Our Co-Habitating Must Haves

We're about a month away from having lived in our house for a full year now, isn't that crazy?  I don't know if it was just because we were so busy the 6 months John was in the fire academy or what, but it honestly feels like we just moved in.  It certainly doesn't feel like one year.  And speaking of anniversaries, yesterday marked 4 years that John and I have been (officially) dating.  Doesn't feel like 4 years there either!

I thought about the different ways I could write up a blog post about our anniversary and about our upcoming home anniversary, something that didn't just involve sharing photos of us over the years.  I settled on this, our co-habitating must haves that have proved critical since moving in here.  Because one thing I have to say that I think is pretty fantastic - living here and living with John has been totally smooth sailing.  (And I asked him last night, he agrees!)  At the beginning I worried that it would be a lot of bickering because I had some friends who moved in with their significant others and had a rough time, but I quickly realized that was their reality, not mine - and they're still fighting to this day so it's just who they are, I suppose.  John and I are not arguers by nature (actually I am, very much so, but since I do it for 9 hours a day at my office, it's totally out of my system by the time I get home!) so we've just a handful of arguments over the last year and none of them about living together.

Here are the must-haves that I think have made the biggest impact for us:

Alone Time

I'm an only child, John is a Cancer and an introvert.  We both need alone time.  I already talked about how I get that time when he's away on shift in the fire life post last month.  But he needs alone time too, especially after being at the firehouse for 24 hours straight with all the other guys.  He's able to get this during the week when he's off and I have work, but if he comes home and I'm off of work, I remember to give him some time by himself just to unwind.  He usually watches crap TV or old wrestling shows.  Sometimes arguments stem from just being too mentally wound up yourself and you end up taking out on the person closest to you when all you really needed was some down time.

Organizational System

I love being organized, we all know that.  And it's helped here because we both know where everything is so he doesn't need to ask me to find stuff and we can both put things back where they belong properly.  It's saved a lot of arguments because we both like having a clean and organized space and if one of us has company coming over last minute, we can both pitch in and get anything put away or cleaned in mere seconds because we're on the same page about organization.  No questioning where stuff is, nagging why something is still laying out, or arguing about whether a missing item was thrown away by the other person.

Separation of Chores

We didn't actually discuss this but it's always been understood that he does outside work, I do inside work.  I have never mowed grass or raked leaves in my life and I'm certainly not about to start now.  He finds this work relaxing (wtf?) so he doesn't mind it.  (One thing I do outside is shovel snow because I freaking love snow and even shoveling it is fun for me.  He hates it.)  On the flip side, I find the indoor housework like cleaning to be soothing and I place a high value on a clean home so the benefits of cleaning regularly are worth it to me.  He isn't bothered by clutter so he just wouldn't remember to do it.  His indoor task is taking the garbage out.  I guess that's a partly outdoor task as well?  It's the one thing I hate most - taking the trash to the trash can.  Cannot bring myself to do it.

I highly recommend a separation of chores in your house and an understanding of who will do what.  Logically, it makes sense that if the dishwasher is clean then whoever has the time will empty it, if sheets need to be washed then whoever has Sunday off will work on that, but in practice, it doesn't work.  One of you will always place a higher priority on those things and end up doing them more often, resenting the person you feel is being 'lazy.'  If we did it this way, John would wash the sheets 1 time to every 5 times I did.  Likewise, I'd let the grass get up to our knees before I bothered pulling the mower out.  Having it defined like this means the tasks actually get done and neither of us feels like we're doing all the work.  Plus, no nagging!  I don't need to ask John to pull weeds, he doesn't need to ask me to mop floors.  We know it's on our individual task lists and if it seems like the other person isn't getting it done, we know there's probably a really good reason (extra work, illness, etc.)

Routines in General

This goes along with organization and chores, but having routines in general helps a lot with tempering expectations.  John knows that I have my morning routine that involves making coffee and getting dressed and ready for the day so he knows he can't spring anything on me first thing.  If he wants me at a morning event (like when his brother coaches little league football games), he knows he has to tell me the night before so I can set my alarm appropriately.  Likewise, he has a routine when he gets done with work that involves walking Hawkeye, showering, getting a nap in, and lifting weights.  I know not to plan anything for those couple of hours and also not to ask him to do anything too time consuming just because he's coming off of work and has the time.  We both know what to expect each day as far as time commitments and even things like when dinner will be without having to compare schedules all the time.

Extra Chargers

And long ones, long chargers for the win.  I have always been perfectly fine with just one charger, I leave it by the bed and charge my phone while I sleep.  John loves having them all over the place, so he would take one downstairs to watch TV and then forget it and when he needed one by the TV upstairs while he shines his boots, he would take mine out of the bedroom.  Which of course I couldn't find when I went to bed.  Now there's just chargers everywhere, I don't even care about all the extra cables.

Those are just a couple of things that came to mind when I thought about how easy this transition has been for us, I hope they help you too.  What are some of your must haves when it comes to keeping the peace with your significant other?

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