This past weekend Jack and I settled onto his couch to watch a movie with an absolutely outstanding bottle of 2005 Majella Sparkling Shiraz (look it up if you want a mouthgasm). About three quarters of the way through the movie we finished the wine and I was feeling great. When I’m in that state (i.e. drunk and happy) my verbal filter comes right off. I will say whatever is honestly on my mind. That night was no different, as I confessed to him that, “I feel like I’m done looking.” Yikes. There I go letting shit fly out of my mouth prematurely in this relationship yet again. Thankfully, it didn’t send him running out of his own house just to get away from me. In fact, he took me upstairs and drove me crazy until we were exhausted, tangled, and falling asleep.
With this new turn of relationship bliss, I’ve been forced to think about how I’d like to see things between us progress. I meant what I said; for the first time ever I feel like I’m done looking. I’m not constantly having thoughts of where I’m going next in my dating life. This relationship is where I feel like I belong. At most any time of the day, I’d like him to be there, sharing it with me. So the next step would be a move in, right? Wrong.
Where do my feelings come from? Well, firstly, I’ve seen numerous live-in relationships dissolve and shit gets messy. It’s like a divorce without the marriage. It’s incredibly painful and complicated; I’d say more so than if you break up with someone that you don’t live with. The possibility of a painful breakup is fairly weak reasoning for not moving in with your partner (I know you were just thinking that), so I’m going to move on to how I think living together has the potential to mess with the psyche of your relationship.
From the conversations I’ve had with advocates of the idea that you need to live with someone before marriage, they believe that when you move in together it is a trial period. You’re moving in to examine how you fit with the other person in a domestic situation. You’re looking for the flaws that will drive you nuts if you have to live with them ‘til death do you part. This means you’re always devoting some mental energy to assessing whether or not things are working. Basically, living together becomes a secondary audition (initial dating being the first) where the focus is on looking for the fatal flaws, instead of looking for ways to make it work.
And therein lies the issue; I feel like living together can breed a culture wherein at least one party is always looking for reasons it won’t work. This can then spill over into a marriage when the couple eventually decide to get married. The couple/individual is still looking to find the cracks but not focusing on ways to fix them. Shifting away from the mindset of “reasons it won’t work” to “ways to make it work” can be exceptionally difficult.
When I get married I want it to be because my partner and I are both seriously committed to making it work with each other for the rest of our lives. I don’t want to risk slipping into a mindset where we’re constantly auditioning for each other’s devotion and affection. Marriage should be a step change in a relationship. It shouldn’t just be coming home with new rings on your fingers.
I’m all for sleepovers that last for days or weeks, but I’m not going to share an address with you until we’re both ready to make a serious commitment. Half of the closet and a pledge to try me on for size isn’t going to cut it.