My Roommate Life: Part 1

I’ve blogged a few times about how great my roommate is, and most people who know us have commented on how much we seem like a married couple. So I’ve been processing for a couple of months now how roommate-life is (and isn’t) like married life.

In Part 1 (this post), I’ll talk about how having a close roommate is like having a spouse. And in Part 2, I’ll talk about how it’s very much not like having a spouse.

How we met

Nicole and I have a mutual friend, and back in the day, this mutual friend would talk to Nicole about me – and to me about Nicole. For years, Nicole and I were separately jealous of how much our mutual friend talked about her other friend. Yet, for years, we didn’t meet each other.

In 2009, our mutual friend got married, and Nicole and I were both bridesmaids in the wedding. We spent about 36 hours together in which we were focused more on the bride than each other, and I promptly forgot about Nicole as she and I went back to our respective cities after the wedding.

In 2012, I told our mutual friend that I was planning to move to San Diego. A few weeks later, I received a group text from her, re-introducing me to her friend Nicole, who (it just so happened) was planning to move to San Diego that same summer. A few texts and one phone call later, we had an apartment together.

The second time we met, we were moving into the same apartment. And thus began our “arranged marriage.”

We had a 6-month lease, thinking we could stick it out for at least that long if we didn’t like each other. Eight months later, we looked at each other and said, “I guess this is working!” Two moves, two other roommates, one trip to Europe, and almost four years later, we’re still together, and – as they say – our relationship is stronger than ever.

How we are practically married

Nicole and I get teased all the time by people that we’re “an old married couple.” I take this as a compliment most times. We’ve even both been told by our siblings that we should probably just get married to each other. (I told my brother that wasn’t going to happen because we both like men. His response: “Well, that’s something you have in common!”)

When people look at us, they really do see the “married” side of us, as much as Nicole tries to make sure we have our own identities when we meet groups of new people.

Our “marriedness” comes out in heaps of ways:

  • We fuss at each other like we’ve been related for years.
  • We have conversations like…
    • Should I wear the black one or the blue one?
    • The black one.
    • Okay, I’ll wear the blue one.
  • We call each other “beautiful” and “darling” and “sexy.”
  • We share stuff.
  • We invite people over to our home.
  • We get asked the “how did you two meet?” question – ALL the time.
  • We talk about our families, get invited to family events, and grieve together over family drama.
  • We get shared invitations to events (weddings, parties, etc.).
  • I am super attached to her nieces and am really sad when she gets to see them and I don’t.
  • We have anniversary parties every July (the month we moved in together).
  • We have “our shows” that we are not allowed to Netflix- or Hulu-cheat on each other with.
  • We snuggle while watching our shows and hold hands randomly in movie theaters or church or wherever.
  • We share most of our expenses.
  • People wrongly assume things about us because of the other one. Like…
    • because she’s a vegetarian, I am too. (I am not. Ordering pizza together is entertaining.)
    • because I don’t like baby showers, she doesn’t either. (I hate baby showers; she loves them.)
  • We hug each other hello and good-night.
  • We text each other to pick up milk on the way home from work.

In many respects, we joke that I’m the husband – at least culturally speaking:

  • She cooks, and I clean.
  • When we grocery shop together, I push the cart, play games on my phone, say “Yes, Dear,” and whip out my credit card at the end. She does the actual shopping.
  • When she was unemployed for a short time earlier this year, I would come home after a long day at my new job, just wanting to rest and write and catch up on TV shows. I would walk in to her cooking dinner (barefoot) in the kitchen, wanting to spend the next few hours until bedtime with me because my being home was the most interesting thing that had happened to her all day.
  • I usually drive wherever we go.

Countless times, we’ve had to work through conflict (this was an arranged marriage, after all). And countless times, we’ve learned how to communicate better, love harder, and serve each other well. I was once talking to a friend about how Nicole and I weren’t communicating well at the moment, and she said, “You guys will work through it. You’re Charity and Nicole! One of the best things about your relationship is that you always love each other even when you’re fighting or miscommunicating.” And we did. Through prayer and humility and long talks, we got through that phase.

In 2015, our first third roommate (the first of two other people who have lived with us) got married, and Nicole and I left for Europe a few days later. We joked that our roommate got a wedding, and we got a honeymoon. We were there during our third “anniversary,” traipsing through countries while sharing budgets, beds, and airplane rides – managing to still like each other at the end.

How this affects my view of marriage

So this is all great and cute and whatever, but living with Nicole brings up lies that I have to fight constantly.

Lie 1: I am completely prepared for marriage since I’m basically married right now (minus sex and babies – not that we haven’t tossed around the idea of fostering children together).

Lie 2: Even if I’m not completely prepared, God is using this time in order to prepare me for a husband someday. Because what other purpose could a roommate possibly serve, unless she’s a catalyst to marriage?

The truths to fight these lies are kind of obvious.

Truth 1: Nothing will ever completely prepare me for marriage. God only gives grace when it’s needed.

Truth 2: Singleness isn’t simply the absence of marriage. It’s a perfectly valid state that needs to be enjoyed for what it is. Even if I never get married, what I’m learning/experiencing with Nicole is valid and good in and of itself.

And yet these truths are ones that I have to remind myself of over and over and over.

Nicole is exactly who I need to be doing life with right now. Living with her is teaching me to be selfless, aware of other people’s feelings, more kind, and less up-tight about certain things. I’m not learning those things so I can be a better wife someday; I’m learning them because God wants to make me more like Jesus in selflessness, others-awareness, kindness, and priorities. The things I learn from living with her carry over into my relationships with my family, my co-workers, and the rest of the body of Christ.

In our lives together, we live out the Gospel . . .

  • When we’re living peaceably together, as we portray what it’s like to “live in peace with all [people].” (Romans 12:18)
  • When we’re arguing and repenting and reconciling – because isn’t that what the Gospel is all about? We humans sinned against God, and because of the Gospel/Jesus, we have the grace to repent of those sins and reconcile with God. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Living with Nicole makes me heaps more content in my singleness, and not just because she cooks for me and shops for dresses with me. This life makes me more content because I live out the Gospel with her, and only in the Gospel can I find true contentment.

Stay tuned for Part 2: how living with a roommate is definitely NOT like marriage.

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