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If you are in a committed relationship is it how you thought it would be? Is the person with whom you are now coupled who you expected when you first fell in love and decided to be a couple?

Very few of us are unsurprised by how it turns out once we are fully involved, living together, or married. There are almost always some unpleasant surprises and often some pleasant ones as well. What are yours?

My domestic partner of 6 and a half years is fairly much like my friend and lover of my college years only somewhat mellowed and made wiser by more than a half century of life’s vicissitudes. We each married others in our early twenties, reconnected very briefly after my divorce and his, and sporadically kept in touch by mail over the many intervening years. The advent of email made our reconnection more immediate and intense and led to our face to face meeting and the decision to live together. The man himself is the man I knew; his character formed at an early age, but living with him has held many surprises.

I am amazed almost daily at both his changes and his consistencies and often at my own. I first met him when he was 18. Then, as now, he wanted to be mated, married, in an established union. I, at 17, most certainly did not at all and more than a half century later resisted the idea of living together, let alone being married. He is still talented and wise and very good company and has a desire for, a tolerance of, far more togetherness than I do. I am still stubborn, often prickly, and we are both quite capable of compromise with good will. We have yet to fight – ever.

I was correct in my assessment of what the difficulties of our arrangement would be. There are no surprises in how often I feel constrained by the lack of more privacy in my little house, by how intrusive the noises of another’s daily rituals can be, how annoying someone else’s habits. What I didn’t bargain for is all the lovely parts of domestic intimacy.

There is a great comfort in having someone almost always on hand to whom to voice ideas, thoughts and opinions and how stimulating to hear his. Our discussions about anything – from politics to our food consumption- are almost always interesting, amusing, provocative. Socializing as a couple has distinct benefits to being a single woman. I/we are asked out more often and entertaining is half the work. I don’t like to drive and he does. He takes over almost all the work of my owning cats; I just get to enjoy them. Family dynamics, mine and his, have changed for the better.

There are many more benefits I might list of what I used to call “domestic blitz” and probably a few, but only a few, detriments. The point I’m making is that on the whole, while living with another person, a beloved person, has all the drawbacks that I knew it would, it has many more advantages. Loving the person who intrudes on one’s space is a big plus! Annoyances can be smoothed over and adjusted to by affectionate people of good will.

Remember that any relationship requires constant education of the other in “the care and feeding of me.” None of us come with printed manuals, alas. Keep the lines of communication open, always, and here’s hoping your surprises are as pleasant as mine. If they have not been DO something about it. Speak up. Ask your partner how things might be improved. Volunteer some suggestions. Enjoying a satisfying intimate relationship is well worth the effort.

Why Are You Having Sex and Have You Told Your Partner?

When I gave lectures on sexuality, whether the audience was students or professionals, I often began with a question that seemed silly to those there: “Why do people have sex?” After a few giggles someone would call out “because it feels good” and “to make a baby.”  More snickers, then silence. Eventually I would receive … Continue reading Why Are You Having Sex and Have You Told Your Partner?