is this relationship serious enough for you?
Today I found myself justifying my relationship with my boyfriend to a bank teller. I assured her that we were “serious” and we’d talked about marriage. What I was really trying to say was: ‘I have a boyfriend; we still live with our parents, but please take us seriously’.
Admitting that I have a boyfriend and that we still live with our parents is embarrassing. No one takes us seriously. But it occurs to me, if you rush into a relationship too quickly, everyone places bets on when you will split. So why is living with the parents, taking it slow, maturing together, and getting to know each other’s families, considered such a bad thing?
Staying with our parents is certainly a surer way of getting to know someone, and their families, for better or for worse. I dare to argue that living with the parentals shows more commitment, than couples who live together away from the scrutiny of relatives.
To be together we have forfeited our right to choose what we watch on TV, what we eat for dinner, and even whether or not we sleep in on a Sunday, for fear of being labelled ‘lazy’ by the over fifty-years-old parentals who wake up at the crack of dawn. These simple freedoms I miss.
Maintaining a close relationship with your boyfriend, while living with family is not easy! There is no privacy to hide a bad hair day, or to have a cranky, moody day. All the skeletons come out of the closet sooner, rather than later.
Every exchange between us, good or bad, usually warrants a comment. A lingering kiss garners an “ewww” from Michael’s younger sister. Every cross look I give Michael after he burps, is followed by a corresponding belch by my father in comradeship.
Nothing between us is private. Family dinners are peppered with “When are you going to get married?” And there are no words to describe the feeling of knowing that your potential mother-in-law has seen your underwear collection hanging on the washing line.
But despite the awkwardness of these situations, these trials test our relationship, and simultaneously reaffirm our commitment to each other. Being asked when we’re going to get married opens the door for us to have the discussion and in doing so we learn more about each other. Knowing my potential family in-law have seen my knickers and still approve of me is reassuring. And knowing my father is happy to undermine my authority in front of Michael is infuriatingly frustrating, but also lets me know that he approves of my choice in men.
So if we’re facing the challenges of being with a partner and our families, simultaneously, and we still want to be together; why do I have to justify our commitment to those who assume we aren’t dedicated to each other just because we live with our families?
And why are we being frowned upon for taking our relationship slowly, when people are more than happy to criticise relationships that move too quickly?
I am guilty, as I’m positive most people are, of judging relationships that appear ‘rushed’. Just yesterday I commented on an acquaintance who met, and has fallen pregnant to her boyfriend all within the space of four months. “How long will they last?” I pondered. Rushed relationships and predictions of splits go hand-in-hand.
People are happy to criticise quick couplings, just as easily as they doubt slower paced partnerships.
This begs the question; what is the perfect speed of a relationship? Is there a formula to predict what is right for each unique couple? Ask the average person and the response would be to the effect of “each to their own”. Yet in reality this is clearly not the case. Clearly there are standards, and expectations.
But today the rules are shifting and changing. When Obama can proclaim his support of gay marriage, and still be a candidate in the presidential race. When reality stars wed and separate within 72 days. And in a world where Kylie can be a serial monogamist at 42 years of age, and still sing in front of the Queen. Who can ever possibly please everyone when it comes to conducting a “right and proper” relationship?
The answer is you can’t, and by attempting to please the whole world with your relationship, you will only be asking for disappointment. So if I happen to come across the bank teller again she may give me her judgemental look, but I will find comfort in the worlds of Michael Leunig “Love one another and you will be happy; it is as simple and as difficult as that.”
By Amelia Drew