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Marriage Adjustments

Speaking of marriage, Darwin and I are adjusting to married life.  It's going fairly smoothly, I think.  We've had a few arguments, one of which kept us up until well after midnight on a work night, but we've managed to work things out.

This is a much bigger adjustment for Darwin than for me.  When he met me, Darwin had been living on his own for several years.  He had fallen out of the habits of sharing objects and space, reporting in to other people what he was doing, and dealing with other people in his living space.  He lived the stereotypical bachelor lifestyle, with an empty fridge and dinners at a local diner and coming home whenever he pleased and making or breaking plans at the last minute.  Suddenly all that went out the window!

I had to . . . train him in married life.  (Darwin had had a long-term partner before me, but the interim bachelor gap had wiped out his coping skills!)  Because his work hours vary and mine don't, he had to get into the habit of calling me before he left his office so I'd know when to expect him home.  It was difficult for him to figure out how to share a living room and a bathroom.  He withdrew from the kitchen almost entirely, leaving it my domain, partly because he never learned to cook and has no interest in it and partly because his preference is to eat out instead of cooking.  I wouldn't allow the latter on the grounds that eating out is time-consuming and expensive.  It took some work to get him to make plans in advance so I could work them into my and the boys' schedules.

And I had to adjust, too.  I had a firm rule against going out for meals because after I got divorced, I had no money and eating out cost too much.  Twice per week we had leftovers night, partly to clear out the fridge, but mostly to save on the grocery bill.  But to Darwin, going out to eat is not just a meal, it's recreation.  To him, the food is actually secondary.  So I learned to let us eat out more and not to cringe when it came time to pay the bill.

Post-divorce, I ran another firm rule: suppertime was family time for everyone.  This was mostly to foster a sense of family unity after the divorce shook everyone up.  But after Darwin and I got married, I discovered this wasn't always feasible.  Darwin can't always leave work at the same time.  And even if he leaves right at 5:00, he doesn't get home until 6:00.  Most days, he doesn't get home until after 7:00.  Meanwhile, the boys and I get home from work and school by 3:30.  We had lunch at 11:00, and by 5:00 we're all starving.  It's an ordeal to hold supper until Darwin gets home.  So in the end, we decided I would make supper at the usual time for us and Darwin would join us if he could.

The hardest time was finances.  Ohhh, we went round and round on this.  I hate banks and won't do business with them.  Darwin, however, liked his bank and didn't want to leave it.  For the year we lived together, we transferred money back and forth between his bank and my credit union to pay the bills, but there was always a delay of three or four days.  We paid bills primarily from my account, and sometimes my poor account was left gasping while it waited for Darwin's transfers to arrive.  This couldn't continue; we needed to combine our finances into single account.  But where?

The other problem was the actual handling.  We're both freaks at watching our money.  Darwin is because it's in his nature--his job requires it, in fact.  I am because of the financial problems that rose up before and after the divorce forced me to budget every dollar.  I habitually checked my accounts on-line five and six times a week.  The thought of letting someone else handle the money bothered me enormously.  Darwin felt the same way.

In the end, we finally decided that we would combine our finances at my credit union and Darwin would handle most of the household finances.  I, however, still watch everything from behind the throne, as it were.

The cool thing?  This is exactly the kind of thing opposite-sex couples have to deal with, too.


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( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 15th, 2015 01:04 am (UTC)
Yep, we do.

I prefer dinner time for check-in time, but Sunday breakfast works, too. Especially if there are waffles. Especially if the waffles are made by someone other than me, the usual cook. This is an excellent way to introduce a non-cook to the preparation of something everyone praises.

When we lived in France, one of us did not get home until 7 pm and the kids couldn't wait that long. So the kids and I had tea (with goodies) to tide us over.

S/he who cooks does not wash dishes. Dishes must be done every night. It's amazing how this motivates the learning of cooking.

We each have our own separate money, plus a household account. We don't necessarily have to contribute the same amount to the household account, depending on who is being paid how much. There is an unstated assumption that all work is valuable, including house cleaning, animal care, child supervision, and all the other unpaid stuff. The accounts don't have to be in the same place, although now they're all at our tiny local community bank for convenience.

Edited at 2015-12-15 01:05 am (UTC)
Dec. 15th, 2015 04:48 pm (UTC)
We looked long and hard at three accounts--one for me, one for Darwin, one for the household--and ultimately decided it would be too complicated for us. I know a lot of couples who do it that way, though. And he who cooks definitely washes no dishes! :)
Dec. 15th, 2015 06:01 pm (UTC)
Great minds work alike!

Yes, it can get complicated, especially if one partner is comfortable with balancing statements and the other isn't.

When funds were tight, we went to a system where all writing income goes into the business account, I pay those bills and transfer money to the household account as needed, and then personal allowances (right now, all of $20/person/month) come out of the household account. Dave hates banking stuff, so he handles his in cash. But he also doesn't have day jobbe expenses, so that's not unreasonable.
Dec. 16th, 2015 06:46 am (UTC)
regarding going out -- I hear you. The Hubby went through a long phase where it seemed he couldn't feel full until he spent money on food that someone else prepared. This was after The Evil Ex had me max out a credit card in two weeks of eating out every day. Oh, the drama. So glad our marriage survived that. Now I just need to get him used to the idea that I am happier staying home than going out on my nights off.
Dec. 17th, 2015 04:22 pm (UTC)
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