So here we are, at the last major challenge I mentioned in my Hello Milton… post several weeks ago. What it all comes down to is living with a boy for the first time. That is, living with a “farm boy,” who grew up in Milton, and is the boyest boy (that should really be a term) out there. While I like to think Taylor and I have a great deal in common, our differences are immediately more obvious than our similarities. Taylor is incredibly athletic and sports orientated; I cannot throw or catch a ball for my life. I love to read; Taylor would not pick up a book and read it if his Proline picks for the week depended on it. I do computers; Taylor does physical labour. I get manicures; Taylor works on his callouses. I enjoy the city; Taylor prefers the country. I think you get the point. What bonds us together and what brought us together in the first place are our shared values and our goals in life, not our hobbies or interests.
So how do two people who are so different make it work? The truth is, like all things that are worth it in life, you have to work at it.
9 Tips on how to enjoy living with a boy (after moving to the suburbs):
- Learn to let go. Of course you have standards, and so does he, but just because something is important to you doesn’t mean it’s important to him. Yes, you go crazy if there’s toothpaste stuck to the sink, but you can’t expect him to be bothered by that too. It’s likely something his eyes just glaze over, and it’s as good as not there. It’s important to have a discussion about those things that bother each of you the most, and come to an agreement on what is most important. Let the rest go.
- Find your ‘thing’ as a couple. That is, find something that you love to do together. It may end up being something new to both of you, or it may be something you have always been interested in. No matter what your thing is, it has to be something you can enjoy as a couple and something you reserve for just the
two of you. I grew up gardening, and Taylor is a Landscaper, so gardening easily became one of our things. As I mentioned in the Charms of the farm… post, we create a vegetable garden every year. Another hobby, which admittedly we do less often, is hiking. This is something that became a new hobby for both of us, and has turned out to be something we really enjoy doing together.
- Maintain your own ‘thing’. While it’s important to have activities that you do
together, it’s also important to have your own hobbies. These are likely things that you were into before, but it’s always good to be on the look-out for new ones. My ‘things’ are yoga, running, reading, and going to Toronto for good food and drinks with my friends. Taylor’s are golf, hockey, bowling, and most anything he can do with his guy friends. These hobbies are at the center of who we are and it’s important to keep them up.
- Have some shared friends and some friends you keep for yourself. When you come together as a couple from different places, you will naturally have different friends. While you will want to have some mutual friends, you don’t need to share ALL of your friends. He’s going to have friends that you don’t have much in common with, and vice versa. You will likely find that you end up with one group of shared friends that hangs out together all of the time (they probably live where you live), while the rest of
your friends are simply your partner’s acquaintances…that is it, and that’s OK.
- Be romantic! Make a point of staying romantic. You moved to the ‘burbs for a reason! Taylor is incredibly good at making me feel important to him, and he never misses an opportunity to tell me so. I try to do the same in return. It’s important. We also make a point of having dates on a regular basis, and I’m not talking a few hours here and there. We have date days! Usually these involve a few errands, but we always try to spend most of it doing something we enjoy together. This helps to keep our relationship a relationship, not a marathon of to do lists.
- Defined responsibilities. While I am all for breaking that glass ceiling and destroying gender roles, I do think it’s important to openly discuss and determine who is responsible for what on a weekly basis. It avoids that
whole game of waiting each other out, which you inevitably feel like you’ve lost. Openly talk about what things MUST be done (refer to tip #1), and who will handle them. Living in the suburbs, this list can be long and overwhelming, so divide and conquer! And, if you want to do something really nice for your partner, you can always surprise them by doing one of their tasks for them. They will notice and they will appreciate it.
- Put them first, sometimes. I know they say love is about giving up your own needs for the needs of another, but I have to say, I am not one hundred percent on board with that. You don’t want to lose yourself and give up your entire being for the sake of someone else. If you both do that, what’s left? Two versions of the same person? Being the same is not what makes the world go round. What I propose is something less transformational. Instead of always thinking about what’s in it for me, try to often think of what’s in it for them? It will change your perspective and maybe you can come up with a solution that makes you both happy.
- Sometimes you are right. Sometimes you are wrong. That’s about it. Admit when you are wrong, and do not gloat when you are right (well, not too much anyway).
- When you are ready… share a new responsibility. Sharing responsibility for something that is important to you both provides a feeling of of camaraderie. Buying a new house together is a good example, or planning a big trip together, or if you really want to go big, have a baby (I am only kidding – this is not a real tip!). Our first shared responsibility was when we got our dog, Dexter. Dexter has brought Taylor and I closer, in more ways than I am sure either of us realize. He has given us the opportunity to raise him together: caring for him, training him, teaching him, and loving him. He provides endless entertainment and companionship for us both, especially when one of us is away. On top of that, loving Dexter reminds us both how much we love each other.
Of course, I can’t promise that these will come easily, or that they will make for a perfect relationship, because there is no such thing. Remembering that will help keep your expectations in check and remind you why you moved in together in the first place, and will keep what’s truly important in your heart. Now go love and be loved!
Before you go, here is just one example of the pure entertainment Dexter provides us on a regular basis. I promise, there will be more on Dexter in future posts.