A Cohabitation Proclamation

Summer is upon us, friends. Do you have any big travel plans? I’ve got a few weddings in the works (always) always and the possibility of a late August camping trip of some kind (sure to be ripe for blog material), but the majority of my summer will be consumed – physically, emotionally and especially financially – by moving. My lease on my beloved apartment in Brooklyn is up July 31 and I’m moving out of one of the best NYC apartments I’ve encountered yet. And why? So I can shack up with a handsome new roommate.

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That’s right. We’re taking the plunge. Well, not the big one, but the small modern, sinful step of pre-marital cohabitation. So maybe we’re not at the plunge (yet!), but we’re definitely climbing up the diving board ladder.

I’m excited! Neither of us has ever lived in sin with a significant other before, so it’s a serious step, for both of us. And not one I’m taking lightly. I don’t judge anyone’s decisions to live how or where or with whom they please, but I know for a lot of people, cohabitation is a matter of convenience or a test to see if they’ll work it out for the long term but for me, and for the B-Man (I never call him that. Why did I just call him that?) is more just the next step in our big adventure together. It is important to me that the man I move in with … I can’t just move out from. We know that anything can happen but barring any unknowns, starting August 1, we’ll be eternal roomies.

A prospect both terrifying and exhilarating. Mostly exhilarating.

When I studied abroad in Belgium, which, have I even discussed that here? I should. Most of our stories are NSFB (Not Safe For Blogging), let’s just say we were never ever on our best behavior, but there are probably a few tales I could tell. Anyway, while abroad, we had to take a year long Dutch language class, a language which has come in handy exactly zero point zero times since, maybe until now. In Belgium and a lot of European countries, it’s not unusual for couples to live together for years before getting married, if ever getting married, even having children together. The Dutch have a special verb for this “wonen samen”, which translates into a phrase we don’t necessarily have words for in the English language: an unmarried couple living together.

I love that Dutch term and wish we had one similar. This morning while filling out paperwork with a realtor I had to list how many people would be in the apartment, two, and our relationship. “Boyfriend and Girlfriend” sounds trivial. “Partners” makes me think of those very intensely non traditional, liberal, artistic couples who wear a lot of scarves and live together for years but never marry and more power to ‘em, but calling Brian my partner, though he is, just doesn’t sound right for us. Special Roommates? Bed Buddies?

A problem, I know, that would be solved were we doing this the old fashioned “right” way by marrying first, then moving in, which, again, is a totally legitimate decision, if you choose to make it…but not the one that feels right for us. Or for for nearly half of the American population, so I do think we need some new vocab for the situation.

Any suggestions? As seen above, mine are pretty terrible!

Despite this huge number of pre-marital roomateships, many people still frown heavily upon it and we’re lucky that neither of our parents fall into that camp. I think they’d all wish the rings we’re about to share were for fingers, rather than house keys, but are supportive of our decisions, giving the oh-so-parental responses of “wellll, you’re adults and I guess that’s just how things are done these days.”

Indeed!

And so, here we are, gearing up to make this big step together. Before we can actually cohabitate, we’ll need, you know, a habitat.  How’s it going, so far? Not great. We rushed out Sunday morning to make it to an open house…only to learn the landlord thought it was for a different day, and wasn’t able to show. We then rearranged the remainder of our day to meet a broker at 3 PM for a few showings…and he blew us off.

So, yeah, things are off to a bang up start over here. But I remain optimistic. My anxiety is on hyperdrive and my fingernails are chewed to nil, already, but I’m optimistic.

And how could I not be? In just over a month, I’m going to get to wake up next to this face every day.

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Barf times one million, but I can’t help myself! I’m pumped. There are practical things that excite me about living together – no more lugging overnight bags to each others’ apartments, no more having to pack multiple lunches for days I won’t be at home to cook or having to split up Saturday mornings to run home and grab that one thing I need before meeting back up again for the day, more cooking for two. So mostly food and fashion related. What else would I care about?

But on the non-practical, overwhelmingly emotional side, I’m just very happy at the thought of sharing and building a home together. Waking up next to each other every morning and then going to sleep together at night. Coming home late nights to each other, cooking together, making decisions as a team.

Barf times one million and two.

Despite a cynical streak a mile wide, it turns out, I’m really kind of a hopeless romantic.

That said, I’m still a little nervous. Er, a lot nervous. I know we’ll have new things to fight about and challenges we never even could have imagined. If anyone out there has any tips on successful cohabitation, I’d LOVE to hear them. Specifically in regards to taking on joint finances when one of you is a responsible, practical math nerd and the other is a fiscal trainwreck with mountains of debt and a penchant for blowing all of their earnings on nail polish and organic nutbutters.

$10 (worth of nail polish) to the first person to correctly guess which one of us is which.

It’s going to be an adventure, without a doubt, but I think it will be a great one.

Now we just need a home to shack up in. Ack!

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19 thoughts on “A Cohabitation Proclamation

  1. It’s kind of annoying, but I liked having a joint account that we both put a percentage of our earnings in for living expenses. That way you keep your own account for nail polish and nutbutter splurges, and it avoids the need for any lengthy excel spreadsheet reconciliations.

  2. When my fiancé and I (I know we’re old fashion-ers) were looking for a house together, we found that the rental market was extremely competitive. Major bummer. So we had to step up our game. We brought all of the paperwork (w2’s, letters of employment, pay stubs, credit reports, and generic rental aps) all pre-filled out to an open house showing. One big packet of all the necessary information for two people to get a house. It impressed the pants off the showing agent and he picked us the next day. Perhaps this lil’ tip will help you guys. I hope you and the B-Man are successful!!

  3. Congrats! Doug and I moved in together after 3 years of dating (the last 2 of which were long-distance). Honestly, it really wasn’t a difficult adjustment at all like I worried it would be. It’s just been nice. Depending on your personalities, I would suggest getting a two-bedroom place over a one-bedroom place and turn one into a study/guest room/spare place to sit and read when you need time alone with your thoughts. That’s important to Doug and me, mostly because we both like to talk out loud to ourselves and both need separate space to do so for one to two hours per night 🙂

    We don’t really make any attempt to keep our finances separate anymore. Things kind of divided up naturally- I pay for groceries, he pays when we go out to eat (probably to look like a man) and whoever’s checkbook is closer pays the rent. I pay the bills just because he would never remember to, which was nice leverage to have when I convinced him to pay off a huge chunk of my student loans with his student loans, 🙂

    ALSO. I just read this study yesterday that says that co-habitators are happier than married couple:
    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/living-single/201201/is-cohabitation-bad-you-answers-6-year-study

    • Thanks!! We’d loooove a 2 bedroom (need that personal space!) but I don’t know if it will fit in our budget. Remind me again why we insist on living in NYC?

      And I love hearing that you sort of let finances happen naturally. A worry I have is that being too stringent about who paid for what and when and how might be almost more stressful than just working together. Interesting to hear it works for you!

      Aaand woo hoo for happy co-habitators! Interesting discussion of how much time you spend w/ friends & family when single vs when partnered. Aaaand I’ll stop here before I go on for 8 hours about this situation;).

  4. Oh! Oh! I have the word you’re looking for: http://caledonianmercury.com/2010/03/06/useful-scots-word-bidie-in/002876

    In other news, the responsible nerd and the one who has tons of debt and tons of nail polish describes my life SO well. I don’t want to hijack your comments section with tips for managing, so I’ll just leave you with this totally ominous advice: hang in there. When you’re sobbing in IKEA, know that it does get better. (I literally just wrote a post about this, I’m living proof!)

    • Bidie-in! LOVE. Let’s make it happen stateside.

      And thanks for your advice – I love reading your posts about living in sin & just caught up on the original comforter post. Dying laughing. Brian has THE worst bedding (like weird fleece blankets circa 1982) and insists on sleeping in flannel sheets year round, even when it’s 100 degrees out. Sooo yeah, stay tuned for our inevitable edition of the comforter wars.

  5. So when you find another word for living together, can you also find some new ones for love? The English language does not allow for feelings! Why do I love my cat, niece, boyfriend, and mother using the same word? Feelings are def different there. I can also love my coffee. But if I loved my coffee the same way I loved my boyfriend…… I guess let’s not go there.

    Anyway, good for you! Sounds like a smart grown up decision. Maybe Brian will be able to figure out your fiscal train wreck.

  6. I searched blogs for the tag “living together” because I just moved in with my man 2 weeks ago. LOVE your post and your blog. ““Partners” makes me think of those very intensely non traditional, liberal, artistic couples who wear a lot of scarves and live together for years but never marry” made me giggle. Congrats on taking your relationship to the next level–it’s not always easy but it’s so awesome! Hopefully will see more posts about your transition 🙂

    -Victoria

  7. 1. I call Jeremy my non-husband.

    2. This is basically what ‘mjanon’ said but we do one joint bank account which pulls an equal amount from our individual accounts 3 days after payday – we use it for all joined finances (mortgage, food, bills etc). Then we pay for our individual crapola (school loans, credit cards, nail polish etc) with our own accounts….which on my end includes occasional necessary binges at Anthro or Marshalls and him on motorcycle parts and weird boy things. We started this right when we moved in together 6 years ago and it has worked flawlessly. (Our joint account is through Ing Direct which recently became Capital One. Super easy to use…I highly recommend it!)

    3. One last bit of advice. We used to sit down and do the bills together which we learned we both did differently – timing, organization, process. It always ended in a fight (not to say this will happen to you guys) but we came to the realization that it didn’t need to be a team effort once a month – one person could do it alone…way more effectively. So Jeremy took on that burden and I clean toilets. Win. Win?

    Hearts and good luck hunting!

    • Thanks cuz! All amazing advice…esp the financial stuffs. I have a feeling we’ll do better dividing & conquering too, rather than always doing certain things as a team.

      Yay!

  8. Pingback: Cohabitation Situation Information Updation | One Awkward Year

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