At the end of January 2017, my husband and I were married for a year and six months. It wasn’t until those last six months, though, that we started finding ourselves together – as a married couple.
The first year of marriage, everything was different. New town (for me), new people (also for me), new home (for both of us) and of course new lifestyle – neither of us has ever been married before, or lived with a partner before. That first year was a lot of adjustment. Even though we both felt that our marriage seemed to come naturally – it didn’t really seem strange to live together, or wake up in the same bed; it seemed right – we were still learning how to live together. So during that time, we primarily did what our parents did when we were growing up – shopping in a similar way, spending the way our parents did, doing the things we had watched our parents doing.
After Time Away:
A year and a half later couldn’t be more different from how we started. These past six months we have found our own routines and preferences, things neither of our parents did (or that we are aware of them ever doing).
- We buy “fancy” cheese (a few we have tried include “blueberry vanilla goat cheese” – a favorite, “rosemary and olive oil asiago cheese” and “balsam and fig goat cheese” – yum) a few times a month at the grocery store, and eat it on mini toasts – a fun semi-healthy snack that allows us to try many new flavors.
- Also, we go to a “cultural” restaurant once a month. For us that means choosing a restaurant outside of our culture/experiences/and sometimes our comfort zone to try other foods. We tried a Thai restaurant due to starting this practice, and LOVE it! Hopefully we will be trying an Indian restaurant soon.
Different Spending Patterns:
- Shopping for clothes once a month, regardless of whether we need clothes, helps our budget. There is a price limit that we can spend per person a month. It does NOT roll over to the next month. Growing up, we outgrew or wore out our clothes close to the same time. Then we had to go buy new clothes all at once. With our method, we always have clothes that are in good shape/fit us and can spread out the clothes buying. It’s also kind of fun, and if we are particularly broke one month, it wouldn’t be a big deal to simply not buy new clothes that month.
- We have budget meetings where we sit down and discuss our spending and financial situation together once a month. Sometimes we miss a month when it is particularly busy, but then the next budget meeting we do the month we missed as well.
Branching Out with Dinners:
- We don’t necessarily eat the same dinner every night (or even most nights). When my husband lived at home, he ate whatever his mom fixed for dinner. When I lived at home, I usually fixed dinner and could choose what I wanted to fix within reason. Everyone ate it and would complain if a certain meal was featured too often.
The first year of marriage especially, I made dinner nearly every night (or we had leftovers, but those were usually lunch, not dinner) and we ate the same things. A year and six months later, I usually prepare dinner about once a week (except for special occasions). I cook a big casserole/pot/whatever and we enjoy those leftovers when desired. Other than that, we “fend for ourselves”.
If I’m preparing something I offer to fix him some of what I’m having, but if he isn’t interested he makes himself a sandwich, a bowl of tuna salad (we eat just the filling with no bread), has cereal, or eats a leftover out of the refrigerator. Usually I make myself a salad, since salad is my favorite food. We keep fresh broccoli, tomatoes, bell pepper, and lettuce/spinach in the refrigerator for these salads. When I cut up the produce, I slice the broccoli stems (he doesn’t mind them), a few pieces of the broccoli head, and some bell pepper and bag it for him to snack on later.
- Many of our meals are meatless, which kind of goes along with the point above. This is not because we do not enjoy meat, but because meatless meals are much more affordable. We both come from families where meat is featured in virtually every dinner.
Loving Where We are Headed Together:
These are some of the ways that we have differed in our marriage than from either of our parent’s marriages. I’m interested to see where we are six months or a year from now; if we have kept these practices or established new ones. These practices are fun, but spending ones can also easily be dropped for a month or so if money is tight. They are especially meaningful to me, however, because they make us more unique as a couple. We are not “following our parent’s footsteps” – we are striking out on a different path and finding our own place together.
How has your lifestyle changed if you are living on your own or together with a partner?