Hi! Kenny’s better half here :) My now fiance and I dated for a little over a year before he popped the question in January. In May I moved in, and in December, we will be married. There are varying opinions regarding when couples should begin living together. Some might argue that moving in together before marriage jeopardizes the relationship, while others might argue that doing so allows the couple to adjust to one another and iron out the kinks before tying the knot. I don’t think that this is a one-size-fits-all answer; the couple has to do what’s best for them.
A little history before I continue: In my adult life I have lived alone, with a roommate, and with my immediate family. There are pros and cons to each, and I bring to my romantic relationship a little from each of those types of living arrangements.
But never have I ever lived with someone with whom I was in a relationship. This is definitely different from all the rest! So far, living together has been mostly smooth in my opinion. That being said, the experience has not been without its challenges. The top three adjustments I have had to make with respect to my current living situation relate to schedules, habits, and communication.
I moved in right before another major life transition: full-time employment at a hospital. My schedule has ranged from five 8-hour shifts to three 12-hour shifts. I even take call and had to work the overnight shift once. The days of the week that I work change with the wind. Kenny's schedule, on the other hand, is consistent.
The adjustment for me has been coordinating who’s going to do what when and also finding time for ourselves and for one another. I try to do my chores in the mornings since I have been consistently on second shift for a few weeks now. I like my days off to truly be my days off if I can help it. Since COVID, Kenny has been working both from home and at the office. When he is at the office, I find time for me. I let him know my schedule in advance when I have it so that we can plan our time together accordingly. This is different for me, as I am used to a little more consistency. And so is he.
When we were still in the boyfriend/girlfriend phase, and I was not yet working my current job, I would go over to his place pretty much the same days each week in the evening time and I worked the weekends. Since I was living with my family at the time, I didn’t have to really worry about household chores or really even about cooking regularly. Those weren’t things I had to fit into my schedule because I had people helping me as I put myself through school. It was nice while it lasted. But as I transition into a new role, I find that it has been helpful to navigate what this sort of thing looks like during the engagement phase. I won’t have as much of the figuring out how I’m going to fit certain tasks and responsibilities into my schedule once we’re married. That being said, I am going to school for another degree this fall - which will be yet another adjustment.
Habits can be both good and bad. Kenny has a good habit, I guess you could say, of asking me what I want to eat and providing. This is especially good for me, as sometimes I get so caught up that I forget to eat or “don’t have time” for it. It is great to come home to food on those long work evenings with no break. He also has a good habit of making sure that we are intentional about spending time together by holding us accountable for our monthly “big date night.”
Kenny does have some bad habits too though. At least that’s how I describe them. He hates doing dishes, so he will let them pile up in the sink. I hate washing them too, but I feel like letting them pile up just makes the chore even worse. He does his own laundry, but he’s not so quick to fold it and put it away. And, of course, he leaves the toilet seat up. I have lived with males for most of my life. But neither of my brothers does that...call me spoiled.
The adjustment for me has been having to stop being so indecisive when it comes to what I want to eat or do. I’ve also had to get back in the habit of washing dishes regularly. I haven’t been responsible for dishes in a while, as my mom got her dishwasher fixed a while back. In the effort to “choose my battles,” I have just learned to fold his clothes when they're done and to put the seat down. I have never done this for other people before. Even when I had roommates, we were still very much responsible for ourselves. When you’re in a relationship though, you do your best to help your partner and do little things to make his/her day a little better or easier.
This is something that has come up in our (and probably every couple's) premarital counseling sessions. I am an introverted product of introverted parents. Furthermore, my brothers had social and developmental delays. Needless to say, communication and talking in general have never been my strong suit. And then I struggle with social anxiety on top of that.
The adjustment for me has been trying to not be so quiet, which is my default. I remember when were in the pre-engagement phase, Kenny told me that he thought I didn't like him because I'm not "chatty" like other girls. I have to be very intentional about saying what's on my mind and talking about my day, as it doesn't come naturally to me. I've noticed about myself that I'm more likely to talk when prompted or asked a question; rarely do I just volunteer information. Most of the time I keep most things to myself, but I am improving and know that our relationship will be stronger for it.
To be honest, I mostly moved in when I did out of convenience. I was done with school and wouldn't start working full time for a couple of weeks. All I had was time. While there are more things I've had to adapt to and things that I've encountered that are unlike any other living arrangement I've had, I think we made the right decision for us.