I bought my house three and a half years ago at age twenty-two. This was huge for me. When all of my friends were renting, I had a place where I could put any color I wanted on the walls, pick out new tile or flooring — and completely make my own. Through trial and error, I learned basic plumbing and electric skills.
I also learned that I am a control freak and that my younger brother, who moved in with me at the start, was an excellent roommate — possibly because he saw me as the house matriarch and went along with my controlling ways. I had three years to settle into My Way before my then-fiance/now-husband moved in.
And we learned I’m not very good at sharing my space.
After a very tense month of Mo walking on eggshells and me taking the brunt of the housework, I realized something needed to give… and that thing was me. One day when Mo was at work, I took on my bathroom and bedroom. Two large bags of clothes for donation later, he had his own drawer in the bathroom and I had moved his side of the bed away from the wall and given him a nightstand. I even moved his musical and recording equipment into the spare bedroom, turning it into a music room. When I did that, I vowed to not be bothered if those spaces, his spaces, got a little messy, and so far I’ve kept that promise.
Through giving him his own space in the house, even something as small as a drawer, I realized I expressed to him that he is a welcome member of this house.
The next weekend, I got Mo and my brother together and we reorganized the rest of the house. We went through everything, consolidated our belongings, and donated the things we had two of (or had never used). We comprised on where to rearrange the living room furniture and even bought a rug. We also divided up chores, and the house has maintained a level of clean and organization that thrills me — especially since I’m no longer doing all the work.
It’s rarely easy when one-half of a couple moves into a home that’s been established by the other half. The best way to overcome that, at least for me, was to embark on a sort of “spring cleaning” with my husband. Through giving him his own space in the house, even something as small as a drawer, I realized I expressed to him that he is a welcome member of this house. Through reorganizing the shared space, we both became more comfortable with sharing. Though I still have final say in large projects around the house, it’s become less “mine” and more “ours.” And once he realized he’s welcome here for good, he became more than happy to help out around the house. Our home, like our marriage, is a work in progress, but we’re in it together and that’s all that matters.