Living with Another Person: It's All About Adjusting

in Home-family

One of the biggest adjustments most of us have to make is living with another person. It is very different from a dating relationship where each partner retains his or her own living space. Relationship and marriage books will tell you that the together time is great. They tend to gloss over the flip side: too much together time may make for a rocky journey.  Learning to adjust to the new reality of a full time, living together relationship is work. Here are three basic areas you must face to have a chance at making it work.
 Shared Interests

You have some, don't you? If not, now would be a good time to step away from the computer and find a counselor. Seriously, anyone in a relationship of any length must have some interests and likes in common. Being together gives you and the other person the chance to spend more time doing them together. Notice I used the word chance. This won't happen just because you are together. It will only happen if the two of you really work to make it happen. Cooking a meal together, taking a hike or a bike ride through a pretty park, watching every Cary Grant Movie ever know what those shared interest are. Make a real effort to include them in your day on a regular basis.

Here is something many of us forget about shared interests: you may have a shared interest you don't know about yet. Obviously the other person has done things without you, and vice versa They might be fun and exciting and enjoyable if you tried them together. That will require you to step out of your comfort and control mode for a while.  Each of you agrees to try an interest of the other person for a set period of time. If it doesn't work, drop it and try something else. You just might discover something you love and don't know how you got along without it before.

Complementary Interests

This doesn't mean telling the other person how good they look today, though that isn't a bad thing to say. I'm referring to combining interests that compliment each other. For example, I like to take photographs. I have a decent eye for composition. But, I do not have the patience to edit each photo for color balance, sharpness, raster layers (whatever those are), perspective, and so on. Lucky for me and her, my wife loves that kind of work and is very good at it. She likes taking photos too, but secretly I think it is just so she can edit them.
I will have ideas for a house project or decoration change. If she agrees my wife implements them. I don't like to pick up a paint brush or level or an electric drill. She, on the other hand,  wants them for a present. In fact, Home Depot has a special parking space for her. Our skills compliment each other and allow us to complete a project or develop a hobby that neither one of us could tackle as well individually.

Private Time and Space

No matter how well you make the above suggestions work for you, this last point is not last in terms of importance. You may be a saint. You may be the kindest, most considerate person alive. You may look stunning in a ratty T-shirt and gym shorts. But, no one wants to be with you 24/7.

Each of us must have a period when we are alone. We must be able to simply "be" without having to respond or comment or decide. We must have time alone to become involved with interests and activities that we don't share with another. The trick is to make it clear you are not avoiding the other person because he or she irritates you or you simply want to get away. Both of you must discuss boundaries of duties and time so each of you protects what is important to the other person.

For some this is a hard message to accept. If your spouse or best friend or family member makes it clear they need private time, you must accept that request graciously and with full support. Understand that all of us have a very real need to our own thoughts and space.
Successful relationships that involve sharing a life don't just happen. Both partners must want it enough to give up something that is important to them, but not at the cost of a happy and stable relationship.

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Bob Lowry has 2 articles online and 1 fans

Bob Lowry blogs at While focused on those who are retired or thinking about it, Bob also provides actionable guidance on relationships, finances, and creativity for anyone.

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Living with Another Person: It's All About Adjusting

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Living with Another Person: It's All About Adjusting

This article was published on 2010/12/28