The other day we were visiting some dear friends who had just moved in together, after they had dated for four years while living separately. They described to us their unique arrangement of sleeping together and sleeping apart. They had decided that they would keep the same pattern (at least in the beginning) that had worked for them when they were living separately. They would sleep together three nights a week, and on the other nights, they would maintain their privacy within their home and honor each other in separate spaces.
This triggered a conversation which we would like to share with all of you, and we’d love if you’d share your opinions and experiences with us.
The issue of whether to live together and how to live together or apart is one which is dealt with by many of the couples we have interviewed. One couple who have been together for ten years still maintain separate places. People have very different and varied arrangements, from living together and sharing all aspects of their lives, such as space, finances, decisions, travel, to those who have very clearly defined limits on what is shared and what is not.
The important point is to pick an arrangement that you like and to keep experimenting till you find out what works for both of you. There are so many societal and familial expectations and images of what constitutes a relationship or marriage. These often have nothing to do with the individuals involved, but rather are things that were originally necessary for survival, for child rearing or for what was thought to be the good of the community at large. It’s no longer the 1950s, but our culture is still full of these: use a bed to sleep in; own a smart phone; don’t wear clothes with holes in (unless they’re jeans!)
The urge to conform is probably a key element of how human society is organized, yet though that urge has social benefits in some areas, e.g. driving on the right (sorry, British readers), it sometimes just clips the wings of our individual quirks. When making choices about money, sex, chores, paint colors or religion, listen carefully to your inner voice and find out what works for the two of you, regardless of what others are doing. With money, for instance, you might have separate accounts or joint accounts. You might put in a fixed amount and keep the rest for personal spending, or vice versa. You might go 50/50 or tie it to incomes. You might include non-monetary contributions like a vegetable garden in the equation. You might have no fixed rules at all. You might take savings or an inheritance or a lottery win into account. The point is to choose what works for the two of you.
Don’t restrict what works for you by trying to conform to social expectations #relationships #quote Click To TweetWe urge you to feel free to create your own patterns and ways to live and be together. Whether it be how you express your love, what gender you relate to, how you merge or do not merge your finances or determine what fiscal responsibility is, whether it be your sexual preferences or how you express intimacy with each other, make every effort to find it together, and make it work for you and your partner. These things should be reviewed and renewed regularly as well, so you do not stay in old agreements and patterns that no longer fit who you are as individuals and as a couple.
Do not be afraid to experiment with different ways of doing things, as long as you are both willing to try something new. The more the way you are together fits the way you are in the present, the happier and more successful your relationship and each of you will be.