July 19, 2017

The Great Compromise

Learning that to live with someone, you must live with them.

If you’d have told me a month ago that in a month’s time fees will have been paid and I’d very shortly be moving into a new place with my partner, I’d have looked at you with surprise: Where did that come from?

But about a month ago, as we were sitting in the local beer garden, sipping on our first beers of the early summer evening, conversation moved towards living situations. I asked whether she’d had any luck with online searches for a small place for herself. It was the same as usual: too expensive, too small, no shower. It wasn’t until her next comment that I detected a sign of things to come: It would be much cheaper living with another person. Of course, we both knew this, but it wasn’t until one of us came out and said it that I—and probably she also—decided to pursue the idea more seriously.

We skated around the issue for a few minutes before I plucked up the courage to ask her plainly: Would you want to consider moving into a place together? Being with my partner for less than a year, this felt like a difficult thing to ask. Gladly, she (being careful not to sound too eager herself) agreed that it would be well worth considering. Then, after another five minutes of discussing the benefits, we were determined: we’d immediately start looking for a one-bedroom place to share.

Fast-forward a month and here I am—or here we are—not quite moved in yet, but with initial fees paid to hold a place we’ve found which we both love. So while we’ve been out on the weekends looking for furniture, I’ve been imagining excitedly and a little unsurely where everything will go, what it’ll be like to live with a partner for the first time, and… then comes the big question: Will it be a problem that she isn’t a minimalist?

I haven’t always felt it easy to answer that question with a confident No. Having a mild case of OCD and having a keen eye for how I like a place to look in terms of aesthetics, design, practicality etc., I admit I was a little concerned that our slightly different outlooks on domestic living might clash somewhere down the line. But then I reminded myself: What is the one thing one must learn to accept when being—and especially living—with the person they love? Compromise.

Whole relationships are built on some degree of compromise. We live with it every day, whether we notice it or not—and it’s the healthiest thing we can do. It’s only by accepting compromise that we can be reminded of the necessity of a certain level of external, realistic and maybe even healthy imbalance in our lives: realizing that not everything can be how we want it to be all of the time. Love trumps this want for perfection. We see another, purer kind of perfection in these compromises. After all, how dull it would be if two people were exactly alike in their principles and all other minor preferences.

I don’t ask my partner to be a minimalist and I never will. I only ever asked her to think about it. And she has. What’s more is she’s even seen some of the benefits and has in her own small way started to be a little more ruthless in her approach to decluttering. I respect her decision not to take to minimalism fully, and she respects my own approach. We’re not alike in every way. And that is why I love her.

Published by Sam Howell in Lifestyle

Photography by Roman Kraft

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