31 December 2015

Married, with Housemates

A recent article entitled, "Married, with roommates: why my wife and I choose to live in a group house" brings up some of the reasons that I think it good to live in community while being married.

Thomas Burnett notes:
"For us, living in a group house was not a phase to grow out of but a lifestyle choice that valued people over privacy. Sure, we lose certain freedoms — we can't walk around the kitchen naked, for instance — but what we get in return is many lighthearted conversations, laughter, and an opportunity to get to know people on a deep level. As Roberts wrote in his essay, "The key ingredient for the formation of friendships is repeated spontaneous contact." In a city where we have to plan coffee dates with people two weeks in advance, a group house can readily foster spontaneity.
In addition, I think these living arrangements enhance rather than detract from our marriage. Living with others, we don't put pressure on each other to be our only conversation partner. Without that burden, we are free to enjoy each other's company rather than depending on it to satisfy all of our social needs."

Near the end of the article, he highlights some of the things he and his wife needed to do to make community sustainable. These are wise and practical insights about the need to be clear about expectations and honest about human nature.

A final thought - words to ponder regarding my own priorities in sharing space:
"It's one thing to split the rent and another thing to enjoy life together. Sharing utility bills is different from sharing meals. Am I cooking at home just to stay within my food budget or to deepen my relationships? Is my primary motivation for living with housemates just to save money or to foster community? Would I be willing to sacrifice some individual privacy in exchange for developing a shared social identity? People answer these questions quite differently, and it doesn't take much time of living with others in order to learn what they value most."

This post has been cross-posted at The Firehouse Community.

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