When I was planning the move to Tasmania, Mark and I decided we would stay in his current living situation and find a place together once I arrived in Launceston. The house of roommates worked for a few weeks, but we were definitely anxious to move into our own place and be a real cohabiting couple. The search for an affordable apartment/house was frustrating, and we were glad when Mark's friend offered his investment property to us. It was everything we had on our list: in "town," electric heater (most places we saw advertised had a wood burning fireplace), washing machine, furnished, clean, all kitchen appliances included (a lot of people rent properties without a stove or refrigerator), and semi-affordable. We moved into the one bedroom unit as soon as it was available.
It was a huge change for both Mark and me. We hadn't been together in over a year, and suddenly we were living in a small apartment. We bickered over little things like how to grocery shop and how to clean. We have since agreed that my way in those particular areas are best. I have to give credit to Mark. I am a little stubborn and like things a particular way. For example, I think kitchen counters must be cleared and cleaned at all times and laundry shouldn't stay in a laundry basket overnight. He is very patient with me and my tendencies. AND I'm learning to not sweat the small stuff. Of course I'd never stack the dishes the way he stacks the dishes, but he did do the dishes so I shouldn't say anything. Right? Right.
Over our one year long distance relationship situation, we learned how to effectively communicate with one another, and it has helped us in this cohabitation process. If we're doing something to annoy/upset one another, we're pretty quick to identify the problem and ask each other for what we need. I try and be vocal and very specific about what he needs to stop doing or something he needs to do more. For instance, it was driving me nuts when he would talk to me from another room. So I told him to please not do that because I couldn't hear him clearly and it was annoying. He doesn't do it much anymore, and when he does I sometimes pretend I don't hear him. I really should be nicer. Another example is when I first got to Launceston, Mark would scarf his dinner down and then grab his phone for texting/gaming/reading. It drove me bonkers and hurt my feelings, because "Hi! I'm still eating and you should talk to me and pay attention to me!" Well, I pointed it out, we talked about it, and now it doesn't happen anymore. He still eats his food in half the time it takes me to eat though. Anyway, my point is that he is someone who I am able to be open and honest without worrying he'll reject me or something else irrational. He has seen my crazy side and accepts it. He doesn't even think I'm too demanding, which is great! I've realized I'm too quick to yell sometimes and/or can be condescending. I'm working on that too, because I don't want to make him feel crappy because I'm a crappy communicator. The bottom line is we both know what each other needs and make those things important.
Did I think I'd move to another country for a boyfriend? No. But it has been a great growing experience thus far. We still have a lot to learn about one another and will continue growing together. Overall, I am glad I moved for love.
Here is a first take video of our little loveshack. Email/viber/facebook me if you have decorating ideas.