There's a post flying around social media at the moment that explains what living together as a couple is really like. I won't repeat the entire thing here, but the basic summary is this: living with the one you love isn't falling asleep cuddling and eating breakfast together every day, it's screaming at each other about nothing, being so tired that you fall asleep on separate couches, and crying because they haven't done the washing you reminded them about five times.
I saw this post approximately two weeks into living with Dale, and frowned at it. Surely if you're not eating together and you do a lot of screaming and crying because of the behaviour of the person you're living with, you shouldn't be living together?
I voiced this to a few people. Some of them absolutely agreed with me. If you're screaming at each other every day, something is not quite right. Others gave me a patronising smile and told me to just wait.
We've now lived together for seven months.
Now that is not a lifetime. So there's still time to be proven wrong.
But I still say if you're screaming at one another and crying about the washing, perhaps you're not as happy as you could be.
So I thought I would write my own version of what living together means, now that we're a bit further along the road...
There are The Parts We Always Imagined...
1) Cuddles On Tap
Now if Dale were writing this, perhaps this wouldn't be on his list of great things about living with me. Perhaps it would be on his list of things he just has to put up with. But I'm sure that's only because for some reason he doesn't want to admit how wonderful it is.
The other day I was with Lady Adelaide and Pumbaa and their husbands, and it was their husbands that were expressing their love of cuddles, and the ladies that were saying that they sometimes need their own space when it's this hot. Not me. I need some peace to write, and space to do my makeup, but I'm never too hot or too busy for cuddles.
Unlike the couple from the social media post, we do tend to sleep in the same bed rather than separate couches, and we do manage to cuddle rather than screaming at each other.
Again, the social media post insisted that instead of breakfast together, it's slanging matches that start the day when you wake up on separate couches in the morning.
We don't have breakfast together every single day, we don't feed each other pieces of toast, or eat two ends of a pecan plait until our lips meet in the middle, but on a Sunday we normally have eggs on toast in front of the television with the quilt over us. If it's a really special occasion we'll have croissants. And by special occasion I mean the sun's out. Or one of us bought a new pen this week.
3) Time together
It might sound obvious, but lots of people told me that when you live together you actually don't spend much more time together than when you were apart because you don't prioritise time together like you did when you could only see each other at weekends.
We haven't found that.
We have synced calendars so that we can make sure we've got lazy days planned in, and we normally end up going out together at the weekends in between anyway- mainly because the reason we moved in together in the first place is that we're best friends.
Before we took the leap I thought that I would miss having all day at work on a Saturday to be really excited to see Dale again at the weekend.
Turns out now I just spend all day every day excited to see him again tonight.
There are The Pleasant Surprises...
1) Opportunities to Be Nice
A few Sundays ago I woke up and realised that we didn't have any eggs. Dale hopped out of bed like a hero and declared that he would go to Tesco to buy some. Then he realised it was eight thirty on a Sunday and no shops would be open.
I explained that that was fine. I could wait until ten. At nine forty I announced that I was too hungry to wait. I would have a banana. Once again my hero jumped up, and this time got dressed and went to a Tesco Local so that I wouldn't have to wait any longer.
Before we lived together Dale was so nice to me, and he does continue to be. But when you live together the opportunities do little nice things for each other increase ten fold, and I like to think Dale and I are excellent at embracing them.
2) The Little Things
The silly in jokes, the terrible singing and dancing around the kitchen, the weird eating habits. Getting to know the little things about one another has been one of my favourite things about the past seven months. I hadn't thought there was much for me to learn. How wrong I was.
3) Keeping my Sanity
Dale has a No Talking About Work rule in the flat, which has genuinely turned my mental health around. I have a forty minute drive home in which I clear all the cobwebs from a busy day at work, and then have a totally separate life at home. It means that I enjoy my evenings and weekends more, sleep better, and do a lot less worrying.
And then there are The Parts Everyone Told Us About...
1) Driving Each Other Crazy
I'm not talking about screaming and crying at each other because of washing here. I'm talking about him rolling his eyes and telling me I've used up my quota of the word love for this week because it's 8.02am on Monday and I've already told him twenty five times how much I love him. I'm talking about having to open every single window when he hangs up his running shorts over the shower because they smell disgusting. (FYI: one of my favourite things about Dale has always been that he always smells like a combination of Abercrombie and toothpaste. One thing I've learnt in the past seven months is that the only time he doesn't smell like that is after a run. I won't go into too much detail. Use your imagination.) I'm talking about our regular disagreements on what a made bed looks like. He says my standards are unreasonably high. I say if the cushions are still littered all over the bedroom floor, the bed is not made.
We don't scream about these things. We roll our eyes a lot, make fun of each other a lot, and accept certain irreversible truths.
2) Knowing Everything
There's nothing I wish I didn't know about Dale. But there are a lot of things I wish he didn't know about me. What I've discovered about myself since we moved in together is that I kid myself a lot. I make a lot of promises to myself that I don't keep- mostly involving getting up early, eating less sugar, drinking less coffee, and watching less television. Before I lived with Dale I would declare these changes to nobody in particular and then when, three days later, I was curled up watching yet another episode of Friends at ten am with a caramel cupcake, nobody would bat an eyelid and I would have forgotten all about that naive vow that I made. I can no longer get away with that now that somebody actually listens to me.
3) Seeing Everything
Having spent the first two and a half years of our relationship going to the effort of tricking Dale into thinking I was a real life princess, I have spent the past seven months proving that I'm closer to one of the strange creatures from Monsters Inc. He now knows that I wake up looking like Anna in Frozen on the day of the coronation. I spend a lot of time in comfy clothes, am always tired and almost always have the symptoms of a cold, take far too much enjoyment in a cup of coffee, spend far too much time reading and am unreasonably worried about the scent of every room.
And here he is. Rolling his eyes, making fun of me, cuddling me, buying me eggs, listening to my nonsense and remembering it, making me laugh at least ten times a day, keeping me sane, half making the bed, looking after me when I'm ill, surprising me with treats, missing me when I'm not there, reassuring me when internet bullies decide they don't like my writing, cuddling me after a hard day, cuddling me after an easy day, and allowing me to write all about it for goodness-knows-who to read. And he does it all despite knowing all the gory details of who I really am.
This is our version of living together, and I like to think it will stay that way.
I'm sure we'll find all kinds of other horrifying things out about each other. I'm sure we'll continue to disagree about the important things in life like the making of the bed and the regularity of washing the towels, but I like to think we will also continue to laugh, to care, and to love far too much.