Zoned Out

15 Dec

Letterbalm Be QuietDear LetterBalm: My boyfriend of three years has been asking me to move in together. We get along in all the important ways, and we love each other like crazy. But I don’t think he really understands how important peace and quiet are to me. I work as an emergency room nurse, and I need the tranquility to unwind. I love my private time and evenings to myself, and I don’t want to lose that. My boyfriend likes to socialize every night with a houseful of friends. He likes his big-screen TV and music, I like my books and painting. Part of the reason we’re so compatible is that we have separate places. I need him to realize how much all this means to me.

–Serenity Sister

Ms. L.B. isn’t sure how much compromise will work here. You and your boyfriend are diametrically opposed on this important matter, but both of you love each other. What to do? If you agree on cohabiting, there can be ways to make it work. Find a new space to make your own as a couple. See if you can appropriate an extra bedroom as your library and studio (and get good noise-reducing headphones or talk with someone about inexpensive soundproofing techniques); your boyfriend can have his TV in the living room. But you and he must agree on what living space you can afford, especially if you have children together. And, certainly, before you cohabit, it’s imperative that you speak up for your need for quietude and occasional private time. Talk with your boyfriend when the two of you are alone and not at each other’s homes – no distractions from friends or the big game:

Malik, you’ve been asking about us moving in together. I know we love each other in all the things that are important. But there are a few things we have to agree on. First, we need a brand-new place so we make our own memories as a couple. Second, I must have a separate room of my own as a library and painting studio. You know how I retreat to have peace and quiet. Baby, my job is so stressful, I must have downtime to unwind. This is non-negotiable. I must have a room of my own – inexpensively soundproofed, too. If we have a child or if circumstances change and a relative moves in, I won’t give up the room. So, we have to figure this in the budget, even if there are times when money is tight. I want you to be honest with me – how do you feel about this?

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