace and according to your own wants and needs to sharing a space and a life with someone else is going to need some moral fibre, consideration and patience. This simply will not work if you think you can keep up the same routine, having the same long shower at the same awkward time, sitting up until 2am watching YouTube videos and finishing the loo roll without making sure there’s another one waiting nearby. So before you crash in clearing wardrobe space and filling the kitchen cupboards with your protein bars, take a breath and think how it would feel if was your home that was being invaded by an incomer. You haven’t moved anywhere and yet your way of life is being disrupted. Of course, you should want to feel at home, and you should be able to as time goes on, but that might mean making some compromises and it will certainly mean asking permission before you ride roughshod through the place.
Be prepared to let go to protect your relationship
On that same theme, you must be prepared to let go of particular habits, foibles and fussiness. If you like to listen to trance music at 3am, whilst your boyfriend or roomie prefers to be tucked up in bed at 10pm ready for an early start, it would be rather selfish of you to continue with these late night raves, so bring them forward or let them go. You may well find that curling up in front of the TV together and getting an early night is exactly what you need. It’s a new phase in your life so don’t be afraid to grow up if you have to. Not only will some of your interests be affected, but also your general way of going about life. Walk more quietly, don’t sing loudly and out of tune every time you have a shower, and refill the kettle after you make a cup of tea. On the same theme, try not to be easily angered by the little things your cohabitee does which might serve to annoy the hell out of you. Chances are, they’re not doing these things specifically to annoy you, but simply because they haven’t thought that it might annoy you and are just going about their way of doing things. So the next time he leaves his pants on the bathroom floor, chuck them in the laundry basket – you’re probably going anyway and it really isn’t worth starting a fight over. If it’s something you really can’t bear after finding your blood boiling one too many times and you feel you realy have to raise the issue, choose your time and tone well. Ask nicely, or make a joke of it, if he agrees to try, it’s a win. Consider intention rather than initial results and remember that there are probably as many things you do which annoy him just as much, only he’s too much of a gent to mention them.
Establish a new routine
On the same theme, you should consider that your individual routines aren’t likley to be able to slot seamlessly together, at least without one of you bothering the other or never having time to see each other. It may be a delicate art, or you may just need to move a couple of things around, but you have to recognise that you’re going from being two completely separate entities to two being orbiting the same planet: if you don’t want to collide you should think about altering your paths of orbit.That could be as simple as changing your meal times or pushing back when you go to the gym, to something more severe such as the time you get up or go to bed. Try not to become a victim. Think of it as a beginning, not an ending. Most of all, remember why you made the move in the first place. Unless you’re willing to change your way of life, you’re never going to quite reach the level of coupledom you’re aspiring to. It’s not about me any more; it’s about becoming an us.
Spend some time apart
Even the most saintly and generous of persons will find moving in with someone for the first time difficult at times. Just because I have some advice as to how things can be made eventually easier, it doesn’t mean I have all the answers or that the process of achiving things won’t be hard. By living together you will see more of each other than ever before. You will see the best of each other, but there will also come a time when you see the worst, and living out of each other’s pockets will not only make those latter occasions more likely to explode into something potentially irreparable, but it will make any time you are forced to spend apart once you have moulded into each other that little bit more difficult. So whilst it’s really important to be able to bend like a reed in the wind, it’s also important that you remember who you are underneath it all, where you want to be and where your roots are. Remember you have friends and family elsewhere and don’t be afraid to spend some time with them, and try not to forget your dreams and ambitions before you became an us: you can have your own separate aims and achievements without putting your ‘us’ at risk. Both of these things entail spending some time apart, be it on weekends visiting family and friends, be it at work or after work activities, or simply by getting out on your own for a walk or shutting yourself in a different room in the house. You don’t solely exist to make a relationship work.
Keep up your own hobbies and interests
Where there was life before the two of you lived together, there may well, if you’re unlucky, be a life where you find yourselves apart again. For that reason, and to just keep hold of yourself, and spend some healthy time apart, keep up your hobbies and interests. Of course, you may find that your hobbies and interests are things you can do together, such as the camera club Charles and I are thinking of joining, or you may find that the time you have available to commit to your own endeavours is limited, but if there are a few you feel really passionate about, find a way to fit them into your routine. Chances are, the other half of you will want time to spend on their own hobbies too. for example, I took up Blogilates in the run up to our wedding, and I’ve enjoyed feel fitter and stronger as a result, so I want to keep it up. I’ve managed to keep it to roughly the same time of day as I used to before I moved, but I keep it flexible so that it can be fitted around when I’m not needed for anything and to coincide with Charles’ daily catch-up with his family. Likewise, I find time to read when the men are watching cricket….
As with any relationship milestone or stumbling block, communication is key to getting to the same place together. If you have any worries, share them. If one of you has an issue with something the other one is doing, raise it kindly before it mushrooms. On the flip side, you don’t want to be complaining all the time, and you want your shared home to be a nice place to live. Remember, as with dogs, positive reinforcement is stronger than whinging! If your other half does something kind or helpful, remember to thank them. If they achieve something, congratulate them. If you like the meal they cooked you, tell them so. Just be a nice person!
Most importantly, remember why you decided to move in together in the first place as often as is practical. It’ll take you a lot further than you might think.
Sorry to go all deep on you there! We promised to share a bit more about our new adventures into marriage and moving into our new home as well as our recipes. If you enjoyed reading this post, please comment below so we know to keep them coming, and if you think we ought to stick to the recipes, we’re happy to hear that too!