Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Living In Community: The Newlywed Adventure

Last summer my husband, Jeff, and I had been married a little over a year. Our current living situation was an amazing blessing - housesitting for missionaries during their one year assignment overseas. We paid only utilities, and the house was way nicer than anything we could have afforded then, or now, or probably for about 25 years. But like I said, this blessing only lasted a year, and so we started talking about what was next.

We weren't quite ready to take the plunge and buy a house. Additionally, we had been discussing with some friends various ways to live in community,
then one day Jeff and our friend Candy half-jokingly talked about the option of us renting a place with her and her current roommate, Kim, when we left the big house. Zoom to December, and my sister (who had jumped on the bandwagon) and I were looking at houses. We providentially found the perfect one: a four bedroom, two and a half bath home with a great kitchen, backyard, and neighborhood.

Now it's July, and you would not be shocked to know that we have all learned a lot about each other and living together and living with people in general. The following posts will deal with day-to-day details, logistics, recipes (cooking for lots of people can be tricky!), grocery shopping, relationship dynamics...probably I will write more from the practical perspective than the philosophical (though I do reserve the right), because there seems to be in my estimation lots of discussion out there about the 'why' of communal living, and less about the 'how'.

Now that introductions are out of the way, I would like to share a little about how our marriage has changed. I have learned about how to live with roommates and my husband, and Jeff and I have made a few changes in our relationship to adapt to our new situation:

1. We have become more intentional about daily "us" time. Although we aren't legalistic about it, we try to spend fifteen minutes or so when we get home from work in our bedroom processing our day. This practice developed from necessity after several weeks of talking as we are falling asleep and not communicating very well as a result.

2. We go on dates again. Like many other newlyweds, we had almost no discretionary money, so we would cook supper and rent a movie for a stay-at-home date. But in our new home, just like our daily time alone, we have learned to be intentional to spend longer amounts of time reconnecting. This has been lots of fun, spending time and money just on us. We'll also do needful stuff together, like grocery shopping and other errands, that we didn't do as often when we lived alone.

3. We have changed how we talk to each other. Most married folks (well, and unmarried, for that matter) understand that there are things that you can say to your spouse when you're alone that you cannot say when you are around other people. For example, I am generally receptive to Jeff's advice about clothing and such because, honestly, he has great taste. But it's much different for me in am emotional sense when we're sitting in the living room with someone else and he says, "Why don't you wear the red shirt?" Likewise, I have had to be much more conscious not to correct him or give suggestions, to which he is generally receptive, if we're around roommates.

Although some of these details may seem cumbersome or overly technical, we have approached this living in community thing as an adventure and therefore have had a very positive experience. I hope you will enjoy reading about our adventure as much as we are enjoying being on it!


Alex & Jill said...

I am so excited to read about your new life as a newlywed as well as your adventure in 'community living!' :)

Love ya, girl!

Ines said...

love to see you writing again!

Brek said...

this is AWESOME!!!! Get to typing my dear sister ;)

Ramón said...

I am very excited for this blog. Our communities in Portland are struggling through the same thing...we know we should live in community, but how do we do it?!

Thanks for being willing to share!

Rebekah said...

the practical "hows" - so needed! What a great blessing for you to be able to share with others. Maybe someday some communities can produce a "field guide" for such adventures.

southernbelle825 said...

bravo, pinto. looking forward to reading more. i'm adding this one to my feedburner.

momof3 said...

#3 is a great lesson for all married women, Rachel. Thanks for sharing that (I know there are plenty of times when I should just keep my mouth shut but would instead of "correct my hubby).

Anonymous said...

Love it!! As a single mom, I would have loved to have done this years ago, I can see so many benefits to such an arrangement. If nothing else but the adult "mental" support. Will check back often, this is awesome.