16 April 2010

The Three Month Agony

I recently gave a friend moving in with her fiance the same advice I give everyone in that situation: the first few months are wonderful, then just push through the next three months. The love of your life will turn into everything you hate, then he or she will turn into everything you didn’t know you hated. Then, somehow, it passes.

B and I have lived together a long time. Even before we officially moved in together, one of us spent most nights at the other’s place. It wasn’t until both of our names were on the lease that we experienced the Three Month Agony. This is the period a few months after you’ve consolidated furnishings and CDs - a few months after the ga-ga-we’re-so-happy phase. It usually lasts about three months (I am basing this on elaborate sociological studies of friends and friends of friends).

All of a sudden you bicker about everything: socks on the floor, open tooth-paste caps, unmade beds, loud nose blowing, shoe piles, how the towels need to be folded, which direction the mugs should face… When did I become the fucking maid? When did he turn into a fog horn? Why the hell didn’t you get chopped walnuts, you should have known? You clearly don’t care about me. Some of these are our examples, some from friends; but they are all real examples.

Little habits and idiosyncrasies start looking like insurmountable cliffs. It all starts to feel like a colossal mistake. This is no longer a roommate. You can’t simply close the door to your room, shutting out the housemates. Your space suddenly gets smaller, much much smaller. And, because you’ve been in a little love cocoon, you’re only now suffering the lingering effects of too little alone time. It’s even worse when two introverts move in together.

And then, it passes. The trick is to push through it.** Part of it is settling into routines as a couple, tackling problems as partners. But, I think most of it is taking some time for yourself, alone, without feeling guilty. Do something you love, alone.

I require a lot of alone time. Without it everyone gets on my nerves from the kid screaming in the grocery store (let's be honest, everyone wants to smack that kid) to the guy chewing too loudly at the next table; I get crabby, and I overreact at the slightest offense. It took me a while to truly figure out that all I needed was some time alone. Now I take my time, no apologies. I’m happier; we’re happier.

**Assuming you actually want the relationship to work, that there are good reasons to continue a life with this newly uncaring, fog horning, shoe pilling, sock throwing person.
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