Thursday, August 16, 2012

negotiation and priorities.

Bunny and I just had an interesting talk about our living situation and whether there were going to be upcoming changes to that. We were supposed to spend tomorrow scoping out some new apartments. That's been scrubbed from the agenda. The discussion is still ongoing, and I have a final veto card right now on how long our current situation is ok for.

You see, Bunny has this idea that if we stayed with my mom for a year we would in a position to buy a house at the end of it. He's probably right. I've had this thought myself, and I've run the numbers. He has some money in a retirement account that he is determined to use for a house and I've been beefing up our E Fund to start to include closing costs. His freelance gig brings in some very good money, even though both of our day jobs are on the lower ends of the pay scale. It's not unreasonable to think that we could save upwards of $20,000 in a year. We've done it before, albiet with very different income sources, and with the lack of housing expenses we can easily pull this out of the hat.

Given the commuter town we live in and the housing prices here we could potentially have a 20% down payment in a year's time. (20% is the minimum I feel comfortable with, and that's nonnegotiable. I won't buy a house I don't feel I can afford, and if we can't get our downpayment up there I don't have confidence that we can pay it off long term.)
We have a lot to think about with this. Whether it makes sense. How it fits in with our other prioritites, because some of those don't fit well with living at my mom's. Does the financial sense also make emotional sense? Are we going to go crazy without having our own space? Are we ok with giving up the independence of living alone? Are we rushing into too many fast decisions this year with all the bullshit that's gone down?

We're leaving this as a "to discuss later" issue. We decided that we'd cool our heels on the apartment search for now, because we can always start again if there's a pressing need. We'll re-evaluate this is a couple of months.

It's got me thinking about the nature of a long term committed relationship. (I'd love to say about the nature of marriage, but we haven't quite finalized that yet). Long term relationships are an exercise in negotiation. In checking in with your partner and making sure your values and priorities still line up, trying to adjust things so that if things favoured one person for a period of time that the other person's needs are put first later. In standing up for your needs and desires and compromising on them.

Priorities don't always line up. Bunny puts a very high priority on his hunt trips; I could care less about hunting and I'm not interested in vacation that's essentially time away from me. What I do prioritize, though, is Bunny's happiness and ability to explore his independent hobbies which means that sometimes, I need to say "Ok, go drive up north and roll around in deer urine". He has to compromise too, sometimes by spending less time up there on a trip, or by cutting out a visit entirely, or even just (just!) by making an 8 hour drive to pick me up so I can spend a couple days with him while he's being all manly man.

Right now, Bunny's feeling like home ownership is a big priority for him - he's looking at the long term independence and the comfort and stability of setting up our own home. My priorities are skewing a little differently: I want to make sure our living situation doesn't damage my relationship with my mother (we don't historically live well together, although we're doing well right now), I want the independence of living on our own, and there's some things I really want to do to grow our baby family. The priorities all work together - we're both thinking about a future that makes us happy, having our own space and independence. The specifics just don't all line up. So we have to figure out a way to align our priorities for that.
Life in a relationship in general may be one big long, ongoing negotiation. Checking in to see where the other lies on one aspect of life that hasn't been discussed recently, recalibrating things when they've gone off course, and letting each other know when our internal priorities move. (We are all human, we can change our minds and our priorities.)

My question for you: what have been your biggest points of negotiation and compromise in your relationship? How do you make seemingly opposite values line up?

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