So first let’s be clear on the idea that this whole thing could go wrong in a thousand different ways. I like to lead off with that, because I feel more comfortable setting low expectations, and then (we hope) being pleasantly surprised later.
But I don’t mean to be too glib about the potential downside. Anyone who looks at this living situation-to-be immediately intuits that there are myriad usually-invisible variables in everyone’s psyches and routines that are going to get exposed by this arrangement, and that any one of them could turn out to be a showstopper, or at least a source of real difficulty.
For amusement, let me list the first few that come to mind, knowing that you, gentle reader, will have an equally-rich list of your own:
- Two people routinely want to use (the shower, the bathroom, the batpole) at the same time.
- One kid behaves in a way that offends another parent deeply; irrational antics ensue.
- The messy one keeps irking the neat freak, just like on that show.
- We keep switching languages because we are all showoff polyglots.
- The house owners and the renters start a class war over the use of “erasable” markers.
- The fact that we don’t have a batpole, despite the obvious benefits it would afford us all.
(And for the record, Eliza is the actual polyglot, and I am the showoff who “speaks” multiple languages only slightly better than my two-year-old speaks English.)
That’s just off the top of my head. I see many (more, colorful) ways in which this could go wrong. But I really don’t think it will. Don’t get me wrong: I have every confidence that we will have actual, real disagreements, and even fights, and I believe that they will result in hurt feelings from time to time.
But I also believe two other facts that I think are more important:
We are all grown-ups. (Well, except for the four toddlers. And, according to my wife, sometimes except for me, which is a fair point.) But fundamentally, we are a bunch of adults with a whole lot of experience dealing with other adults in a reasonably respectful and empathetic way. If you don’t think that’s a big deal, then I want you to take a minute imagining the most colorful housemate meltdown you care to, and then critically examine whether all the players in your scenario are being grown-ups. …See what I mean?
We are all married. I gotta tell ya, if you’re hankering for a steep learning curve on the personal growth side of things, I recommend that you go ahead and live a rich and varied life as a single person, and then get married relatively late in the game. I promise you that you will learn things you never knew existed, things you never wanted to have to learn, things you always secretly hoped someone else would just abstract away from you, like a butler who irons your shirts for you, because we all know you were never going to get around to doing that. My point is: we are all very aware that merging a part of your life with someone else’s agenda takes care, work, and really good manners. Even when we get it wrong, which I’m sure we all will, I feel confident that I can trust all of us to know it and to own it, at least soon if not immediately.
Now, in case you’re not convinced that this is an experiment worth running, I’ll just point out that some cousins get to grow up as siblings, and some good but estranged-by-distance friends get to get a lot closer (i.e. de facto adopted into the family). Plus, it’s going to make a lot of other things easier, more fun, or both. In my book, that package of benefits is worth taking on a lot of risk for.
We definitely have to do something about that missing batpole pretty soon, though.