Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Re: A Cohabitation Update

To Kim's Kitchen Sink:

I would grow weary of monthly budget sit-downs, itemized chore rosters, and high-lighted question marks next to tubs of ice cream that were technically for both of you but only one person ate. Indeed, I think that sort of policy of stringent household equivocation would drive my Boy screaming from the house. He is much more content with the "thump" policy--that is, if I require him to clean, fix, or pay for something, I thump him on the forehead. But maybe you and your Boy will find that refreshing, to get everything aired out and back to even on a regular basis, and it wouldn't require you to be constantly responsible for his actions. This all is, of course, up to you.

That said, if you're happy to go the on-paper, every cent tallied route, I think there's some considerations you should take in before you agree to any financial or tidiness-related "fairness campaign":

-who earns more? S/he should feel comfortable throwing down more for rent, utils, and chow.
-who's home more? S/he should feel comfortable cleaning and maintaining more.
(if these spots are filled by the same person...well la-tee-frickin-da, good for him or her.)
-who is more likely to generate a mess that does not benefit the other? if you bake a pie by yourself for both of you to eat, it is appropriate for Boy to at least help cleaning up all the mixing bowls. if you bake a pie and don't share, you clean up for yourself. If he takes his bike apart on the living room floor to grease it and you walk through an hour later and trip over a spoked wheel, you have a right to kick him.
-Does either party enjoy cleaning? Will one person get upset if s/he begins to clean and the other doesn't snap-to to help? Does one party clean things that aren't actually dirty, or does one party fail to see filth? If that's the case, only a verbal instruction (paired with a thumping) is going to get you anywhere anyway.
-Who is better at budgeting? Who actually gets the fingerprints off the wine glasses? If you tend to forget to pay the rent, perhaps you should entrust the budgeting and fiscal scheduling with him. If, try as he might, he still manages to turn your socks pink, perhaps you should do the laundry. If you are actually better at all of these things than him, perhaps its time to teach the dork how to wash a dish, and tattoo due-dates on his arms.

Writing checks to each other actually sounds like what divorced people do, not people who really want to live together and make things work. Remember--as long as both people are aware and remember to pay on a regular basis, most equivocation will come out in the wash. If after a few months you're finding that fiscal fairness is not being upheld, there's no crime in opening a joint bank account that you can both throw into without being married, or even planning on marriage.

If you feel you need to set up a chore wheel or stick grocery receipts to the refrigerator, it's an indicator that you don't actually trust him to do his part. While you've been off-paper living together for a while now, I don't think you've had a fair chance to see what he's able and willing to do on his own. If he proves incompetent, negligent, or unwilling to contribute to any set of responsibilities, then you should bust out the cardstock and thumbtacks as a last resort before kicking the bastard out. But give yourselves a chance to see how your natural inclinations mesh.

1 comment:

Kim said...

I think you are right on all accounts. Most likely, we'll just see how things go for now and make changes as needed. I don't want to say "ok, you've moved in. Here are your chores." and I think if I just do what I've always done and specify when I want him to chip in, he will.

If I ask, he'll generally do it; he's not opposed to pitching in, and he does a good job of helping out (even before he moved in).

All the bills are in my name, so for now, I think he'll just be writing me a check for those, but perhaps we can figure out a way to tackle groceries and household items.

It's fun, this stuff. After the dust settles from the move (hopefully by the end of the month), maybe we'll just have a sit down and see who spent how much on what and how we want to approach it moving forward.

In all honesty, I just think he doesn't care that much. I know he's certainly not thinking/analyzing like I am! :)