Why is it that after the newlywed glow dissipates, it becomes harder to nest? The excitement of putting away jointly owned crockery and buying that perfect rug to finish off the space in front of our newly acquired couch just so, has worn off. The mind-numbing reality of unpacking and dealing with that box that has not been opened since university days, combining household finances and changing my surname in every. single. facet. of. my. life. has set in. Combined with the stressful situation of filling for a boss who is on long term leave (both of us) and starting a new job while staying on at the old job until said boss returns (me), it really takes the shine off newlywed life.
As predicted, living together, while convenient, exciting and fun, also has its share of frustration.
The social highlight of my week used to be visiting Boy Robin and when not visiting, my housemate was my go-to partner-in-crime. It is much easier to arrange a spur of the moment trip to the ballet / gallery / new bar in the city when you live with a willing participant. Living with Boy Robin has rendered the visits obsolete and made it much more difficult to organise spur of the moment trips. While previously I used to look forward to those visits and spontaneous outings with a frisson of excitement and as an escape from the daily grind of life, my calendar does not so much consist of sparse social highlights, but a seemingly never-ending monotonous string of nights in. If it was a heart monitor, my calendar would be flat-lining and the doctor would be shaking their head sorrowfully.
Although as a consultant, Boy Robin can work at home, by the end of the week, he has driven all over town, visiting clients and talking to people non-stop. Wednesday nights he plays social sport, getting a bit of exercise and catching up with friends over beers. Come Friday evening, he is spent and wants to stay at home, especially now that the Ashes are on.
I, on the other hand, sit in front of a computer all. day. long. My work is not really conducive to talking to people. In any event, I find I have so much work to do, even if I’m having a quick natter to a colleague over lunch, in the back of my mind, my desk is calling to me. Corporate life also means that exercise has faded into the background because I just could not leave work in time to make classes and now I’m so unfit, the idea of going to class is embarrassing. Come Friday evening, I am ready to cut loose, let my hair down and all those other clichés about having a good old social time.
Can anyone spot the problem?
Written down in the clear black and white of the computer screen, it is obvious I need to get out more, swallow my pride about my physical shape and exercise, make my own social plans and generally just be a bit more of a proactive adult. Just because we’re married, it does not mean that Boy Robin must be joined at the hip.
Of course, it’s a lot easier to say that than actually doing it. When your social calendar has revolved around your S.O. and your social partner-in-crime has been your housemate for so long, to suddenly adjust and actively seek out people is a bit of a shock to the system.
Another shock to the system is that socialising post-wedding has somehow caused us to travel back in time. Putting aside the almost to be expected, but still inane “hmmm … just water at the pub … is there some news you would like to share?” comments, you would think we were suddenly transported to the 50s. On one of our rare social outings, we were at a house warming where almost everyone else in attendance were either engaged, married or married with children. And while the men congregated around the barbecue to talk about manly things, the women stayed in the kitchen to talk about … pregnancy. And childbirth. And children.
Don’t get me wrong. Boy Robin and I have talked about it extensively and we will have children in the future, God willing (although an evening of childbirth stories may have made that time later rather than sooner). What kind of reflection of society is it when a group of well educated 20 and 30 somethings, all with diverse backgrounds and interesting lives, almost unthinkingly fall into a male / female dichotomy and the female group seem to have nothing else to talk about other than pregnancy? I do not expect to solve the world’s problems through our conversation (although I am sure we could have a good crack). Surely getting married does not mean being relegated to the life of a stepford wife with no interest other than children? And surely I could have come up with a better conversation topic, rather than sitting there with my legs crossed and nothing to say?
And so, I need to flex that social planning in advance and conversation muscle. A little coffee here, a little city-tripping there, and slowly but surely, I will re-learn the art of conversation and how to make plans when the other person is not a metre away.
And I will more consciously take pleasure in time at home. Because staying at home does not have to be a flat line. There is still so much to do to make our house a home (the aforementioned unpacking a prime example). I still have not baked and there are those post-wedding thank you cards just waiting to be done, not to mention the filing … let’s not mention the filing.
Looking back over the past three months (yes it has been three months and I have not finished my thank you cards – please don’t judge me), Boy Robin and I have done quite a bit together. We do the grocery shopping together most weeks. We often have Saturday coffee at the new coffee shop next door to us and trips to the local farmer’s market (albeit for breakfast rather than grocery shopping). We have bought furniture, put it together and admired it. We cook together just about every evening, have shared glasses of wine and litres of tea. And in doing so, our nest slowly takes shape.