There is a time, well, a period of time in any relationship when “I” and “I” become “us” and “we”. Each person adapts themselves, their behaviours and lifestyle to accommodate the other person so that they can live together without killing each other or a minor disagreement dissolving into a red – faced screaming match at eardrum shattering volume heard by everyone within a 500 yard radius.
Before I met my sweetheart I had been living alone for around six years. I don’t count the five weeks I lived with my previous girlfriend when between rentals as that was more a case of me bringing a bag and having somewhere to shower and sleep. There was absolutely no way we were going to live together, as her place was even smaller than mine and in no way suitable for two people. Over those six years I had developed a number of habits that didn’t affect anyone else and made my life simpler. For instance, I had the habit of leaving clean pans on the drying mat, leaving clean laundry in the basket until I either needed to wear it or couldn’t cram any more in. I will admit that I would often leave my clothes lying on the bedroom floor for lack of anywhere better to place them, and of course, as a guy living alone, I didn’t bother to close the bathroom door.
This particular habit had it’s uses, though. The downstairs powder room opened into the living/dining room, so if I was watching a movie or a football match I didn’t need to pause the action in order to take care of business. Please,whatever you do, don’t think about that image. When it comes to living alone, we all fall into routines that make our lives easier and at some point we just don’t see them any more.
Then it happens: you meet someone special and you do your best to create as favourable an impression as possible: the kitchen counters are spotless and uncluttered, the bathroom is neat and clean, the bed is made. The list is endless and well known. Of course, after a while the charade is dropped and the process of actually living returns to the fore.
Of course, most of the early part of the relationship involves short stays at each other’s home, so in reality not a lot changes as first, as a weekend isn’t really long enough for things to become annoying, but eventually you decide that it makes sense to live together and then the process really gets under way. For us this happened rather quickly: I moved in four months to the day from our first date. Yes, I know that is rather quick, but it very quickly became apparent that it was the right thing to do, and as we are both adults, why wait?
I will admit that at first I felt like a visitor and that the place wasn’t really my home, but this feeling soon passed and settled in to what was now my normal routine. My main adjustment was in the kitchen. You see, my sweetheart is paranoid about her kitchen counter tops, as she readily admits, and swoops on any sign of moisture or food as soon as she sees them. It took me a while to get used to this, as I didn’t really care too much about the Formica in my old kitchen beyond the desire to avoid getting charged with the replacement cost should I have damaged them. I’ve become more conscientious about spilling on the stove top, but I still leave shreds of cheese scattered around from time to time despite my best efforts.
In my former life my bathroom counter was littered with toiletries of various sorts, including those left by the kids, largely due to lack of storage space, but now everything except my toothbrush it’s recharger are tucked away under the sink. I will admit that this took a bit of getting used to, but now I find that I prefer having an uncluttered counter, and appreciate the much tidier appearance.
Lest you think this is a one way street, it isn’t. My sweetheart has accepted that I will leave clothes on the Ottoman, and in one respect she has changed completely. When I first moved to the U.S. it took me some time to adapt to the habit of taking off one’s shoes upon entering the house. This was a totally alien concept to me, but of course, it makes sense and now I do so without thinking. My sweetheart, on the other hand, left her shoes on, this despite the fact that she lived in Japan for some time and must have been accustomed to this habit. I found it rather odd, to be honest, and even though it is her house, she quickly consented to remove her shoes once indoors. I know this sounds a bit weird, but I just don’t understand why anyone would leave their street shoes on when coming indoors, even though it was an alien concept to me.
I suppose that we all make changes to the way we behave over time. Some of them are forced, some of them are difficult, awkward or uncomfortable, but I suppose that it is all a part of life, and as long as it makes the other person happy, it is all in a good cause. My Sweetheart has now even started watching English football with me, something I never expected, so I guess she has made some sacrifices too. Let’s all hope Liverpool have a good season next year!