Is Domestic Bliss Really Blissful?


Not quite...

Last month, I accepted an invitation from an old college friend to come to dinner at her place.  I’d just found out that I did not, in fact, have ovarian cancer but the scare had made me realize that I really value our friendship, even though we don’t see each other all that often, and that it was high time that I finally made it out to see her new apartment.

Having missed the housewarming party, I stopped by the liquor store to purchase two bottles of wine: one to accompany the salmon she was going to prepare and one to be saved for a special occasion.  It was, I’m rather embarrassed to admit, the first time I’d gone to dinner at a friend’s house since last summer and I was determined to make a lovely time of it.

I didn’t know what to expect.  This particular friend of mine met her boyfriend on (I blame her/them for the past year’s excess) and after several months of the whole long distance thing, they decided to move in together.

Now I have plenty of friends who’ve gotten married and even a few who’ve have kids but this was the first time I’d witnessed the entire process, from “winking” to dating to moving in together.  I had no idea how they’d gone about melding their lives (not to mention their stuff) but I feared it would be very boring and practical and full of chore charts and arguments over closet space.

Well, I was wrong.  Once again.

The loft was adorable— all full of plants, Tibetan prayer flags, yoga paraphernalia and maps.

Yes, maps.

“Are these all the places you guys have gone together?” I asked, pointing to the pins scattered across a floor-to-ceiling rendering of South America.

“No,” she replied, “They’re all the places we want to go.”


I hadn’t expected that.  Who knew you could “settle down” and still travel the world?  My parents did it but the majority of my peers seem to forget about the rest of the world when they find “The One.”

It’s always been a fantasy of mine to travel abroad with a man I love.  I did it once, at seventeen, but we were kids really, and a few days scattered across the youth hostels of Western Europe hardly counts—especially because I was still very much a “good girl” at the time and spent each night alone on a bunk in one of the female dorms.

As such, I couldn’t believe that here my friend was cooking dinner in her very own kitchen (three pieces of salmon, so that there’d be one left for her boyfriend when he got home from work) and still planning trips to South America.  I never considered that domestic bliss (complete with cathedral ceilings) could be combined with wanderlust.

Eventually, her boyfriend came home from work, helped himself to a piece of salmon and perched on the counter in the kitchen so as to join in our conversation without completely inserting himself into our girl talk.  (Nicely done.)

“How’s the dating going?” he asked.

I had to laugh; the last time we saw each other, I was still smarting over Date #4’s refusal to come to my dinner party and obviously a lot’s changed since then.  Also, during said dinner party, I had gotten pretty tipsy so when my friend went downstairs to use the restroom, I lost no time in telling her new boyfriend that I liked him “tons more” than the last one.

By the time we finished our salmon and moved onto dessert, in fact, I was green with envy.  Granted, if I moved out and attempted to set up house on my own, I’d inadvertently kill any and all of the plants my mother would so lovingly bestow upon me (I killed an aloe in college.  Who kills an aloe?  They’re like the easiest plants ever!) but still—it would be nice to reach the point of actually moving in with someone, wouldn’t it?

For those of you who’ve taken the plunge (married or not), how does it actually feel?  Is co-habitation all it’s cracked up to be?  And if not, what surprised you the most?

PS: And while you’re thinking about it, please vote!  It only takes a few seconds and you don’t have to sign up for anything or enter your contact info, just click 🙂

13 Responses to “Is Domestic Bliss Really Blissful?”

  1. kbomb78

    Lovely post! My opinion is yes marriage can be great and most of the time is. Its the having kids part that wears you out. Dont get me wrong I Love my children but the day to day Grind wears on myself and my husband but hey this is the real world you gotta do it. I Look forward to the day when my husband and I can once again focus on us travel and Fun! In the meantime. Back to Work, Housekeeper, Mom, Baby sitter, bath Giver, Taxi. well you get it 😉

  2. notquiteold

    I met my husband when I was 38. That was a very long time to live alone. When he moved in (which was quite quickly), it was very difficult to have this “intruder” in my house. I kept wanting him to go home – but he was home. It took six months for me to stop detesting it, and start looking forward to someone to greet me at the end of the day. We’ve been married 20 years now… so I guess it all works out.

  3. sarahnsh

    I just moved in with my fiancee about a month or so ago. I do enjoy it a lot, and when I visit my mom and stay at my ‘old’ room and sleep there, it doesn’t feel right. I thought it’d be a lot harder, and we’d get sick of each other quicker because of all the time we would be spending together, but it turned out really well. I really would love to travel all over the place with him and already have a travel list we can tackle bit-by-bit.

  4. Philly Tap Teaser

    Dale and I lived together for almost 2 years before we got married. I can’t even remember any issues with cohabitating. We just wanted to be together 24/7 and nothing else mattered. Getting married was just a formality since we were so used to sharing space. I agree with a previous poster that cohabitating gets more challenging when the kids come because there is less time to hang out, less time to talk and work out problems, more stuff to manage, more complicated decisions which require compromising.

  5. Jenny Rebecca Winters

    My husband and I had also lived alone for many years and we were also older when we got married (37 and 41) so you’d think we’d be set in our ways. We moved in together, at his apartment (Bachelor pad!) after 3 months of dating. We got married 7 months after our first date and admittedly, it was still “his place”. We kind of figured out why it still felt that way and are both always making adjustments so the other feels comfortable. I hate to sound like a cliche–and Kat, you KNOW I hate doing that–but when it’s “The One” things are a lot easier.

    And just to add…I was absolutely convinced, at 40, that there WAS no “The One”. You just gotta find someone who feels the same way! 🙂

  6. amanda

    my BF and i have been together for 5 years, living together for 3 of them. before we moved in together, though, we were pretty specific about our living space: at least two bedrooms, and we wanted a house. not an apartment, a condo, or a townhouse, an actual, stand-alone, single family house. it’s worked out fabulously. having that much space means that if we need alone time, we can get it. in fact, we like living together so much we’ve decided to do it permanently: we’re buying a place next year (but marriage? not so much. we’re doing just fine without it 🙂 ).

  7. Philly Tap Teaser

    There’s apparently a new trend (I read about it in the NYT last week) where more people in relationships sleep over at their SO’s place a certain number of times a week, but each both maintain their own apartments. As in, more young people don’t want to deal with the trials and tribulations of cohabiting and commitment.

  8. Landlord

    Being from the dinosaur age, most of our friends did NOT live together before marriage, so getting married, was a HUGE change in our lives, dealing with both living habits and realizing that we made a huge commitment to each other and figuring out ways to make it work. I can’t even think about the “stayover” relationship, but then again I wasn’t making tons of money, so keeping two apartments would have been a financial strain.

    We also knew/dated each other for years, but even so, living together is different. Fortunately for us, chauffeur was gone a lot with his job, so ms. independent could have her cake and eat it too, which helped ease the transition. It is a series of give and take, and figuring out what are the deal breakers and which are the ones you will just pout about for a while.

    I think giving ourselves time to forge our way in our careers, do some traveling, and then making sure we had our home set up before we had kids, really helped things go smoother as well. What can I say, I’m a planner 🙂

  9. Tech Support

    How do you kill aloe? I’ve watered mine like 4 times since I moved in 1.75 years ago and its still alive. (hmm, maybe i should water it today)

  10. Becca

    We got to the point when there was just too much migrating between two homes to be practical. Plus, it was him more than me, so not very fair either!

    Moving in (new place we chose together) was the right thing then. Rather than being concerned that we’d find it hard to mesh our lives (and stuff!) together, I worried that our lives would merge too much and that we’d become ‘the couple that stays in and watches tv’. but with separate interests and friends as well as lots of stuff in common, we’ve struck a good balance – so happily ever after for now 🙂

    Oh and Kat – you’re not the only one – I killed and aloe too. Quite recently. Gift from de facto mother in law. Oops… Have discovered that after spider plants are the only option for me!

  11. becky119

    Adam and I didn’t have such a traditional start off. We basically dated for a week and then moved in. Or more accurately, I moved into his apartment (effectively pissing off his roommate). Once my lease was up on the apartment I was sharing with my ex I got my own place in South Philly (across the street from a crack house–no joke) and Adam moved in with me when his lease was up. From there we moved to Conshohocken for a year. Then to Roxborough for a year. Then to East Falls, and have stayed put for going on three years.

    In all of my time living with Adam, my biggest complaint would be chores. He doesn’t think that he has to do as many chores as I do because the house is ‘technically’ his (more accurately his parents) and I don’t have to pay rent. So I should make myself useful according to him. After many arguments, we have gotten a little bit better. He usually does the laundry, except he doesn’t fold it which drives me crazy but that will never change, I’ve come to accept. He is also in charge of taking out the garbage and collecting it on garbage night. All outdoor chores are his as well, mowing the lawn, shoveling the sidewalk, etc. I am the only one who will do dishes, but he will empty the dishwasher if I pester him enough. I don’t think he has ever touched a mop in his life, but he will vacuum everywhere. And if the stars alight right he’ll even clean the bathroom.

    Probably the biggest problem is that there are two of us, plus three cats, plus a dog (all of which are my responsibility) and we live in a three story house plus basement. There is just a lot of space and it is easy to make a mess.

    It took awhile for us to reach this much of an agreement, I think that chores are a subject that should be touched on before moving in with a guy. It is important that they don’t expect you to do everything.

    Oh, and as for plants…I recommend cactus. It repels animals and is hard to kill. 🙂


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