The amazing story of two 40-something women on the path to matrimonial bliss

It just keeps getting better...

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Collaborative "Home" Making

While Teri and I sometimes joke about how we can't possibly be the only two women to ever get married, we actually have friends who are also getting married this year. It is absolutely wonderful to be able to commiserate, compare and contrast with two other women our age who are in a similar place with their relationship (although they are having their ceremony in June so they have a 2-month jump-start on us!) Over dinner last night, the four of us had the chance to talk about the process of moving in together and making a joint home after years of independence. Teri and I have a tendency to be quite honest with people who ask us about our moving in together: it was incredibly hard!

Our friends have not yet moved in together, but they are just beginning the process.  Teri and I have reached a comfortable, settled place in our co-habitation but the trials, stresses, tears and struggles of our coming together are still fresh enough in our collective memory to make them easy to dredge up.

When Teri and I decided to look for a home together, LIFE was in a particularly heavy, transitional place anyway.  My dad had just died suddenly and the last of my children were moving out.  I was ready to downsize from three bedrooms, two bathrooms and two stories, but in such a tumultuous state of grief that every change seemed to accentuate the feeling of loss.  We found the little bungalow on Willow and knew immediately it was perfect for us--but that was the easiest joint decision we made in the entire moving-in process!

Looking back and sharing our story, we were able to laugh at power struggles over which art went on the walls and how reactionary we both felt over everything from tablecloths to salt and pepper shakers.  There were some choices we made during that process, however, that we are incredibly happy we made:  As two cooks attempting to share a kitchen, we decided that we would not attempt to purge and sort when we first set-up the joint space--it was just too emotional.  Instead, we put all our combined dishes, pots and measuring cups into the kitchen and tabled the sorting process for months.  It was about 8 months into living together that we were able to calmly sift and downsize AFTER we'd gotten used to sharing the space and supplies.  As bakers, we still each have our own favorite rolling pins and measuring spoons, but there has been much more overlap. Now we are making joint purchases and confidently comfortable that we can share things!

Any adult who has been through a divorce or break-up knows that it can be so challenging to even consider the sharing, compromise and collaboration that comes with partnering again.  We start to think of ourselves in some concrete ways when we are single--even if we are raising kids.  We learn our preferences and get used to making choices and decisions based on what feels good and works best for us.  Genuine partnering means figuring out where our true boundaries and needs are and what has simply become habit. 

For Teri and I, we took it slow--we tried to pay attention to where our resistances were and to back off and reconsider when things got too painful. What I remember clearly is that we both kept reminding ourselves that we WANTED to get through it together.  We were determined that our first home would be OUR home and not all Kori or all Teri--we plodded through the painful process in order to create a truly combined, shared haven that is our home together.

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