You should know by now that Roan and I moved out of his cousin’s house a little over a month ago to rent an apartment for ourselves. I know I’ve mentioned this countless times already, but I never really got around to sharing my thoughts and reasons for doing so until today. Today’s post may be a lengthy one, but I hope you stick around.
The Idea of Independence
Even prior to getting married, Roan and I had been talking about our future living arrangements. Earlier in our relationship, he mentioned that he hoped to get a 5-bedroom house that can accommodate a family of seven—that includes Roan, myself, his parents, and his three younger siblings. The idea seems to be on the practical side, but I didn’t take it seriously until we got engaged in 2011.
I have never lived away from home. Dad never allowed me to stay at a dormitory when I was in college, and instead enrolled me at a driving school. He gave me a brand new car (one that I eventually shared with my younger brothers) to take to school everyday, regardless if my class starts at 7 in the morning or ends at 9 o’clock. Roan, on the other hand, had been used to being independent (although living with his relatives) since he moved back to the US for good in 2005.
Towards our wedding in December 2013, we both agreed to live apart from our relatives in order to start fresh. My parents, who are advocates of family life, were very supportive of our decision. If you are familiar with the Filipino culture, you know that it is common to live with extended families. There are plenty of reasons for doing so, but the most typical is practicality.
Of course, it’s more convenient to live with one’s parents if both husband and wife are working, and a baby is involved. At least there’s someone (other than a nanny) to look after your child while you’re away. It’s also cheaper because you share with the entire household expenses. However, that’s the thing about my upbringing; I’m not comfortable with easy. My version of independence meant being able to do things single-handedly. My brothers and I grew up without a housemaid, so we’ve been trained to clean up after ourselves since we were little.
The Forthcoming Struggle
Roan and I had been in a 5-year long distance relationship (a year of marriage included) before we finally lived together. I’m not going to lie; the first few weeks since I got here in the US were, and remains to be, the toughest. On top of having to deal with jet lag was learning the ropes of cohabitation. My biggest challenge was living in with Roan’s relatives for the first time, knowing that I’ve never lived anywhere else but my family home.
We’ve both agreed to stay at Roan’s cousin’s house for a few weeks (months even) until we find an apartment to rent. We’re more than welcome to stay for as long as we want, but if you’re going to ask me then, I would’ve agreed to stay for no more than three months. Before I left, Mom and Dad reiterated the importance of trying to get along with Roan’s relatives, especially those we’re going to live with. I’m going to tell you this—it’s not easy.
Lifestyle here in the US, in general, is so much different than in the Philippines. Well, at least from what I’ve gotten used to. Most days, when Roan has left for work, I come down to the kitchen to get some breakfast. By this, I mean sifting through their fridge for leftovers from last night or hoping to at least find something Roan left for me to eat. Lunch time is different, though, because Roan’s auntie cooks, leaves the food on the kitchen counter, and it’s up to us to feed ourselves.
I don’t remember sharing a meal with anyone from the family at least once while we lived there. Everyone has been always on-the-go. Often times, I didn’t know if there’s someone else in the house other than their two old cats or Roan’s other cousin’s two dogs. Though no one’s watching my every move, I found it difficult to feel comfortable moving around their house, even if it meant doing the laundry or washing the dishes. These things didn’t help me overcome my homesickness; in fact, I yearned even more for home.
Until one day, I broke down.
The Ultimate Decision
If there’s one person who deserves to know whatever is going on with me, it’s my husband. One night, we were getting ready for bed when all of a sudden, I cried. It was the ugly kind of tears. Roan thought I was having one of those bout of homesickness, so he just hugged me and let me be. Fifteen, 30 minutes later, I wouldn’t stop. He started to freak out a little, so I eventually spoke up.
Please, let’s find an apartment already.
I don’t remember if those were my exact words, but without saying further, Roan knew, and he understood. As it turns out, he saw it coming. With his relatives’ current routine and lifestyle, he knew I’d eventually become weary. Roan has lived with my family for a maximum length of three months prior to and after the wedding, and that’s how he knew. He could tell the difference himself. The following day, and for an entire week, we started looking around for a new place to live in.
My reasons for finally wanting to have a space of our own sooner may seem superficial and selfish, but it’s worth noting that Roan and I have been married for a year and a half, and it’s only now that we’re truly living as newlyweds. We’re not rushing things, but we’re not getting any younger either. Sooner or later, we’ll start having a kid or two, and things will become more complicated. In the meantime, we want to make the most of our time together, and just enjoy each other’s company while we can.
Guess what? I’m so happy we made the decision.