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Living in Sin
2005-05-13 - 4:39 p.m.

My wife and I lived together for at least two years before we were married.

I have always thought that living with your possible future spouse before getting married is a wise plan of action. You may know that you like the same kinds of movies, that you like the same restaurants and that you like the same political party.

But until you live with someone you will never know about that horrendous snoring sound they make in their sleep. Or that they squeeze the toothpaste tube from the middle. Or that they have this annoying habit of expecting me to keep the house clean. Sheesh.

Not long ago I was talking to a friend of mine that said that he was getting pretty serious with his girlfriend, and was talking about getting engaged. I asked if he had plans for the two of them to live together before they got married. He explained that, because of his folk's Methodist beliefs, they would be pretty upset if he lived with a woman to which he wasn't married. That would be Living in Sin. I tried to tell him that the same people that would be upset about him living with his fiancee before he was actually married to her, would be the same people that would be doubly upset about his getting a divorce in a year when he discovered that he couldn't live with her.

I'm Agnostic now, but I was raised Methodist. I didn't set out to anger my Methodist church-going mother, but I also had no intention of asking someone to marry me if I didn't know what it was going to be like to live with them on a daily basis.

I'm a stacker. That's what my wife calls me, a "stacker". By that she means that I will make stacks of things anywhere and everywhere. If I'm somewhere in the house reading a magazine, and I'm done with reading it for the time being, I'll put it down on whatever flat surface is nearby: end table, desk, coffee table, mantle, top of the television, etc. And if that happens to be on top of a magazine that I left there yesterday, so be it. Things on top of other things. Stacks.
Before we got married, my wife knew this. And she knew this because we lived together for about two years before we decided to get married. She had lots of time to figure out whether or not this was a dealbreaker. I guess she weighed that against my positives (I put down toilet seats, I open doors for her, I shower), and decided that she could live with my stacking.

My wife washes clothes. Every. Single. Day. You might be thinking "well what's wrong with that? She's keeping your clothing clean, you ingrate!". Don't get me wrong, I love that my clothes are always clean. But it also opens me up to getting the stinkeye when, at the end of the day, I take off my socks and put them in the dirty clothes basket. The empty clothes basket. I get the "I spent the day cleaning all the clothes. All of them! And how do you repay me? You put a lone pair of socks in the hamper. I should gut you like a fish!" narrowed stare. But I knew that she was like this before I married her, because we had lived together. I weighed this habit against her positives (she puts up with my stacking), and I decided that it wasn't a dealbreaker.

So people, spend some time with your prospective spouse. Learn about their annoying habits, like their leaving almost empty milk containers in the fridge, their rapid-fire television remote skills, their sleeping around, etc. It's a wise investment, and it may keep you far away from a divorce attorney for the rest of your married life.

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