Living with humans.

Living with people is hard. Even harder when you are introverted, not highly emotive, and overly practical about how to run your life. Even harder when your lifestyle is markedly alternative. But living with people can be handled.

As briefly mentioned last week, we were thinking of moving in with relatives and it fell through. And one of the reasons for it was quite simply that we felt we could not live with them at all. Their lifestyle clashed with ours, but there was a requirement that we merge our lives. And every pressure was put on us to change our own behaviours and accept the behaviours of the people we were moving in with. Which I suppose is fair enough, as they were there first. But neither Jon nor I are ready to change our lives so dramatically for anything or anyone. And the levels of drama were, quite frankly, massively above what we can tolerate, which, incidentally, is “as close to zero as possible”. So why try at all? Quite simply, we didn’t actually expect to have to change so much.

You see, we comfortably “live” with a couple we’re friends with semi regularly. We’ve had sleepovers, shared hotels, and our last holiday involved a solid week of houseshare. And although even arranging a single visit or day with the relatives was a nightmare, somehow living for a week with our friends was easy. We could do basic housework, arrange meals together, go places and even schedule my work and medical emergencies and shopping, all without a single falling out. So what gives? Why can we do that with them, but not our own family?

The core difference actually comes down to independence versus agreeability. Jon and I both have a strong desire to be independent, both as individuals and as a couple. So we aim to do as much as we can on our own. We also would rather things got done than did not, so we’re both agreeable as long as the work that needs to get done is getting done, but not at all agreeable when delays occur. And our friends are very much the same. They want to do their own thing and they want to do it in peace. So even though we were living together and doing things together, ultimately we were still operating as individuals and we were agreeable so as to enable all of us to continue operating as individuals.

Meanwhile, the main sources of conflict with the family were based around dependence and a need for agreeability beyond comfort. They were demanding to be informed of every aspect of our lives, insisting on helping us rather than letting us hire someone to do work, and getting upset whenever we chose to do something on our own. They were essentially demanding a merge of lives, a loss of independence to us. Share the dogs, let them take care of XYZ, put their needs first. And being highly emotive people, whenever we sought independence over communialism, they became upset. So rather than focusing on a problem, such as the dog needing somewhere to stay but them being unable to keep up their promises, or the solution, such as finding someone else to take care of her, we were expected to first and foremost focus on how we hurt their feelings throughout the situation. In other words, we were expected to be dependent on them and to be agreeable towards them. It was the complete opposite of our relationship with our friends.

I’m sure many people are happy to live with people who they are dependent on and agreeable towards. But ultimately, to avoid drama, you and the people you live with need to agree on your levels of interdependence and agreeability. Whether you want to lead completely isolated lives under the same roof or whether one of you will be completely dependent, you need to agree on that. And whether you want to handle everything bluntly or whether you need people to be sensitive to your emotions, you need to agree on that.

People can live together when they lead completely different lives. They cannot live together when their socializing patterns are completely different.

Let that be a lesson to all: before living with people, discuss dependence levels and how agreeable you need to be to each other. Because drama doesn’t come from disagreements, conflicting beliefs or busy lives. Drama comes from differing neediness.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.
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Why He Doesn’t Want To Come Home.

A phenomenon Jon and I have discussed previously, to no great conclusion, was revived by the recent idle drivel coming from the mouth of the UK’s own minor version of Bernie Sanders.

The short form of the matter is that, however much men will joke about “well, it beats being home with the gf/wife”, an increasing number of men actually act on it. They will go drinking right after work, take on overtime, or even go and do an unpleasant job for a friend or relative, relishing the time away from home. And we were stumped. But a little more discussion, insight and thought has led us to a fairly satisfactory answer: he doesn’t want to go home because he has no space there.

Humans may be social animals, but we are also private animals. As fairly reclusive introverts, Jon and I know this more than anyone. And we can see that even the most outgoing of extroverts from time to time withdraws into themselves the same way we need to do on a regular basis. Humans need time and space to think, to be quiet, to work on solo projects and to unwind. For introverts its about recharging, for extroverts it seems more about reminiscing and planning, for ambiverts its a bit of both.

And for most of our lives, we get that time and space. From around seven or eight years old, the point where we begin to see ourselves as a unit of society and socialize more sacrificially, passively and/or empathically, we are granted a right to time and space. We get to walk off on our own, have our own possessions to keep us busy away from everyone else, maybe even our own room if money and culture allow. This is Retreat with a capital R. And we need it. As we grow older, this boundary becomes more defined, even with friends and family. We learn to tell people we want some quiet time, that we’re tired, that we wanted to read a book or watch a show. And we learn that when others say similar things, they also need their space.

For some reason, though, many decide to throw this harmony out of the window when it comes to looking for a mate. My only guess is that it’s based on the same mechanism whereby people will lose weight, learn game, or even join a cult to find a partner. We simply put temporary effort into changing ourselves because we know, consciously or subconsciously, that being better means mixing our genes with better ones.

Some also temporarily give these people their personal space. They don’t have their own room any more. They don’t even have their own bed. They don’t have any space in the house where they can be left alone. They don’t have any time where it is appropriate to say “I just want to read a book right now”. Because they are convinced that they need to hand their whole lives to the other person in order for a relationship to work.

But the problem comes in with that “temporary” clause up there. Just as with spontaneous weight loss, a bit of game or joining a cult, unless your changes genuinely become a core part of you, this effort will melt away as the relationship cements. You will grow tired. You will have days where you don’t want to talk at all, or where you just want to sit down and regather your thoughts after work. You will want your time and space back. And so will your partner.

But in this sort of relationship, nobody makes the first move to letting that happen. All of a sudden, the person they loved and wanted to spend every second with becomes a chain around their ankles. They won’t shut up, they keep walking in on them gaming/reading/listening to music/indulging a hobby, they start pushing to do more things together to “relight the spark”. They both resent this constant presence and paradoxical distance.

And that is why he doesn’t want to come home. Because she is there. She is always there. It isn’t his home. There is no peace, no quiet, no time and space for him. There is no Refuge.

Of course, you needn’t spend any time apart to prevent this situation from developing. Jon and I easily spend every free minute together. He doesn’t have to go to the pub after work and I don’t need a girls’ night out to recover and get some social space. But you have to learn to be alone together sometimes. You have to be quiet, and restful, and minding your own business sometimes. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, but a little peace and quiet goes a long way.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

What are your observations on couples who can’t spend time together? What are the ways you and your partner meet the need for Refuge? Have you tried being alone together?

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

Rough Play Is A Requirement.

I am not sure where the idea that women are frail and delicate and need to be handled like fine porcelain or sugar sculptures came from. But it seems pretty pervasive.

From the occasional radical feminist who claims BDSM sex, or even light, playful wrestling, is somehow male dominance and aggression to the PUAs who walk about Kino as though any guy, without direction, would either never touch a woman or accidentally break her, it seems that men touching women “too much” or “too harshly” or “not enough” or “not gently enough” or just not “the right way” is a generally accepted idea. And although this idea has merit when talking about a man and a woman who do not know each other well, some people carry it into marriage, or for their whole lives.

But roughness isn’t just a welcome facet to sexual encounters and other intimate times: on many levels it is a requirement. This is just from personal observation and reading around, but the more I look, the clearer it seems to me that most women, myself included, crave an amount of action, physicality and yes, roughness with our partners. There are two scales for this: playfulness and force. On the playfulness scale we have a range from friendly, through toying, teasing, sensual, sexual, dominating, right up to serious, which may be taking it too far. Friendly roughness might be pushing someone aside, sensual roughness is guiding them directly by moving their body like a puppet, serious roughness would be bordering on actual violence. On the force scale we have playing limp, equalizer, controlled, overpowering and full force. Playing limp is passive resistance, equalizer is matching their power, controlled is allowing for push and pull, overpowering is just enough to take over and full force is using all your strength.

And everyone’s needs will vary on both scales. Some women will prefer friendly, equalized roughness. Some will prefer teasing, limp roughness. Some will prefer dominating, full force roughness. It is necessary to understand this to see what I’m trying to say. Not all women want to be completely dominated and thrown around the room. But some form of rough play seems essential to a healthy sex life for the vast majority of us.

[NSFW links.]

Some women end up with gentle men, but still have a desire for domination.

Some women enjoy the most intense forms of abuse and neglect.

Some women just want to be chased a little bit.

But on some level most women want it. And, from my personal observation, it goes beyond a want into an actual need. The more I read and the more I observe my own needs, the more I see that rough sex, when desired, is not something meekly being suggested to “spice things up”. More often than not, it’s something these women want regularly, the standard for the sex they crave. Even those of us who have only been with one man, who has always been at the same level of intensity, will crave a pre-calibrated amount of roughness. It’s not about what we fancy, about curiosity, about boredom or about something we used to get. It seems to be, quite simply, an inbuilt need.

Thoughts?

TTFN and Happy Hunting.

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

How To… temper your temper.

As of late I’ve been a bit grumpy. I know it’s mostly hormonal, but am currently unsure whether it’s a result of changing my usual mood stabilizers (coffee and fish-based omega supplements), a result of trying for a baby or that I am actually pregnant.

But a temper, however random and hormonal, is a vile thing to control. So here is how I have been trying to keep my usual disposition despite everything annoying me for no reason at all.

1: Do not play the blame game.

Whether the anger is justified or unjustified, don’t spend all your time looking for things to blame and problems that are making you angry.

Recognize the sources of your anger. Recognize their validity. But try and surpass them, rather than let them annoy you more.

Example: The dog has trodden mud in the carpet after a walk with your friend. You feel the dog is useless and annoying. You feel your friend could have controlled the dog better, or cleaned up after it.

Solution: Acknowledge that it’s done now and trying to put the blame on someone does not fix the issue, it just creates more bad feelings.

2: Keep your mouth shut.

Whether the anger is justified or unjustified, unless the situation is actively dangerous don’t bring up anger when you’re still angry. Sit it out, work on it in your head and then, when you’re cooled off, see if it’s worth mentioning. More often than not, once the anger has faded back, you will feel it wasn’t worth having an argument about.

Example: You want to shout at your friend for letting the dog into the house.

Solution: Rather than alienate your friend, ask them to help you clean and do not mention that you blame them,

3: Write up a schedule.

Sometimes we get angry because we are just generally stressed and overworked and one little thing out of place can ruin our whole day. Rather than let this happen repeatedly, write a schedule that leaves a bit of room between tasks so that you have time to handle mishaps.

Example: Your friend usually visits on a Wednesday at 12 and lets the dog out in the garden.

Solution: Make sure to be free on Wednesdays from 11.50 to 12.30 so you can clean the dog before it gets inside.

4: Do something creative and relaxing.

Again, sometimes we’re just doing far, far, far too much and need some time to unwind. Humans aren’t meant to just work all day. We need some down time. And what better time for down time than when we are sitting around seething?

Doing something creative calms the stressed part of our brain and is an outlet for anger and sadness.

Example: The carpet looks damaged beyond repair. Now you start thinking about the cost of getting a new one and feel even more stressed.

Solution: Sit down for a bit with a cup of tea and some knitting, a book or some pencils and paper. At first keep the problem out of your mind, but as you relax, slowly let it in and seek a solution.

5: Look for the brightness.

There is a silver lining to every cloud, or so the saying goes. When you are in a bad place it can be hard to see the bright side, especially when it looks like the situation has no upsides at all. But it’s important to consider what the situation could be.

Is there another side effect that has provided an upside? This means there is a silver lining.

Could the situation have been much worse? This means you are doing well compared to what could have been.

Did the situation result from a generally positive thing? This means it is a small price to pay.

Examples:

If you absolutely have to change the carpet, you get to pick a new carpet for your room and reconsider the decor to make it nice. Silver lining.

The carpet was already old and stained, so it doesn’t make any difference, it can stay that way. The scenario is not so bad.

Your friend is a human and humans make mistakes. A stained carpet is a small price to pay for a friend.

And that is how I am managing my annoyance lately. I’m hoping this will pass on its own, or that I will find a way of managing my moods again, seeing as being constantly annoyed isn’t good for your mental health. But at least I am not letting it hurt those close to me or upset my life.

How do you manage irregular moods or anger?

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

Bonus: The Valentine’s Day lunchbox.

Because Jon is working tonight, but he still deserves that extra special treatment. If anything, he deserves it all the more for working so hard! 🙂

The Best Lamb Burger Recipe

Sweet Hearts Jam Tarts and Brazils to snack on.

For dinner a heart-shaped lamb burger; mushroom, spinach and garlic fry; heart mushrooms cooked in lamb fat; beans, for some carbs; carrots, beets and courgette as hearts too.

Plus a bowl of turkey and sausage stew for his lunch, which was not pictured because it was still cooking when I did the photos.

He mostly wants to stay lower carb than usual, but not VLC, so plenty of veg to balance out the sweet things.

Who said cute bento (lunch) boxes were just for Japanese moms and girlfriends?

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

5 Little Acts Of Holiday Seduction.

Because why not have a bit of fun with your partner whilst you’re both home?

1: Flirty advent.

There are all sorts of fun and quirky advent ideas for people who miss the excitement of the advent calendar but who’ve had enough of strange-tasting milk chocolate of questionable origin. So why not a fun and flirty one?

Maybe they could be redeemable coupons, personal messages or little daily rewards, as naughty or nice as you need them to be, just make sure it’s all about having fun and giving. 🙂

2: Hot cocoa.

If you’re feeling cold, miserable, stressed and bored… chances are your beloved is too! Make two steaming mugs of hot cocoa, pick a film between you and snuggle up on the sofa under the blankets. Try and make some personal time for this, when the kids and pets are in bed.

3: Mistletoe.

Mistletoe, mistletoe everywhere… How about a bunch at the front door, over your partner’s seat in the kitchen and living room, in their office/study/workshop and, of course, over the bed? (Try plastic, paper or fabric mistletoe if you’re worried about allergies or small creatures -two and four legged alike- eating them!)

Then just make sure to point it out whenever you’re both underneath it. 🙂

4: Sexy Santa.

Find yourself a cute Santa apron, a Santa hat and some red slippers. Arrange some cookies/biscuits on a platter with cocoa, coffee or tea, whatever your partner prefers. Then, present them with some edible festive gifts in nothing but that.

5: Big bow.

Feel like you haven’t got enough gifts to show your beloved how important they are to you? Or that they have everything they need, so it’s hard to get something meaningful? If you want to be the icing on the pudding these holidays, then wrap yourself up in a bow on Christmas morning before handing over their presents. Whatever you wear under that is up to you.

And above all, have fun, destress and remember your partner this season.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

Tomorrow the papers will be signed…

…it’s odd to think of marriage this way. Well, to me it isn’t. I was never really the little girl who dreamed of a white wedding. I was the little girl who idolized Xena and wanted to be Peter Pan. I was the little girl hunting sheep round the back of our farmhouse. I had no time for dressup, boys or parties, although party food was more than welcome.

And I don’t think I ever grew out of that. If anything, I matured into it. I can say with almost complete confidence that I hadn’t once imagined a wedding until Jon said he’d want to get married. I was actually not all that into the idea of marriage until I met Jon. It just seemed like pointless expense that apparently most men didn’t want anyway, so whether I found someone whose company I actually enjoyed or became a spinster, marriage just wasn’t a concern.

So it’s odd to be looking at it now and realizing how unusual this is.

Everyone else seems to want a dress and a gathering, to be the centre of attention for a day or fifty. You’re expected to have a white dress, matching shoes and a giant cake, all your friends and family gathered for a fancy speech and a meal and a dance. Flowers that match the dress or the venue. Or if they’re less traditional they might want a themed wedding, something different, maybe a steampunk wedding or a candy themed wedding with an elaborate cake and jars of sweeties everywhere, I don’t know. So many people want to make it important, make it “the big day”, make it special. And if they want that for themselves, then that’s fine.

But I still don’t see the point of a wedding beyond making banking, child custody and joint ventures easier. Oh, and the tax break. The ceremony just looks like the best part of a deposit on a house that was wasted on fancy perishables, to be honest.

We’ve been together for almost four and a half years now and remaining together to raise children and grandchildren and look after each other into old age was always really the goal. Neither of us got into the relationship accidentally or just for the fun of it. Within three months we’d already ventured into the size of family we were looking forward to having. Sure, we wouldn’t be together if we didn’t find each other fun, but there was always a goal, it was never just fun. I’m not even sure I could build a human relationship purely based on fun. Fun is transient. My goal is to build and craft a life where I can have the most fun, enjoy myself the most. Not to just leap on it as and when it comes and live with consequences later. This was my first relationship beyond teenage social obligations to have “a boyfriend” for school conversation.

We’ve been living together as a married couple for over a year and a half now. And, again, it doesn’t really need celebrating. This is just what humans, or at least we, as humans, do. We wanted to have children and grandchildren together and look after each other until death, so living together was a natural move. We had shared our living spaces even before that, over weekends and weeks and fortnights. There were no surprises. He knew I had the odd day when I had low energy or needed to cry a lot. I knew he had days when he just wanted to sit and game. He knew I painted and read and wrote when I wanted to calm down and I knew how to get his favourite meals put together. It was a pretty seamless transition.

We’re not religious, although neither of us are vehement atheists either and I have a bit more of a belief in things beyond what we can directly experience. So there was no religious urge to marry. We would live like this regardless of whether or not we were contractually obligated to and if there is a powerful being that judges our relationship quality, I’m not sure that being legally married or not makes any difference to it.

So it doesn’t really feel like we’re celebrating anything.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s amazing to be with Jon. He is the most perfect human I have ever met. He’s good looking, tall with nice hands and a great grin. He’s smart and widely read and eager to discuss any subject with me as long as neither of us is illiterate in it, which is a rare occurrence. He’s more scientifically minded which balances and overlaps with my creative mind and where he helps me with mathematics, I can help him with language and linguistics. He and I naturally lean towards similar if not exactly the same viewpoints and even when we disagree we find merit in the other’s perspective. He’s also the only person I can be with half a day or all day, every day, for months on end without a break and not get tired of. Scratch that: he’s the only person I can talk to for over an hour daily for four days and not get tired of. He’s the only person where I don’t have to resort to the digital barrier of emails and facebook so he doesn’t drain my energy. We’re headed in the same direction in life: to a nice smallholding where we can both be self employed with 4-10 biological children and some fostered children once our own are mostly grown up. He’s great and an excellent match for me.

But I really don’t feel like I need a piece of paper to tell me that. I know that.

And I don’t need a piece of paper to tell me we will constantly strive to be together until one of us passes. I know that too.

So here’s to a tax break, future children and a great night out. May there be many to come.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!