Roadblocks and Relationships

Last month I wrote about some plans for a new blog focused on co-housing and multi-family living, and even asked you all to weigh in on a name – remember that?
Well I’ve been working on it, but that project may be a bit longer in coming to fruition than anticipated.

Originally, when all of us decided to move into this house together, we made an initial commitment to try it out until June. Over the past few weeks we’ve been evaluating our experience so far and sorting out some important things in our relationships and communication. Right now, we’re still waiting to decide if we’re ready to commit to another year together, and are planning to decide toward the end of the summer.

This is a difficult thing to write about because it involves very personal feelings, and I don’t want to compromise anyone’s privacy or trust. But mainly it’s difficult because it feels like an admission of failure. If I detailed every conversation that the four of us have had so far, it wouldn’t actually be very interesting or scandalous. It would be ordinary. The extreme humanness is the hard part.

A few weeks ago, I finally started to admit that there were a few areas in which I kept allowing resentment to build up without ever addressing the issues directly. I thought I could, and should, just ‘get over it’ – that if I were patient enough, or kind enough, or loving enough I would never be annoyed or hold a grudge or become bitter. Maybe that is true, but who is actually patient, kind, and loving enough? Nobody that I know, this side of the grave.

I tried to avoid having difficult conversations with others by having circular conversations with myself, instead. I would sternly lecture my disgruntled self on the importance of generosity, forgiveness, longsuffering, selflessness – insert character quality here – and then that self would start replying with accusations and defenses of my own and others’ actions until my thoughts and emotions were whirling around in a convoluted mess. I felt defeated in my attempts to love others, and my frustrations would live on – sometimes being beaten back for a few days before cropping right back up.

As I have started to admit the areas I’ve been struggling in, it’s been exciting to see things change and often be resolved. A few times I have been surprised to learn that a false assumption or two on my part had led to hours of frustration, all for nothing – if I had actually asked about the issue as soon as it came up, I would have known all along that there was nothing to worry about.

That’s not always the case, though. We decided to change our whole grocery buying system in large part due to my perception that our old system was unfair. It is embarrassing to admit that. But it is true. I wish I could just get over it, but after trying to do just that for a long time, it simply wasn’t working. It doesn’t mean that I won’t still have plenty of opportunity to grow in grace and love, but admitting that I just couldn’t ‘get over it’ in this circumstance was necessary, I think. Basically, I’m still trying to figure out the balance between hoping and intending to grow, and honestly acknowledging my very real limits and weaknesses, and arranging some boundaries to help me resist the temptation to harbor resentment.

By finally starting to actually talk openly about these things, we’ve been making progress. But it is hard. It is surely healthier than keeping quiet and letting things fester, but no more comfortable, most of the time.


This is my first time reading your blog & I've really enjoyed it! In the almost 4yrs that my husband & I have been married, we've co-lived w/ people 3 times! All have been short-term and for different reasons (saving $, helping a family member). I especially appreciated your honesty in this blog b/c in the most recent co-living experience, I had a very difficult time not harboring resentment regularly. Our situation was a little different in that it was more of a "we'll help you get back on your feet" situation and we experienced alot of demands, rather than thankfulness from the other party. That was difficult. Really though, I just posted to say I really enjoy your blog and your openness!

Alexis said…
Thanks, Theresa! It sounds like you have a lot more experience than we do.

One of my goals is to start being a little more open about things like this in order to provide some encouragement as well as a little reality check.

I'm so glad you stopped by!

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