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Domestic Insights

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G and I are both only children, which in some ways surprises me that we're so compatible when it comes to sharing our space. When I moved in with him, we'd only been dating for about eight months. It felt quick at the time, but I think we did it for all of the right reasons. We were spending virtually every night together and I hated having to go back to my own apartment. On one of our first mornings after the move, I remember waking up and telling him, "this feels like a fun slumber party that doesn't have to end." It still feels like that most days, but I thought it would also be fun to share some of the not-so-perfect aspects about co-habitation. We each answered the below 10 questions about living together.

What is the best thing about living with your spouse?

Emily: There are a lot of reasons why I love living with G, but I think the main one is that we genuinely enjoy each other's company. Even on a Friday night when we have no plans to speak of, at least we have each other, which always turns into a fun evening, whether that's watching a movie, reading together in bed or playing a game of Scrabble (even if he always wins). We spend a lot of time together though, especially since we're business partners, so I appreciate that when we need a little space, that it's also not a big deal to do our own thing. Geoffrey: Emily obviously stole the best answer, but I think the 2nd best thing about living with her is the beautiful aesthetic she’s created for our home. It feels inviting and comfortable, while also refined and deliberate. Most men, myself included, don't take into consideration the small design details that make a room practical and stylish. Since we spend so much time at home it's important for the environment to be pleasing to the eye and very functional.

What is the thing that annoys you most about living with your spouse?

E: I'm going to sound like a brat even complaining about this, but when G cooks dinner, often times the dishes hang out in the sink "soaking" for a day or two. I'm certainly not the tidiest person in the world (in fact, I'm downright sloppy most of the time), but I do take pride in the fact that when I'm making something in the kitchen, I clean as I go so at the end, there's no mess or dirty dishes lying around.G: This is definitely a guy's gripe, but I dislike her lack of interest in learning about how certain appliances or tools work, then using them the wrong way. For example, we have a set of very nice knives, each of which are designed for a specific purpose. However, she regularly uses the wrong knife when hacking away at various foods and claims that understanding the different uses is too confusing. I gave her the analogy of her make-up brushes, of which she has dozens, each with a different purpose. She knows exactly how to use each brush, because it's something that is important to her, while the knives are not.

Who is cleaner, you or your spouse?

E: That'd be my husband. I'm good about certain things - like making the bed each morning (since I'm still in it when he goes to the gym at 6am), cleaning my desk at the end of the day, and not leaving my clothes around the house. But my closet is a perpetual struggle. Each time I do a big organizational overhaul and think that I've finally figured out how to keep it tidy, it's back to looking unkempt and chaotic a few days later. 

G: Agree with the above, although there are times where Emily will get this crazy burst of energy and want to clean the house from top to bottom. I get out of her way and let her direct me during those occasions.

How do you delegate chores?

E: It's not like we have some detailed spreadsheet or anything. For the most part, we both take care of the things we hate the least. I'm fine going to the grocery store and the farmers' market on the weekends, whereas he'd rather stay home and relax on his days off. That means he's often the one doing the mid-week run to Whole Foods, which works for me. I think the thing that's perhaps even more important than how we delegate chores is acknowledging when someone has handled something. If he's cleaned the kitchen or swept up around the outside of the house, I always make a point to let him know that I appreciate him doing so. That goes a long way.G: We've never really had a discussion about this, but it typically breaks down to stereotypical chores. For example, I take out the trash, since it's usually too heavy for her to lift. It's important to share verbal appreciation for your shared responsibilities, which is something Emily is much better at than I am.

What are some rules you implemented after moving in together that didn't exist when you were single?

E: I think the biggest adjustment I had to make was realizing the importance of keeping our place clean (my motto now is that the house should always be 10 minutes away from being guest-ready). When I lived on my own, my studio was either immaculate or a disaster, never really in between. And someone else's mess always seems worse than your own, so if one person leaves shoes by the couch and the other piles plates by the sink, things are going to spiral pretty quickly. We both try to take responsibility for our own messes while also helping out if someone else has left something here or there.

G: I was adamant about not having a television in the bedroom. I felt that room should be kind of a sanctuary, where you could rest and disconnect from things. I also feel like watching TV in bed can negatively affect your sleep. I recently compromised, once Emily started going through her first wave of morning sickness and she wanted a place in the house with some privacy, but also needed a distraction. She didn't want to splay out on the couch, so we installed a small TV in the bedroom, but we agreed to limit its use to weekends, morning news shows, or when someone is sick. 

What chore do you hate the most? Alternatively, what chore can you most tolerate? 

E: I hate doing laundry. I also happen to be pretty bad at it and will shrink things, wash pieces that aren't meant to be washed or leave something in a pocket that stains the entire load. Also, my folding skills are pretty much non-existent, so even after I've done a load of laundry, all of the clothes will appear dirty within minutes since I've essentially just stuffed them back into my drawers. I can tolerate any chores that involve the cats. I can be pretty lazy with myself (I've been known to eat bread that's kiiiinda moldy or forget to wash my vegetables), but never with them. I'm meticulous about making sure their litter is always clean, their water bowls filled to the brim with clean water and that they're fed at the same time each day.G: Cleaning cat litter sucks. It's a never ending chore, since the moment I finish throwing it out, one of them instantly jumps into the box to take care of business. It's almost like they're mocking me, which makes me dislike the chore even more than I already do.  Thankfully Emily loves being the cats' slave, so it's a task she's happy to do. I actually don't mind vacuuming. I get a weird sense of fulfillment as I see the dust chamber begin to fill up on our vacuum cleaner, it makes me think things are actually getting clean.

What's your favorite room in the house and why?E: The kitchen. It's a wonderful, open space and the vibe in there is just really comfortable and welcoming. I love sitting at the counter to read a magazine or to hang out with G while he cooks. It's also where we do the majority of our entertaining, even though we have a formal dining room. It's funny - our kitchen actually reminds me a lot of my parents', which also happens to be my favorite room (for the same reasons) at their house.

G: I love our dining room, which also doubles as my office. It's the only room in the house that is painted an actual color (Farrow & Ball 'Hague Blue') and the window layout provides the best afternoon light. 

Something your spouse does in/for the house that you really appreciate?E: G handles pretty much any problems with the house. If the internet goes down, if there's a leak or if something needs to be repaired, he takes care of it. It makes me feel really secure and that both the house and I are being well taken care of. Oh, he's also the one responsible for keeping our fiddle leaf fig tree and kumquat trees that flank the entrance to the house alive. I kill plants (even cacti) within days of bringing them home.G: When I was single, I never had fresh flowers or scented candles in my house, but I really do appreciate the positive sensory impact they provide to a home. Emily does an amazing job of keeping our house feeling fresh and smelling amazing. 

Things you did/didn't expect about owning your own house?E: I expected to feel grown up, and I certainly do. I still find myself occasionally sitting in a spot in our home and not believing it's actually ours. I guess I didn't expect that it would make me feel ready for a family. When we moved in, I was still on the fence about having kids (though I was leaning more towards the idea every day). But there was something about having our own space that we didn't have to share that shifted something inside of me. Perhaps it was just the timing of it and it would have happened regardless of our living situation, but I do feel like our home is very conducive for accommodating kids.

G: I feel a greater responsibility and obligation towards making our home not just the place we live, but a reflection of who we are as a family. Renting another person's property doesn't provide an intimate connection, so I never felt truly settled. I was passing time until the next place. 

How do you expect your aesthetic to change once the baby arrives?E: I'm sure I'll look back on this answer in a few months and laugh at my naiveté. My hope is that our aesthetic will more or less stay the same, with just a few new accessories (and more messes). While we were researching baby products, we were both very conscious of finding pieces that fit with the overall vibe of our place, while still keeping in mind that they're meant to appeal to an infant. The main thing I wanted to make sure of was that we didn't accumulate too much stuff so that our entire house felt overrun with baby products. Some of our friends with kids have houses that are completely overrun with their children's stuff. Others have managed to find the balance. Sure there are some toys and other accessories, but it doesn't feel like you've stepped into those ball pits at Chuck E. Cheese's with stuff flying everywhere.

G: I don't think we necessarily need to change our aesthetic for the baby. They'll obviously prefer certain items over others and from what I've heard, they really love ugly toys. I believe in keeping clutter to a minimum, so we'll use a lot of well designed storage solutions to manage her stuff and as she gets older, provide her with more control of her own room design. 

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