What no one told me about living together

Justin and I have been dating for (almost) six years. Three of those have been spent under the same roof — first in a 900 sq. ft., one bedroom apartment then a two-story townhouse with enough room for us to expand our little family. By “expand” I mean adopt another dog. That was MY plan, anyway.

I had no fears before we moved in together. I felt like I knew him in every possible way a person can know somebody. I knew his routines, his quirks, his pet peeves. Everything. I thought this meant that I was prepared to live with him, and for the most part knowing all these things about Justin did make the transition into cohabitation easier and less scary.

However, there is one thing I didn’t discover until about a year into this whole sharing an address thing. It’s something no one warned me about when it comes to sharing space with a fella; something so basic I’m a little embarrassed it didn’t occur to me beforehand. You should ask — but don’t have to if you’re a boss-ass lady like myself — before doing something that’s going to greatly impact your partner’s life as much as yours. Hypothetically speaking, something like bringing home another animal. And when you don’t ask before you, hypothetically, bring a pet home, your partner gets angry.

Let’s be honest. Two years ago I found a kitten in the parking lot at my place of employment. He was a cute cat and was clearly hungry, so I scooped him up, put him in a box and he made the one hour journey home with me that evening. Justin’s jaw hit the floor when I walked through the front door with a kitten in a box. He couldn’t believe that I casually brought home an animal I found in a parking lot like it was no big deal.

That’s when he realized I’m capable of anything and everything.

Caddy says: "I'm not too sure about this new creature, mom. Is it a toy?"

A post shared by Dammit, Hali Blog (@halidawnledford) on

 

After many failed attempts at unloading this kitten on someone else, we decided to keep him. We named him Brutus and he made himself comfortable in our home.

We already had a dog, which was mine before Justin and I even started dating. So, there we were, a Kodak-moment little family with our dog and cat. I felt like something was missing, though, and it was probably a year ago when I realized what exactly we needed to feel complete. I was at PetSmart picking up food for our animals one Saturday while Justin was working and the store coincidentally was hosting an adoption event with a local rescue. I locked eyes with the sweetest little puppy face and instantly knew this is what our family needed.

I approached one of the rescue’s volunteers, got more information on the adoption process and began filling out the application. Then I remembered Justin’s words from after I found Brutus, “Please, don’t bring home any more animals without talking to me first.” Because I’m a decent partner, I did the semi-right thing and called him to let him know I found a puppy and was going to adopt it. He begged me to just wait for him, and again, because I’m a decent partner, I agreed to let him see the puppy first.

When he got home that night I showed him all the pictures I had and read him all the information on the rescue. He said he needed time to think about it, so I gave him time. He took too much time, though, and my sweet little puppy was adopted before Justin could make a decision.

I kept an eye on that particular rescue. It wasn’t long before they had another litter that I instantly fell in love with. They were a chocolate lab/husky mix and were gorgeous. I stalked this rescue because I knew they had adoption events at the PetSmart near our house each Saturday. It was a very calculating move on my part, but that’s kind of how I operate.

Keeping up with Justin’s request that I ask before bringing home pets, I sent him the link to look at these pups. He agreed they were good looking dogs, which I took to mean, “Oh, let’s get one.” My exact words to him were, “This rescue is having an adoption event at PetSmart on Saturday. If these puppies are there, we’re getting one.” Of course, I knew they would be there.

Saturday came and the pups were snuggled up in their playpen together when we got to the adoption event. I took one look at them, fell in love and turned to Justin and asked if he wanted to get a boy or a girl. I was so devastated when he told me we weren’t getting one that I stormed out of the store and refused to speak to him for the rest of the day.

Something new I discovered: Even if you respect you partner’s wishes and ask them before doing something life altering, it doesn’t mean they will say yes to what you want.

My heart ached. I didn’t mention puppies for a long time after that.

He did have a good reason for not wanting another dog, especially a big dog, at that point, and I realize that now. It really wasn’t logical to keep a lab/husky mix in our tiny apartment.

Therefore, when we moved into our townhouse in May last year, some of the first words out of my mouth were, “We have room for another dog, now.”

I didn’t press the issue, though. Well, until Christmas. I laid it on thick during the month of December and fully expected a dog in my stocking. Nope. Justin didn’t get the hint.

After weeks of annoying the piss out of him about a puppy, he finally told me on Christmas Eve that we could get one. I’m not saying that I told him, “It’s either a baby or a dog, you pick,” but, yes, that is what happened.

I spent the week after Christmas searching the Internet for the perfect pup. Then, on a rainy Saturday afternoon between Netflix and snacking, I decided to take one more glance at Craigslist. That’s when I found our new baby. I excitedly took a screenshot of the post and sent it to Justin. I was already in love with these little faces and knew one of them had to be mine. When Justin didn’t respond within the hour, I told him I was going to text the person about the puppies. He replied to that immediately and asked me to wait. So, I did.

When he got home that night he said he wanted to think about it some more. I did get discouraged at dinner when Justin hadn’t given me any indication on what he was thinking. My overreacting self assumed he was going to do what he did before and tell me he didn’t think it was a good time to get a dog. Angrily, I said, “Just forget about it. You never want to do anything if it’s not your idea. And you never think it’s a good time for anything. We’re going to be waiting our entire lives for things to happen because you’re never ready.” Things got awkward and silent after that.

One more thing I’ve learned since moving in together: I miss my mom more than ever. Since leaving my childhood home and making a home with Justin, the desire to call my mom and vent to her about all the thinks that piss me off about Justin has been overwhelming. Yes, I can talk to my dad and my best friend, but mothers and daughters have a special bond and being able to call your mom when things get rough is an important part of life. I wanted so bad to be able to talk to my mom about all of my feelings after Justin’s and my conversation Saturday night. But, I couldn’t, so I just stayed angry, and perhaps I became even angrier when I couldn’t call my mom to dispel my frustrations.

I let Justin think about it until the next morning, though, then took matters into my own hands and told him I was contacting the woman. He said OK.

That evening, which was Sunday, we drove 40 minutes north-ish to look at the two puppies my new friend had left. As soon as she hopped out of her pick-up truck with these tiny, 5-week-old balls of black fur, my heart melted. After some polite conversation and finding out some more information about the litter, I picked out which pup I wanted.

On the way home, Justin, who was beaming ear-to-ear, thanked me for not bringing home another pet without talking to him first.

You’re welcome.

 

Our baby spent another week with her mama before we brought her home to begin our new life as a family of five. She is healthy and happy and is adjusting well to her new siblings.

And that’s the story of how I asked, and asked, and asked and finally got what I want. Justin is happy that I included him on the decision and I’m happy to finally have this little life in our home. Ask me in two months if I’m still pleased with this decision.

I guess living together is just a never-ending learning process with random challenges you never imagine until you’re faced with them, and I guess I’ve learned a lot more than I expected to in the three years since Justin and I moved in together — a lot more than anyone could ever warn me about.

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