It’s his job. Taking out the garbage. He does it well. If not each night, then at least 3-4 times a week. He might ask me to open the main door for him – but that’s only because his hands are full of garbage bags that he’s collected from all the rooms in the apartment. I take out the garbage only when he’s not home.
I do most of the laundry because he is slow on the uptake about separating the whites from the colored garments and has difficult figuring out which of my garments are the delicate ones that need special treatment in the washing machine. He launders his own garments for the most part and I do mine, separately. This works because most of his garments are black and mine are on the lighter side – so washing them together isn’t a good idea anyway.
We’re both lazy about folding the dry garments and sometimes these pile on the couches in the living room till someone – friend or family – threatens to drop in home. Then he picks up his and I pick up mine and we fold and put them away. He is the one responsible for drying the sheets and curtains because my weak, tiny arms cannot handle the weight or the dimensions of the large sheets. I have learned to ask him to help me around the house.
He’s the one responsible for cleaning the apartment using the vacuum cleaner. He vacuums all the rooms, the carpet, the laptops and desktops, the couches and the bed. I don’t touch that stuff because he seems to enjoy doing it more than I ever will. Also, I do the “pocha”. We have this GALA stick with a foam at the bottom, which I use to wet-wipe the floor of the apartment whenever I feel like I can’t walk barefoot anymore because of the dust. The balconies are dirty though – pigeon shit and layers of dust – because we don’t use them. The doors are almost always closed. We have two air-purifiers in the apartment, opening the balcony doors would negate any positive effect of those. The boy ordered both purifiers after considerable research.
He also bought me a microphone – for my podcast. I didn’t even know I needed one and now I can’t imagine going back to recording audio without this microphone – the voice is clearer and easier to listen to on headphones. And the bluetooth JBL Charge 2+ speaker he also got for me after my older speakers died. I don’t love music as much as he does but I do enjoy it immensely from time to time. And I guess he couldn’t imagine not having good speakers to listen to my music on. So there they were.
I’ve had to teach myself how to ask for help without feeling like my ego is dead. It’s just how we’re brought up. “Do everything yourself. Don’t depend on anyone else.” I never learned how to delegate. It was honourable to carry around the “martyr” complex. Living with the boy has taught me that I don’t need to be a martyr to be considered a valuable half of this couple.
There have been many times when I was taking care of most of the bills. And this has been the hardest to wrap our heads around. The boy can make as much money in a month as I can make in three, if he sails. But neither of us wants him to. Push back from both our parents has been tough. “He’s supposed to provide!” But why? Where’s the rule book? ( This is probably a subject for a whole another blog post. ) Sometimes I run out of money and have to ask him to pay the rent. It took me a LONG time to be ok with this. I just could not get myself to ask him without resenting him as well. And resenting myself. I’m ok with it now – not completely – I’d still prefer to take care of myself AND him all by myself.
My relationship with money is no longer toxic. And again, I have him to thank for that change.
We don’t have a joint account. *shudder*
Because we’re not Siamese twins – even for Siamese twins I don’t advise a joint bank account. He is a separate individual, as am I. And I have a wonderful CA who is great at managing all the back and forth money transfers from the boy’s account to mine and from my account to the boy’s.
The boy lifts and moves all the heavy stuff. Well because have you seen how strong he is?! When I try to move a particular piece of furniture, it moves a millimeter. When the boy does it, it gets to where I want it to be in one shove. A no-brainer to let him do it.
He’s also, slowly, taking on the responsibility for my fitness / health. I know I should be responsible for it, all by myself, but he knows about this a whole lot more than I ever will. He’s more interested in health and fitness than I have ever been or ever will be. Easier to let him tell me what to do – whether it is taking supplements or him being my trainer. It wasn’t easy for me to allow him to tell me what to do though.
He is the chef. He cooks. I hate cooking as a chore. There are maybe two things in total that I love cooking. I can cook pretty much anything Indian of course but I think I have better uses of my time. The boy, on the other hand, can cook anything non-Indian pretty well. We’d be fine if I didn’t step into the kitchen even once. He hands me breakfast pretty much each morning. He’s the one who does the dishes for the most part. Sometimes I do a few – to feel less guilty. But if he wants to eat something, he can either order it or cook it himself. Cooking for him is a rare indulgence for me – a french toast sometimes ( we don’t eat bread regularly ) or my caramelized onion mutton curry ( maybe once in six months ).
I prefer ordering salads instead of investing time in driving to my grocery shop of choice ( paying for parking ), spending time shopping the groceries, driving back, spending time washing the produce, waiting for it to dry, storing it properly in the refrigerator and also then spending time chopping / cooking it. And most of the time, all this rots in the refrigerator because we end up traveling out of town so much.
We don’t own a television, so we watch NetFlix together sometimes. If there’s a series on that we both like, then we spend some meal times buried in bean bags, sitting side by side, eating and watching. Sometimes I’ll play a song that he likes as well and I’ll suddenly find him standing next to my work desk, trying to dance. I do this more than he does though. I’ll chance upon a song I like in my crazy, un-ordered music playlists, and I’ll go burst through his room’s door and force him to stand up and shake his butt alongside mine.
We had hired a “housemaid” in the early months of our marriage but it turned out only I could handle their nonsense and we decided to manage the apartment on our own. We haven’t had a house maid for the last six years and I love our privacy and some house chores are great stress-busters.
It took me a long time to start trusting him with joint decisions because I grew up believing that men can’t run households and it’s better to be in control and do everything myself rather than let him do anything and then regret his half-assed attempt.
Living with the boy has forced me to learn how to “let go” and that it’s ok if there’s a bit of dust – no one died. At the same time, I don’t ever have to worry about him “living like a boy” because that’s one stereotype he smashes – his stuff is almost always better organized than mine.
There was no doubt in either of our minds that we would live away from our parents when we got married. We didn’t even want to get married in the first place. It’s just a piece of paper. The main thing was that we wanted to be with eachother. And no piece of paper was going to make a difference to that. We had an insanely tough first six months. And the first 3-4 years were spent doing a lot of “late night chats”. I did most of the talking.
After seven years of living together, we’ve reached a comfortable level of co-existence. I’ve never felt more in love with him. Yes. NOW. More than ever before!
I drive the car. He makes sure we’re entertained during the drive – bluetooth speaker with podcast. Or he insists we get a cab – because a four hour drive might not be worth it. He rides his bike – he got rid of the pillion rider’s seat – I’ve only ever sat on it once. It’s been a point of contention but not something I’m willing to go on war for – yet. When I was in my late twenties, after my divorce, I’ve been a pillion rider on dangerous motorcycles, being driven at 200kmph on the Faridabad highway. Hot and fast boys too. But this boy doesn’t ride that fast. So what would be the point of the pillion seat anyway?
He is the only person I know who has treated me as an equal. I resented him for it initially because my notions of equality still clung to some “special” treatment I needed as a woman. Also, his style of communicating – in those days – wasn’t something I expected. He talks straight, whereas I’m used to beating about the bush. Straight talk – especially around the emotional subject of “love”, was very hard for me to adjust to. After seven years, I prefer it now. I’ve started using it in all my relationships – with friends and family. I’ve learned how to ask for exactly what I want. The conditioning I received, growing up as a girl in India, taught me the exact opposite. The unlearning and re-learning has been painful for me and I’ve made it painful for the boy too on numerous occasions. But we do it for each other. We help each other. We grow together.
This is the happiest I have ever been in my entire life so far. We have issues of course – I don’t think I’d be this comfortable with someone if we had no issues at all. I still have trouble with how I feel about money and that I spend way too much time working. He’s still not entirely on the path to building his career as a writer. I push him but I don’t want him to think I’m being a nag. He’s an adult and he should figure it out on his own – for himself rather than for my sake.
He started me on the path of quitting cigarettes. On drinking coffee in moderation. On looking at fitness more than weight loss. On eating healthy. On sleeping better. Ironically, he’s the one who also started me on the path of writing more – ironically because he’s the one who should be writing more than I do!
He has his set of friends. I have mine. I don’t get along with most of his friends though because they’re his childhood friends and I make friends more on the basis of who can make me a better person – and generally childhood friends don’t cut it. He gets along like a house on fire with most of my friends. We hang out with our sets of friends independently, we don’t attend weddings and I don’t attend any religious rituals, regardless of whose family has sent in the invitation.
We talk everything out. We are comfortable displaying our displeasure but it’s never with each other – it’s always with something we did or said. We direct our displeasure toward the behaviour rather than the person. This is easier to do when both of us are aware that we’re both open to – in fact KEEN on – learning and growing together.
I spent most of my teens and all of my twenties looking for love and stumbling over what I thought was love and a multitude of heartbreaks. Had I known then that this kind of relationship was possible, I’d have been much less heartbroken!
There might even be one you’d consider “better” than the one I’ve described above – in brief – but I’d urge you not to make that comparison because such comparisons can spell “DOOM” to a relationship. Make it work. If you can’t or if your partner refuses to make it work, find a way to walk away. It might be extremely painful in the short run but you WILL NOT regret it in the long run and will be much happier and content. And maybe, the next one you find, will be the one you’re most comfortable attempting a life with.
( Happy anniversary love. The “paper” still doesn’t mean anything – except if we divorce – then it’ll help in the divorce settlement. One hopes it doesn’t come to that – but one also knows that if it does ever come to that, we’ll be fine and that we will find it in ourselves to even remain friends. Nothing I write will ever comprehensively do justice to who we are together, so you’ll have to forgive me for the bazillions of emissions. You’ll always be my friend and roommate first. Imma always kick your ass and invite you to kick mine ass as well. SMOOCH. )