Cohabitation; Married To The Lease

You never run out of socks. As the designated sock thief in my house I can’t say enough how much I appreciate the endless supply of socks in A’s sock drawer

Cohabitation also known as “living in sin” or in my native tongue “Kuchaya mapoto” is the state of living together as a couple and having a sexual and or romantic relationship without being married.

People cohabitate for different reasons…

Some may cohabitate because of economical reasons. With the rising cost of living in the UK with most people not becoming home owners until the age of 33. It now makes sense to more and more people that once you’ve found someone you can be committed to, to focus on establishing foundations such as home ownership before getting married.

Some people cohabitate to test the strength of the relationship before jumping the broom. They place importance on making an informed decision before vowing to be with someone for better or for worse.

Some people don’t believe in marriage and cohabitation this the highest level of commitment that they want and are comfortable with.

UK statistics show that Cohabitation has become the second most common family type in the UK next to married couples and it is the fastest growing category.

“While married couple families remain the most common, cohabiting couples are the fastest growing family type as people increasingly choose to live together before, or without, getting married...

The number of cohabiting couple families continues to grow faster than married couple and lone parent families, with an increase of 25.8% over the decade 2008 to 2018….

Married and civil partner couple families were the most common family type in the UK in 2018, representing two-thirds (67.1%) of all families. Cohabiting couple families were the second-largest family type at 3.4 million (17.9%), followed by 2.9 million (15%) lone parent families. Since 2008, the share of married couple families has declined from 69.1% of all families, while the share of cohabiting couple families has increased from 15.3%….

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/families/bulletins/familiesandhouseholds/2018

I’ve been living with A for almost 2 years. We first started living together almost exactly a year after we met. When he first suggested it to me I was very apprehensive because the arrangement we had was working very well but, from the outset A had always said that he was looking to settle down.

I eventually said yes and we have been living together ever since.

I’ve lived with men before. Throughout Uni I had male housemates, one of which was a boyfriend so I thought I knew what I was getting myself into.

To say the least, I was wrong.

Nothing can really prepare you for sharing your space with someone else. In the last 2 years there have been some pleasant surprises and some hilarious realisations but all in all I’m of the mind that all of the things I’ve had to learn are things you need to know if you’re going to have your relationship become more serious.

Imagine agreeing to marry someone and finding out that they don’t value family as much as you do? Or that they believe in gender roles and hate leftovers so you’re cooking everyday after work 7 days a week.

Living together isn’t easy but to me it’s a crucial step to take before marriage because living with your partner allows you to get to know them in new and important ways.

Brace yourself because no matter how well you think you know your person. There are a few things that you can only learn by living with them.

  1. How Clean They Are

We were all taught or not taught how to clean by different people. So the way you think the kitchen should look after it’s clean won’t necessarily align with your persons. Petty arguments about cleaning the kitchen sink taps until ALL the limescale is gone will arise.

Living together highlights this particularly well because even when you date for a long period of time and visit each others spaces you’re still not behaving as you would in your own space because you’re still just a (sexy) guest.

When you live together the thing we all hope for is a clean person that’s not too much Monica Gellar with the weekly spring cleans or too Joey Tribiani with the spaghetti on the rug.

As with everything involved within a relationship the best way to resolve cleaning disputes is to communicate. Luckily A and I are quite laid back in general about how clean the house should be. I have a thing about the bathroom, the bedroom and the skirting boards so I take charge there. He’s particular about the living room and the kitchen so that’s where he heads the cleaning charge.

It took a couple of petty arguments( that still happen to this) for us to get here though so be patient.

It’ll be 2 years living together for us in November and even now we’re still figuring this out.

2. How Financially Responsible/Comfortable They Really Are

We’ve all been there. You start seeing someone new they excite you and you forget that you’re saving for a new car or for the deposit for a house. You spend money like it grows on trees in the honeymoon phase and that is excusable.

Once the dust settles you can get an indication of how well your person manages their money when you go on dates, plan baecations etc. However, this can be easily faked as well because who is to say they aren’t taking you to Hakkasan insisting on paying the bill then begging their Mum for grocery and transport money for the rest of the month?

No matter how many Hakkasan dates and bae cations they take you on you won’t really know how responsible (or irresponsible) they are with money until you start depending on them to pay half the rent and bills.

Your person could be the type that’s addicted to Klarna and Clearpay and is okay living in debt because they don’t have any long term goals.

But on the flip side your person could be the type to send you an itemised spreadsheet of all the expenses at the end of the month and expect you to pay the £2.50 to replace the Utterly Butterly they prefer over the Olive Spread

Conversations centred around money can be very awkward. When A and I met I was a student and he had been working full time since he was 18.

He had A LOT more money than me and I found it hard to accept his help when he offered and to even ask for his help when I really needed it.

I realised quickly that we were both socialised around money very differently. My mum drilled in financial independence into me asking her for help was never an option I had to make my pocket money last or I’d have no money for nice things.

A on the other hand grew up with his mum and family being quite ready to help each other out when it was needed.

Consolidating these two socialisations once we lived together was hard. I was quite guarded about my money and he was very open to the point of disclosing my salary to his friends once I started my grad job.

We’ve learned how to meet in the middle now I’m not guarded about my money anymore and he doesn’t spill the beans about our situation to family and friends. So sharing bills rent and debts has become so much easier.

The key as always was balance

3. Sex VS Real Life

When you don’t live together you can compartmentalise sex and your real life. You can go to your babes’ house and enjoy your time together and forget about what’s going on back home.

When you live together however the sex changes. It’s great because you understand each other’s bodies better so the sex is amazing but the romance goes away. You really have to try to make an effort to be romantic or it can seem like you’re taking your other half for granted.

Spicing up your sex life is key. Being purposeful with the act and not allowing outside distractions is the best way around it.

When A and I met we were long long distance. Leeds- Colchester. It was a 4 hour drive or a 4 hour train journey with 4 changes. We would see each other 2/4 times a month.

Prolonged absences and foreplay via FaceTime and sexy photos really helped to build the sexual tension and romantic expectation so that by the time we saw each other it was always fireworks.

Now that we live together the fireworks are still there but we have to work much harder for them. Mood lighting and sex playlists as well as being deliberately romantic has helped keep up the heat.

So resist the urge to complain about how council tax has become more expensive this year just after you orgasm and add some new songs to your sex playlist.

We do go through occasional ruts because of important arguments about our careers, money and commitments outside of us like family but we always work our way back to that initial chemistry.

4. Sharing and Compromise

This one seems dumb. We all got taught how to share when we were little and as adults we should have a good grasp on how to do this fairly.

When you live with someone you have to share everything. Your bed, your sofa, the bathroom, the refrigerator in a much different way than you would in your family home or with any housemates you may have had in the past.

The difference is that there is a hierarchy in your family home and house shares are a jungle with no rules and general chaos.

You and your partner are equals (or at least should be) this means that except for the spare room that you’ve turned into an office no one really has a 100% say on what goes on in the house.

It stretches from little things like not finishing all the ice cream cones because your partner doesn’t snack as often as you do and all the way to choosing the kind of house you want to buy together.

How me and A share was truly tested when we moved to Manchester and went furniture shopping. We have similar tastes but the difference was still large enough to cause a little friction.

If I had my choice our living room would be grey with rose gold accents and little cute chackyas laying around. However A isn’t a fan of pink so we had to settle for grey and black with gold accents .

But in order to maintain peace I recognised how important it was for him to make decisions about major pieces of furniture in the house. I’m a little more decoratively inclined so I get final say on things like rugs and paintings etc.

Living together is a great way to test if your person has the necessary negotiating, communication and compromise levels in order to build a family with you.

Bringing two people together means that a lot of the time you will not get your own way and that can be a tough adjustment if the other person doesn’t have any give and is super stubborn.

One of the best aspects of sharing a home with someone you really care about is learning to compromise not because you think that you have to, but because you genuinely feel that making sure your partner feels happy is more important than making sure you get everything you want, every single time.

Its not all seriousness and adulting though. There are some great things about living together.

  1. Its Cheaper.

This is the main cause for cohabitation and it really speak for itself.

2. Its a great way to test the strength of your relationship if marriage is a final goal.

3. Its a great way to show you’re wholly committed to someone if marriage isn’t something you want for yourself.

4.Safety.

My house got burgled 3 times when I lived in Leeds and that has left me with PTSD. If I didn’t live with A i would probably have a housemate or two and its a lot harder to force your housemates to clean up after themselves. Oh and he’s a great spider killer

5.You grow together.

One marker of a successful relationship is growing and evolving together. A lot of people drift apart from past loves because they don’t grow together. Having your person by your side helps keep you on your feet as they challenge you to achieve your goals. We all need coaches and motivators, and when that person lives with you, it’s almost impossible not to achieve any goal.

6. Endless cups of tea.

We’re both tea lovers so it’s great to have someone to make me tea and just do small little gestures for me. Breakfast in Bed? Yes pls.

7. You live with your best friend.

Late night chats with A are my favourite. We speak more honestly and laugh the hardest when its just me and him cuddled up in the dark.

8. You get to see them everyday.

Coming home to A will never get old. Even during quarantine waking up to him everyday hasn’t gotten old.

9. You’ll Gain Insight into One Another’s Sexual Appetites

Once you live together, you’re able to be sexually intimate every day, if you like. And if you don’t want to get down every day, it’s good to learn that before you tie the knot. You’ll get to know each other’s level of desire and find a balance in terms of frequency so you can both feel good about your sexual life together.

10. You never run out of socks. As the designated sock thief in my house I can’t say enough how much I appreciate the endless supply of socks in A’s sock drawer

Living with someone is hard and personally its not a hardship that I want to got through once I’ve said my I dos in front of friends and family. I feel like if I cant make the decision to commit to someone for all their good and bad before marriage then once I am married I’ll feel like I’m more committed to being married than being with the person I’ve made the commitment to.

xoxo Tiniwana

Hire Me Please I’m A Graduate! 😭😥

Calling it a hot mess was an understatement.

I remember getting the email that my results were out. This was shortly followed by an email congratulating me for passing all my exams and graduating. So before I even saw my results I knew I’d done it. The “final frontier in education”and I had conquered it, or so I thought.

When you’re applying for Uni the common message you hear is that you’ll never fail, it’s up and up from there. No one tells you about how hard it is to get to that place.

My first hurdle was my Graduation Ceremony, I didn’t really want to go but the second I got my purple and gold LBU 2018 graduation invite I knew I wanted to walk those steps, do a quick vosho for the culture and spend the afternoon being celebrated by my family. It’s only when I factored in my complicated blended family that I realised that would never actually happen. We get 2-3 tickets for graduation depending on needs etc and I’m sure some are available for purchase ( I never bothered to check). The dilemma was my parents were long divorced and not on amicable terms, I wouldn’t say my stepdad is someone I count as family enough to deserve the ticket and I basically have no relationship with my stepmom.

The first ticket was always going to go to A because I seriously would not have graduated without him. I knew my parents both being there was a no go and I didn’t really want either of their partners there. It was making me anxious and depressed so I decided to forgo the ceremony and graduate In Absentia. It was the right choice and I don’t regret it. I’ll get to walk when I get my masters anyway

Exam season ended in May and results were out early June. I had been basically looking for a job since I handed in my final paper. I signed up to all the legal recruitment agencies I could find, spoke to a few contacts I had made during Uni but nothing really had my interest and at the time I thought I deserved better than the £18-£20k pay packets that were on offer. To make things worse it wasn’t even the law jobs that were offering those kinds of salaries it was jobs in sales and recruitment.

I went to an interview at a Medical Law Firm and they were recruiting Trainee Paralegals and offering £14500. This was basically the case almost everywhere. After 3 years of a law degree battling depression , social anxiety and securing a 2:1 I realised that I was sold a dream. Everywhere I looked where they wanted a degree and were offering a good starting salary they also wanted experience and my work placements and vacation schemes were not enough.

Bottom line I felt scammed. I was in a worse off position than friends that did 1-2 year professional courses and went into jobs that required that qualification. I found myself regretting all the time and effort I’d spent on Uni. My dream was to be a writer anyway and I know I’m talented so why didn’t I just push for that?…

My parents were a big factor when it came to choosing my Degree but mostly my Mum. When I told her that I wanted to do English with creative writing she said that there was no point because I have natural talent and don’t need to do anything except practice whenever I have time. She told me that my Law Degree would get me better job prospects. It didn’t feel like that when I graduated in fact I felt like companies and recruiters knew that I was desperate to get my foot into law and they were trying to take advantage of that.

Initially I didn’t get many offers worth my time and because of that I started to fall into state of depression, I stopped looking at my emails and answering phone calls. I actually missed out on a lot of great opportunities because of the shock of not having my expectations met immediately .

The saddest thing was that I had set up my summer in anticipation of getting a job quickly. I had already signed for a house with one of my closest friends, made plans to see my ex housemates and I had convinced my partner to move up from Colchester to Leeds.

Basically all of it went to shit, calling it a hot mess was an understatement.

Thankfully everyone was understanding, I found someone to take over my tenancy agreement, made alternate plans with my housemates and my partner postponed his move until I stabilised.

When I moved back to my Mums place it felt like I applied for 100s of jobs, I kept getting calls from recruitment agencies about well paying teaching and sales jobs but i knew I wouldn’t last in a teaching or sales environment.

Out of all the jobs I applied for I went to two interviews and I was offered the role in a medical law firm that represents NHS patients and a role in optical retail. I was so excited when I got offered the job in the law firm that I didn’t really do any checks into what the role entailed. All I can say that it was highly contentious and being that I hated Medical Law no amount of money could’ve convinced me to practise it so I took the optical retail job.

At this point I had given up on working in Law so I stopped applying for jobs in law firms and just settled with climbing up the ladder at my retail job. The company really believed in me and sent me on multiple all expense paid training days within my first month of working. So i thought why not?

I hated the work culture though, coming in early to get the shop ready, leaving late to cash up the tills, interacting with rude sometimes unwashed customers, mouth breathers and men that felt it was appropriate to ask if I was single/ one guy that proposed to me whilst the shop was super busy.

I was getting sick of it but felt like I had no choice, it was only until my partner A asked me why the fuck I wasn’t using my degree that I started applying for jobs in law firms again. I tweaked my CV and lowered my salary expectations and I got replies within 2 weeks and an on the spot job offer at a small newish firm in Derby.

The interview was one of the easiest I’ve ever had, the HR Manager just wanted to find out what I enjoyed most at Uni, what my ambitions were and whether I actually had a genuine interest in property law. I was super excited about this firm in particular because of its close links to the Mortgage Brokerage Business which is what I ultimately want to do.

My ops manager likes to remind me that I’m the only one that he’s ever offered a job in the spot which I love. I’ve been in industry for 6 months now and I really enjoy how challenging it is. I haven’t made any disgusting mistakes yet but the pressure of handling people’s savings and people’s homes really makes the job rewarding. I had a client ring me after a transaction completed to tell me that I’m the best Conveyancer she’s ever had and my emotional ass almost cried down the phone to her.

There are some things I don’t like about the job. Dealing with Equity Transfers makes me sad because most of the clients are divorced partners ( my regular blog readers will know why that’s a particularly soft spot for me). First time I did one I had to leave the office and take a breather in the bathrooms.

Anyway I’ll stop rambling and leave my fellow recent graduates with a few words of advice

1. Lower your Salary Expectations (if you don’t have at least one years experience in industry)

– your degree isn’t an immediate fast track to more money for your role. Your degree is proof to your employer that you are dedicated and disciplined enough to commit yourself to something that doesn’t immediately gratify you.

I can only name a handful of people that got what they wanted within 3 months of graduating, a successful friend of mine has to work in a call centre for almost a year before he got an offer that piqued his interest.

2. Pay Your Dues

– within every single conversation I’ve had with a successful person they always tell me how hard it was and how they had to start at the bottom. The bottom is different from everyone, I know a man that was homeless in his mid 20s sleeping in a carpet he salvaged from his repossessed house that now has 2 million in his account and 3 properties across Europe

Realise that no one is going to reward you unless you show that you are going to work for it. You’re gonna need to take that shitty retail job whilst you wait for something else to come along, once that things comes along you might have to be someone’s assistant. Nothing worth the while comes easy so don’t squander opportunity because you feel like it’s beneath you.

3 Keep Your Support System in the Loop

– having A and my sister and my best friend be 100% in the loop helped me out so much. They knew when to reassure me and when to tell me to buck my ideas up. They also reminded me that I didn’t get through Uni to end up in the same place that I was before. Basically without them I’d probably still be working in retail

4 Pay Your Dues but Don’t Be Taken Fi Eeediyat

-Understand that you’re not going to be able to get everything you want from the jump but also pay attention to how the company treats its employees.

Are people rewarded when they work hard?

In terms of room for progression do they look to promote people internally?

Do they offer any company funded training?

How does HR deal with complaints?

One thing your degree guarantees you is that as long as you can back it up with experience and a good employment track record you’ll never go backwards. If the company isn’t right, pay your dues then use your experience to step up the ladder, it might be more pay you’re looking for or more responsibility but at that point the world is your oyster.

i hope my ramblings were at least entertaining, thanks for reading xxx