I shared a little in a previous post about how Jeff and I have changed our interactions while our roommates are around. Essentially, we have less private time and the changes have grown out of that. One thing that has come up a couple times is whether or not Jeff is ever home alone with another of the roomates.
My initial reaction to this question was, "Duh...YES. We live there. It happens." We do not coordinate our schedules so that he and I always leave and return at the exact same time. Could you imagine?! I guess I thought it was pretty absurd. But upon further reflection I saw the concern, caution, and maybe even apprehension in that question. And if I were totally honest, I did some serious thinking about my husband living with single women before we moved in.
The conclusion I came to was basically the conclusion that I hoped Jeff would come to for me, if we ever live with some single dudes. I trust him, his commitment to our marriage, and his ability be appropriate with our roommates. The other side of that equation, of course, is the roommates (are the roommates?), and their ability to be appropriate as well. And I trust them, too. On a personal note, jealousy has been much more of an issue for me with Jeff than it ever was in any of my other relationships. It started when we got engaged, and I think it was just, "Oh man, this one is for real. The stakes here are really high." I am still very protective of my relationship with him and I have no problem telling him when I think some chick is inappropriate or too familiar or if I just think she's crazy. And although it's never come to it, I would have absolutely no problem telling some crazy, inappropriate, and/or flirty chick what to do with herself when she's around my man. After all, the stakes are high here and I'm not messing around with immaturity. Grow up and act like a woman.
Okay. I'm getting a little fired up. I need to take a few deep breaths...alright, I'm calm again. Some guidelines for you from our experience:
1. Don't feel bad about being married. Although our roommates have always been gracious, let's face it - some single people are bitter. Let them be. God gave you this spouse and he/she is your priority now. If you live with someone, or are close friends with someone who can't handle that, it's their problem to fix, not yours. (I should also say, I was 28 when we got married and I know what it feels like to be aging with no real prospects. It was scary sometimes. At the same time, by the grace of God I never resented others for finding happiness in marriage.)
2. Don't be lovey-dovey around your single roommates. Have some decorum and help them feel comfortable with the two of you as a unit.
3. Take all the private time you need to make sure you stay connected primarily to each other, and to everyone else after that. Jeff and I are both huge extroverts, so we naturally want to be where the party is at all times. We have to be intentional about time just with each other. And we are always so happy that we do.
4. Keep your relationship private. Don't gripe, don't discuss disagreements, and don't say something about your spouse that you wouldn't say in front of your spouse.
5. Stand by your man, or woman. While Tammy Wynette's song with this title is a little troubling with its allusion to excusing extramarital affairs, when I overlook that part of the song, I see an exhortation to be loyal and be a cheerleader. And everyone needs a cheerleader sometimes. Be a cheerleader in private, and if you really want to make him/her feel special, be a cheerleader when other people can hear you.
By God's grace, it has been really easy for us to live with these ladies and that is due in large part to their ability to respect our boundaries and just generally be "okay" with us as a couple. It's a fabulous blessing to have such wonderful folks in our lives.