In relationships, there’s a huge grey area when it comes to personal belongings. Phone plans, pets, bills, bank accounts. All these things don’t seem complicated until the minute you decide to shack up with someone. I’ve been in a relationship for 4 years and I still have a nasty habit of saying “MY”… “Come to MY house”, “Check out MY dogs”, “I have to pay MY bills”… all the while knowing I’ve acquired these things WITH the boyfriend. Breaking this habit is critical if you want your own relationship to thrive. But what exactly constitutes united and divided?
Begin at the beginning. As much as it sucks to kill the romance, discussing what belongs to whom is necessary. You don’t have to be a nazi, but let’s talk pets for example. Toward the end of my marriage, my husband and I decided we wanted a dog. After the divorce, we came to an agreement that I would get visitation rights. Joint custody, if you will. A few months went by and a second dog was added to the equation. Realizing that both of us made the decision to adopt her, we upheld the custody arrangement and all was well. That is, until my ex decided it was time to move out of state. Now, the seemingly fair thing to do would be to divide the dogs equally. One would go with the ex, while the other stayed with me. The RIGHT thing to do was keep them together. But who did the dogs REALLY belong to? So being a bleeding heart, I put my selfishness aside, and off to Los Angeles they went. I was devastated. If I would’ve talked to my ex in the beginning, we would’ve been able to make a clearer decision about having pets in the first place.
Another great example is a joint bank account. I’ve never had one, but it seems the fair thing to do would be having separate accounts and then a “community pot” of sorts, where each party would contribute and funds would go toward vacations, emergency situations, and things that would be shared as a couple (furniture, housewares, sex toys, things of that nature). Upon splitting (such a cynic I am), the community pot would then be divided EQUALLY, to save the broken bond from any further head and heartache. *Divvying up said furniture, housewares, and sex toys is a whole other story, by the way. Sound complicated? Well it is.
Now, I’m not telling you to run off and start writing your name on the peanut butter, but think about it. If you’re a one car family and you pay the note, it only makes sense for your partner to pay for the insurance, gas, and service. Fair trade is what I like to call it. As cliche as it sounds, communication really is key here. Learn to pick your battles, be accountable, share, and most important, cover your ass! “What’s mine is yours” is a little tricky, but the more you work together as a mutually respectful team, the better your chances are for survival.
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