A few months ago it became absurdly clear how silly it was that we each were sustaining entire households by ourselves. Not that one of us has even begun to stay with the other so much (he never stays at my place and I've only recently been staying the nights with him when I am kid-free. We each pay the same landscaper, the same HOA fees, the same APS bill, the same city for the same trash, the same water company... He pays for cable and I don't. But I pay for Netflix and Amazon and he's welcome to hook us up with cable if he wants.
There was talk a while ago about making this transition right around our year-anniversary (next month in August.) But it's coming up rather fast and there are tons of plans otherwise.
It's interesting to be in your 40's and dating someone whom you can clearly see far off in the future with. But when it comes trying to decide whose house to move into, neither of you have any real desire to move to the other. We are not in a position at this moment to sell both houses and go get our own, but we will in the future for sure. There are two complete households. One has 3 kids, the other has 2 dogs, all of whom have to be accommodated. The house with the dogs has fewer rooms, and the house with the kids has the detested stairs and no carpet downstairs to lay on. His bed is too soft for me. Mine is too firm for him. I love my bedroom set but have to go get him his own nightstand since one of them went off with the ex. He has a TV in his bedroom and it is on while he falls asleep. A timer turns it off and he turns it right back on the moment he wakes up. Many of you know me well enough to know that this is a big F'ing HELL NO! No TV in the bedroom at all! And if you are going to go to sleep why not just turn it off?! Why do you have to go through the trouble of setting a timer so it will go off in 20 minutes?!
He is a night-owl who believes the best sleep occurs between 4 and 9 in the morning. I wake up with the sun - usually a bit before - and am useless by 10PM *if* I can stay awake that late.
"Please don't tell me it's 6:00AM."
"OK, I won't. It's 5:30. Wanna ride to the Grand Canyon? I made you fresh scones. I've done three loads of laundry, finished a manuscript, and am waiting on an Amazon Prime delivery."
These are the times he has actively wants to strangle me.
If I stay at his place and wake up normally, I can walk across the street and start my day. He has yet to experience a Team Dean morning. Although he did spend the night Christmas Eve to help me with the kids Christmas morning. When my daughter was heard downstairs at 4:30AM he told her it was too early and to go back to bed. It was precious in a way: him thinking he could tell a 6yo girl to go back to bed Christmas morning when she had already been through every stocking and neatly separated and piled the presents for each kid.
But deeper than the logistics, the fear of one of us sacrificing a great deal to move in with the other, the disinterest in the discomfort that would come from trying to combine two households that include dogs with a non-dog person and three kids with a man who consciously chose to never have children of his own... is simply not something either of us are jumping at.
Soon after we met I asked if we could never get married. I was sure with two ex-wives behind him he would be thrilled to agree with me. Nope, he immediately explained that he loves the concept of marriage and wants the experience he sees so sweetly and genuinely in his own parents who celebrate their 52nd wedding anniversary this year. I was crushed.
If money were no object I have no doubt we would keep both houses and continue on exactly as we have. Or build a bridge over the street, or buy out one of the neighbors directly next door. But realistically, it makes no sense.
It's been this thing that we have sort of touched on from time to time, but neither of us really deciding anything. Just yesterday, it came up again and I asked more directly, "Would you like to come join Team Dean?"
He got serious. "I will never be a member of Team Dean. I will never have that name added to mine." Pause. "Do you want me to move in?" he asked.
And then it hit me (notice that happens a lot?): neither of us actually asked the other to move in. And when he asked, "do you want me to move in" I felt fear begin to strangle my neck a little. (It does that. I have a throat thing, I swear.)
As the day went on I kept thinking about how I had really not asked him to move in. And why would I when the concept is so terrifying?!?! However, by the end of the day I said to him, "I would like you to move in with us. I will accommodate you and your doggies as much as I can. I will put carpet in the living room so they have comfy sleep spots. I will give you as much room as you need to bring the stuff you want (even though, let's face, most of that shit better not even enter the street, it's going to Goodwill, dammit! The Kung Fu master is going to have the most epic garage sale! Who needs THREE motorcycles and a gazillion punching bags?! And 2456 back issues of Kung Fu magazine!)
I recognized that I had not actually asked him to move in because that would open me up to the terror of rejection and major discomfort as we go about the task of combining households and integrating him into the family that has been me and the kids (and the polyamorous whore of a cat, Cupcake.) But the thought brings up just the right amount and kind of fear that indicates this is the next step. This is our next frontier of growth.
He has his issues too about this. And the only part about the kids that scares him is finding his place with them. But it isn't that he doesn't like kids or can't stand to be around them, he simply knew that in the relationships he has been in he has never wanted to have children with them. And now we are just way too old and selfish to want to have one of our own.
His fear lies in having been in a marriage to a woman who made gobs and gobs of money and used it as just one of her manipulation tools: he had no say in anything, ever, no matter what. When he finally divorced that one, he landed in a long term relationship with another version of his ex-wife. He heard, "Get out of my house!" more than once. And his fear is that he will hear it again.
Intimacy has been defined to me as risk and trust, over and over. Slow and steady over time. I have never felt more intimacy with another human being in my life. And at almost a year, it's finally starting to feel normal and comfortable, as opposed to disaster-waiting-to-happen, or "this could end at any moment so just drive him away now."
The risk of moving in together is a big one for each of us. The trust is in knowing we are both dedicated enough to figure it out. Who knows, this could very well be the easiest step I've ever taken. Why do I assume it will be the biggest, craziest, most horrific experience of our entire relationship? Oh right, because that's what I'm conditioned to expect: disaster.
Luckily, I'm working on that one.