Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sharing Your Life

If you are sleeping together, birth control and disease prevention are both of your responsibility. It’s not just up to her to use birth control. And if you *know* you don’t ever want to have children, get a vasectomy.

As you begin to spend more and more time together, you will become aware of the assumptions that you make about life that you didn’t even realize you were making. You will realize you make these assumptions because she will do something that violates your assumption, or rule, about how things are done in life. She’ll drip on your bathmat. You believe in completely drying off before stepping out of the shower. She believes that the purpose of a bathmat is to drip on it. It may never have even occurred to you that someone could think that way. She’ll talk about money and how much she makes and how she invests it. You will feel uncomfortable because you were taught, and still believe, that it’s tacky to discuss finances. But there are other ideas, legitimate ideas besides your own about how and when to talk about money. No one you date will have grown up with the same rules as you. (Unless you date your sister.)

Despite the fact that you think you have grown up and away from the ways your parents did things, you are very influenced by what was modeled to you growing up. Right now, list ten “rules” that you were taught growing up in your household from the superficial to the serious. Not the explicit rules, but the tacit rules that everyone abided by. Such as ‘The only emotion that is okay to express is anger’ or ‘What someone asks you to do, you do’ or ‘Leave the toilet seat and lid down when not in use,’ etc. Some of these rules when made explicit sound ridiculous or wrong or merely subjective. But you may still find yourself uncomfortable when they are broken. The longer you’re in an intimate relationship, the more you will understand that there is no “right” way to do things, and that compromise will be the rule of the day. Simply being conscious of these “rules” will help you be less rigid about them.

You will also discover as you spend more and more time together that she has some really annoying habits. So do you. You have to make a judgment call about what you bring up and what you choose to tolerate. In the next few posts, I’ll discuss conflict and how to fight.

The Least You Can Do:

Practice sharing space with someone. If you don’t have a roommate, invite an out of town guest to stay, or stay with them.

List your life “rules.” Make your assumptions explicit, from ‘Mom will pick up if I don’t’ to ‘Ordering dessert at a restaurant is a waste of money.’

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