Does “Home For the Holidays” Mean Yours, Mine or Ours?

I wasn’t sure what the boyfriend was thinking with regard to what we were going to do about celebrating Thanksgiving this year. I have been to some of his family events and was welcomed warmly, yet I wasn’t sure how they were about holidays. Plus, our hometowns are in neighboring states, and I uncertain how things could work logistically.

Navigating the holidays as a couple can make an already stressful time of year even more challenging for a relationship. This may be because it is often the first time family meets your sweetie; is everyone going to get along? But before you even reach that point, you have to make that big decision as couple: At whose place will we be spending the holidays…

Yours, Mine or Ours?

Read my full piece: Navigating the Holidays as a Couple for Singles Warehouse.

Caution Ahead: Putting on the Relationship Brakes

Today, I had an incredible interview that flowed like a great conversation with someone who I felt could be a great friend under different circumstances. It was one of the best job opportunities I’ve seen for myself in a long time. The actual work description is right up my alley, I’d be in charge of my own multimedia content, the pay and benefits are very strong, I would get some cool technology perks as soon as I got the job, and best of all, I can work from my own home writing about the community I know like the back of my hand.

There was only one small hiccup. Lately, Mr. E has been talking more and more about wanting me to live with him. Before his children left back for Germany Saturday, they’d been talking about how they’d be excited if I would be moved in by the time they come back next summer.  It gave them comfort to think of their father with the woman they’d also grown to love; the girl liked to think of me as a “big sister”, the boy thought of me as sort of an “American mom.”

The last six weeks I’ve spent a lot of my time with them at the house, and until yesterday it had been 10 days since I’d last set foot in my own home. It honestly felt really good. It was cozy having my boyfriend to snuggle with, the kids to play with, to take road trips and go on adventures with, and almost feel like I was beginning my own family at last.

Yet I missed the comforts of my own home. I missed writing and playing music. I missed privacy. I missed the “independence” of getting around where I wanted when I wanted (albeit with a parental chauffer). I missed food other than corn dogs, box macaroni and cheese, and tater tots, and not having to cook all the time when I wanted an alternative. I missed talking with my friends when I wanted, playing with my own niece and nephew, bonding with my folks, and snuggling with my cat. So while living at this house in a town forty minutes away felt comfortable and homey, it really wasn’t my home.

Now that the children have gone back to their home in Germany, Mr. E. goes back to 12-hour workdays. Living in his home, working from his home would be quite a lonely experience when I am not allowed to drive for health reasons, where the main parts of town are not easy walking distance, and where I know practically no one. At home, my mother works from home and my dad spends most of the time at the house. When there are medical emergencies, errands to run, appointments to get to, I am not up a creek and I have people I can count on. I still have quite a few local friends, and I know a ridiculous number of people in the community—there a friendly, familiar faces everywhere.

This dream job that I’m pondering and pursuing fuels off that presence in the community. This dream job also requires non-traditional hours like attending night meetings or going to events on the weekend. This dream job doesn’t fit in well with a workaholic live-in boyfriend who expects that when he comes home, I’ll be home with a meal waiting. This dream job doesn’t lend well to a needy partner who expects me to always be available whenever he becomes so. This partner also immediately jumps on this new job as being his meal ticket for extra income allowing him to kick his tenant out, get benefits so that he can eventually move to private practice fully instead of working for the state full-time and private practice in the evenings. He neglects to recognize the fact that I have been very sick and largely unemployed for over eight months accruing tremendous medical debt in addition to the rest of my bills. He doesn’t realize how tenuous my health is still and how much support I still need…not just at night and on weekends.

Another reason, to add to this long list of cons, is how soon into our dating he’s even considering this moving in together phase. Although it feels like a couple years of a roller-coaster relationship, our first date was only four months ago. Three months ago the whole Former Dream Girl-debacle broke out. Two months ago, I was seeking final closure with the V-Man and even pondering whether we should get back together or not. A little over a month ago, the kids came and our relationship finally fused. Things have been mostly wonderful, yet we still have our bumps and bruises along the way, usually over our exes.

Moving in with a man and compromise is not something new to me. My college boyfriend and I lived together for almost three years quite happily, though co-dependently. We were best friends and lovers who also happened to need roommates at first. We had the normal growing pains learning what to expect or not to expect from each other. We learned how to balance our mutual finances and chores. We learned how to give each other space to be independent enough to relish all the times together. Eventually, we looked at our relationship as much more permanent and envisioned a long future together until the accident and my eventual move back East.

Later, the Bulldog and I lived together for a little over two years of our three-year relationship. Six months into our relationship, he planned to leave for Las Vegas to start up his recruiting business. By then we had two cats together and I was portable, so when he asked me to come with him, we had already established we were on strong enough ground to do take this on. When work stress, finances and living in tight spaces didn’t drive us to resent or snip at each other, we enjoyed life and planned the future together. We fused families together, we hosted our friends, we traveled, and we supported each other in our individual ventures. We took care of each other. But co-dependence and his bipolar tendencies and my strong desire not to be taken for granted and to be fully understood, appreciated, and supportive of my need for balance in health and relationships, in addition to work.

Though the V-Man and I never officially lived together full time, I spent a vast majority of my time at his house. We shopped, cooked, worked on the yard, and remodeled together. I did the dishes and laundry. I knew where every tool was stored, and he called me when I wasn’t around to remind him—and also to hear my voice. We were two very independent people who happened to enjoy life together. Sometimes when I needed to remember my balance, I’d cut down on the number of days I spent there. Later in the relationship, we talked about increasing it: that meant moving in together to me, or at least working toward that step; to the V-Man, that meant staying 5 or 6 nights a week instead of 3 or 4 and storing some of my stuff there. We were, in the end, on different pages for the future.

So the idea of moving in with Mr. E, particularly considering our rocky start and our boundary and trust issues makes me see red flags. This is a man who says he “needs to be taken care of,” whose home “needs a woman’s touch”, who is desperate for companionship so that he doesn’t have to face the weeknights alone. If my personal situation was different and I too didn’t need to be taken care of, if we had a stronger foundations, perhaps I’d have a different outlook on this man who very much wants me to be the woman with whom he lives out the rest of his life. Right now though, I know, we are not ready to move in.