One love, one roof finally materializes

Just six weeks short of two years of marriage, my husband and I are finally living under one roof. Well, at least five of the seven days per week. Operation “OLOR” or One Love (under) One Roof, as he refers to it, is nearly complete. While not absolute cohabitation, this beats the pants off seeing each other only two days per week.

Why did this take so long? We wanted to do things “right,” which always takes four times as long (and costs twice as much). But it’s worth it, or at least that’s how you self-justify the extra hassle as you’re wading through it. Unlike in childhood, when doing the right thing was reinforced by parental feet on your seat, adult doing the right thing is something you kick yourself over.

My husband and I agreed early in the relationship on the importance of doing things right by everyone to the extent possible, in a way honoring existing commitments and the important others in our lives.

In retrospect, had we fully realized four years ago what we were signing up for on our first “non-date” (I wouldn’t date Kerry at first because I was friends with his ex-wife), we might not have chosen each other as life traveling companions, let alone taken the high road. Sure we’ll feel good about it in old age, but we’ve got to make it there alive.

Nothing prepares one for the sacrifice required of the high road. While the air is clean and traffic minimal along that narrow path, you’re traveling substantially uncharted territory. No map in the glove box of a vehicle unequipped with a GPS. You never know exactly where you are. The seats are uncomfortable and lack safety belts. Faith is the only provision you get to take along.

After I consented to going out, Kerry and I dated for a year and then were engaged for a year before embarking upon the madness of a separate household marriage. I suppose we could have held off on marriage, as many people have pointed out to us. But we were certain nothing short of full commitment would do. That still holds true today, but check back with me after we finish consolidating households. It may have changed.

There have been tolls to pay along the high road and an abundance of potholes. My chief complaint is the absence of rest stops. You just have to keep driving forward. Like a traffic jam, life is a series of “hurry up and wait” sequences. For us, it’s been wait, wait, wait, then HURRY UP!

Kerry’s youngest child graduated at the end of May. Kerry listed his house June 8th. The graduation open house was June 12. Kerry began packing June 13 and moving in June 19. OLOR cometh at last, just as he’d guaranteed. It’s nice to be married to someone who delivers on his promise. Just wish it came without boxes.

As the boxes started rolling in, I felt a rising sense of panic and displacement. And I’m not the one moving. I don’t do well with things out of place. And I liked ruling MY household. Two sets of lifetime habits converge. Getting along was easy with separate houses to retreat to. So I gut the closet in my (I mean “our”) bedroom and make it his, a symbolically submissive gesture: Making room for our lives together.

Kerry is coming from central air, three bathrooms, a large laundry room, double refrigerator with ice-maker, dishwasher and a garage. But it wasn’t home. I pencil him in on our hot water-rationing shower schedule and demonstrate ice cube tray emptying. This must feel like camping to him. We consolidate grocery lists. His must-haves include 2% milk (we’re skim people), more red meat, fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt, fresh ground coffee, and large quantities of refrigerator hogging, under-ripe fruit. I’ll comply.

As I am fond of saying, “The warm sensation you feel in the pit of your stomach from doing the right thing is actually just the start of an ulcer.” I should have packed some antacids for the high road trip. I write “Rolaids” on the joint grocery list. Hopefully a small bottle will do.

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