A Crazy Marriage

I’m getting married to 6 people and a dog.

I gave notice to my landlord for January 31st. On February 1st I will no longer have a landlord; I’ll be one. My tenants will be my roommates and my family. If you think this is awkward, we’re just getting started. There are two reactions when I tell people about my future living situation:
“Oh, that sounds so wonderful for you all. I love it!” and,
“That’s crazy! You’re going to hate it. I would anyhow. Good luck!”
This blog will document, play by play, which reaction is on target.

I live now with my husband and my two little boys, ages 1 and 3. My future roommates are two couples, two children under the age of three, and a schnauzer-type dog. I’ve lived with roommates from the moment I was born, with the only exception of my first year in college. I had a roommate, but she spent the semester camped out on her boyfriend’s lap. So I know what I’m doing when it comes to roommates. I’ve never lived with other people’s babies and dogs. I’ve also never owned the house that I live in.

I don’t just own it. I made it. My husband and I made this. Three years of tears, stress and so, so much money. Now we’re going to invite a dog and other people’s children into our masterpiece. Crazy?

Maybe. But, it’s a marriage.

I probably don’t need to tell you that people have been living with extended family since there were people. The nuclear family only started with industrialization, when younger people had incentives to move toward industry, away from their parents. But there are still many places less touched by industry where grandparents, aunts and uncles all live together with their progeny. If you think, “Yeah but they hate it,” I would wager a large percent of my house that the most complaints about in-laws are heard in the nuclear-family US. Family relationships, like marriage, require work and love. The payback is the warmth of living in a community where people know you and love you unconditionally. We will help each other, share meals, games and conversation. We will escape the isolation that is the American family’s burden.

Known challenges:
– My brother-in-law likes everything to be labeled or he can’t find it. My husband prefers seamless label-free beauty.
– All the other parents intend to work full-time while I’m mostly home with my children. I’m sad about this, but I’m hoping a full time nanny will keep me company. Not my nanny; Leif’s nanny.
– I don’t like dogs. I especially don’t like children splashing in dogs water bowls and eating dog food. As much as I don’t like dogs, I love my sister and her (human) family. So I will deal.
– I don’t like people scratching my Teflon. Almost every roommate I’ve ever had has scratched the Teflon. Touching metal to Teflon removes the non-stick of it, and also scrapes up toxic Teflon flakes. Can we please use only rubber or wooden utensils on the Teflon? Also, don’t overheat Teflon. That’s also poisonous.
– We don’t have much storage space or fridge space. This has been a topic for debate and sore feelings already, even though we haven’t moved in. People love their stuff. Yes we do.

Silly Eliza, you say. Those aren’t even the beginning of the challenges. Of course they’re not.

Six years ago I married my husband, knowing that there would always be conflicts, usually the same ones again and again. They will never resolve. But I also knew that keeping a marriage is a choice. We choose to we remember that we are on the same side. We choose to communicate openly and kindly, even when we’d rather pout alone. We work to keep our empathy as strong as our love for ourselves. These choices we make again and again are what will keep us together and make us better for it.

Now I’m marrying into a much larger group of people. It doesn’t have to be forever, of course. But we can choose to make it work using the same tools that each of us is using in our marriage and with our children. If all of these tools aren’t enough, if we come across some vast differences about Teflon or labeling that just can’t be overcome…at least this kind of divorce doesn’t need lawyers; just a moving van.

But we’re all ready to try it, on February 1st. We all think it just might be ok. Crazy as it seems…I do.

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