real life

'10 living-together lessons I've learned the hard way.'

Ashe and her boyfriend

by ASHE DAVENPORT

After a false start in ‘11 my boyfriend and I have settled back into de facto bliss…. Two bedrooms, a tomato vine with actual tomatoes growing on it, parking permit, a motley crew of 30 hand me down towels (thanks mum) and enough cupboard space to store the entire range at Greensborough Savers.Truth be told it’s a small slice of heaven.

But I’m curious as to why it’s working out for us this time round and not the last – a fateful 12-month lease in Carlton North that ended in segregated book boxes and broken dreams. Not to mention a lengthy solo mission to Berlin on my boyfriend’s part. But like a couple of lovesick Adélie penguins we found our way back to the nest. And are currently feeling our way through round two, armed with better communication skills and slightly nicer crockery.

I’m a huge fan of living with partners. It’s the greatest. Tough at times but mostly just one long pyjama party giggle fest. Here’s what I’ve learned so far…

1. Make it your own.

Any good love shack worth its bath of rose petals looks and feels like the people in it. Blend your parents’ life saving furniture donations with stuff you’re both really into. Try and keep an open mind when it comes to clashes in taste – although it’s perfectly okay to suggest his collection of glass-framed insects be displayed in the spare room.

2. Keep IKEA trips to a minimum.

Make your own love nest.

3. Break the rules

Hang out your laundry in the dining room. Make a bed of pillows and blankets on the living room floor. Make love in the kitchen. Sleep in the garden. Riverdance down the hallway. You get the picture. Free yourself from the confined courtesies of share house living and tap into the anarchy of your new private playground paradise.

4. Cook

As a recent convert to the world of buying fresh produce and cooking stuff with it, I can safely tell all you stoveaphobes out there the water is fiiiiiine. Do it together, for each other, whatever! It feels fruit salad kind of wholesome.

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5. Have friends over

With all those living room floor nests and fridges full of meat & veg, it’s easy to forget about the outside world. However this is a one-way ticket to co-dependent creepville. Keep it healthy with a steady flow of social activity through your shack’s front door.

6. Find your other couple

Discover the Fred and Ethel to your Lucy and Ricky, the Rubble to your Flinstone. Double dates are the biz. Find a couple who speak your language and put in the time. Because fourway holidays and movie nights are FUN.

7. Break the sex-chedule

Anyone who works full time knows that Saturday mornings were invented for sex. But if you find yourself in a repetitive routine rut try busting some moves mid-week. Too tired? TIP: Go to bed earlier instead of watching that third episode of Parks and Recreation.

Get yourself a luxury treehouse. This one will do.

8. Build a luxury tree house that’s yours alone

Failing that, find one metaphorically in your heart. Failing that, claim a room or nook in the house that’s just yours. While you’re sharing a bed, bedroom, wardrobe space and car key, it’s important to stake out your own territory from time to time.

9. Boundaries

Pee with the door open, close for everything else.

10. Be your own person

Relationships in general are a soft-shoe shuffle between exercising your independence and being joined at the hip to another person – a dance which only intensifies when you live together. My advice? Hang onto a keen sense of who you are as an individual… And make sure you’ve got some cool shit going on outside the love nest.

Ashe Davenport is a Melbourne based writer and dedicated student at the school of Beyoncé’s dance moves. For more of her tic tacs of wisdom head to http://streisandsuperman.tumblr.com/ and follow her on twitter here.

Do you have any advice on how to make live-in relationships work? Would you try any of these tips?

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