The problem these days, why so many, many people are single, is that no one takes relationships seriously anymore. I think popular media is to blame for this, the other day I saw a fun rom-com flick called What Happens In Vegas where two people get married when they’re drunk (duh) and then want to get divorced (duh) but (plot point!) they collectively win 3 million dollars on a slot machine and so have to stay married for six months in order to collect the money as ordered by a marriage minded judge. Of course, they begin by hating each other and then fall in love and blah blah blah and the entire movie is a pretty good showcase of how you should totally get shit faced and marry someone you just met even if you have nothing in common.
I know someone, in fact, I know many someones who believe in the fact that marriage doesn’t have to last forever. That if you don’t like it, you can leave. To which I’m all “Whaaaaaaaaat?” Really? I’m not advocating marriage here, far from it, but I believe that if you get into a commitment you should pretty much be prepared to stay in it forever. Divorce has made bad marriages too easy. And not the other way round.
Anyway, so the other day, I was thinking of the vast number of people I know preparing to move in together. Like couples. Isn’t this a big deal? Did I miss the memo that makes this about as casual as anything else? I shy away from Next Big Steps, they make me nervous, they make me wary of doing something I might not want to do and then, oh dear, nothing ever remains the same after that. Living with someone suggests to me a quasi-marriage, where you buy groceries together and entertain together and have cats. (Okay, so I already have a cat, but still.) While the whole thing is thrillingly domestic and as much fun as playing ‘House-House’ used to be, surely, like a marriage, it wears off?
Don’t get me wrong though. I would personally have to live with someone before I married them. It’s a nice, little test run to prove to yourself that you can in fact put up with someone even if you have to keep picking up their dirty underwear, or you’re okay with them seeing you first thing in the morning with dragon breath and Diana Ross hair. But somewhere along the line, I know I’ll be thinking that this should end in marriage. In a proper legal commitment. I will be doing my damndest to get my live-in relationship to work, and I’m not going to regard it as cavalierly as people around me seem to be doing.
There is a thrill to domesticity though, especially illicit domesticity. I guess it’s the whole forbidden fruit thing. We’d never have the social sanction of an actual married couple, but we’re still buying mangoes and getting the maid to dust the TV and having friends over for brunch. It’s just that we don’t have rings on our fingers, that it might have to be hidden from various extended family members and possibly, from the neighbours or the landlord. But there would still be a double bed and holidays planned together. I can’t blame people for wanting to do this ‘test run’ marriage when every word I write tempts me more and more to go out and do it myself.
But, I stand steadfastly on this. It is not casual anymore. It should last forever. Sharing a space with someone should be regarded as sacred as signing a piece of paper declaring you Mr and Mrs. I know that even my relationships with my flatmates has been sealed with this sort of sanctity. We have a good relationship, my housemates and I, because we know the code. In short, we know how to make a good live-in relationship work. Okay, yes, it is different because we have separate bedrooms and mostly, separate lives. But when someone sees you at your worst (which is more important than seeing you at your best) and still wants to go on living with you, then you have to respect that in them. My flatmates know what snacks to order for the house for instance, the ones that I love, I know how they like their coffee. When we cook, we cook for everyone. When we have our significant others over, we respect their space as well. And we think twice (and ask permission!) before we invite someone over that the others don’t like. Maybe it sounds a little anal to you. But (touch wood) so far, I’ve had excellent luck with my roomies.
Perhaps I should draft a Live-In Relationship Agreement for all the people out there contemplating it so nonchalantly. It would have Rules and Agendas. Love is important, yes, without some modicum of love you will get bored very easily, but this Agreement will have things like Space Time (no, not astronauts, just alone time for each person) and Veto Rules (where each of you has the right to veto three people from entering your home) and naturally, other mundane things like budgets and who changes the cat litter (or walks the dog) and Collective Purchases. There will also be a clause, much like the judge ruled in What Happens In Vegas, that you have to stick it out for a year, legally, or risk getting sued. It makes it tougher and it makes it easier for indecisive people like me, because everything will be right there. Yeah, I think I’m totally going to do that.