Playing House

I never played house as a child. If the friends I had wanted to play house, I’d go back home. I’ve always done what I wanted to do…part of being an only child. Playing house was in no way fun to me. I disliked the stereotypes that go into playing house. I’m not the girl you’ll catch trying to please her husband after coming home with a fresh hot meal on the table by 5pm. I’m the girl that would rather be at the gym at 5pm after a long day’s work. I’m the girl that dislikes cooking and has a fiance that does enjoy cooking so he does most of the cooking. Playing house was never my thing as a kid.

After graduating college in 2003, I moved back in with my parents. I went to school about three hours away from my parent’s house at Indiana University, Bloomington. I didn’t have a job lined up after graduation and had no money saved up, so I wound up moving back with mom and dad. I lived with them for a year and 6 months. I met and started dating Pete during this time which greatly upset my parents. When I stayed over at his house one night, they decided that I needed to make a choice…either move in with Pete or stay living with them. I’d had enough of living with mom and dad and I was young and rebellious so I chose to move in with someone I barely knew. Pete and I had been dating for three months at that point.

When I told my grandmother about my decision she told me she didn’t really approve of my choice but she supported me no matter what. She’s never judged me for it. My grandma was 72 years old at the time and grew up in an era where you were married before you moved in with your husband. It was taboo in the time she grew up in to live with your man before marriage. While she voiced her opinion, she did so in a non-judgmental way. She would’ve been the first person I thought that would’ve judged us for living together before marriage and she turned out to be the last.

I went to the symphony in LaPorte one night with my friend and her fiance shortly after I’d moved in with Pete. My friend and her fiance were about to be married in a few months. She asked me how things were going with my family and Pete. She knew the particulars of my situation. I told her I had chosen to move in with him. I remember asking her if she and her fiance were living together, and here was her response, “Oh no, we’re Catholic and we don’t believe in playing house.”

I was very taken aback by her comment. All I could really say was, “Oh, okay.” Not the most appropriate response but it was the best I could muster at the time. It was one of those situations that you can’t come up with the words to say at the moment, and later on you go back in your mind and think, “Darn it, this is what I should’ve said to her.” My friend and I are only 6 months apart in age, give or take a few days and at the time we were between the ages of 22 to 23 years of age.

Like I said, my friend is Catholic, and she practices Catholicism full-time. She’s not a part-time Catholic. I really give her credit for that. The rules and laws that Catholicism dictates you live by are tough to do in today’s society. They require a lot of discipline and self-control. There are lot of people out there who claim to be Catholic and don’t follow the laws of Catholicism: not using birth control, no sex before marriage, etc. Those are tough things to do, and I think it’s very commendable that she has been able to live her life that way. That’s the belief she subscribes to. I was raised as a Catholic, but I don’t call myself a Catholic. I don’t believe in all of the practices of the church and will never return to the religion. I do believe Catholicism teaches a lot of good things and also believe that a lot can be learned from some of the teachings of the Commandments, etc.

The way she said those words to me felt like a judgment at the time. It could’ve just been she was young, like me, and said it in a tone or way that she didn’t mean. She may also not have meant it to sound judgmental at all and I just took it that way. I don’t hold it against her because it’s something she really believed in and I respect her for that. Do I think she should’ve voiced her opinion that way? No, I don’t. It’s in the past and I can’t change it. But she does bring up an interesting topic of discussion: Is living with your significant other and “playing house” before marriage a good idea?

My mother always told me that you should really get to know someone before you marry them. You should have a long engagement with the person because you’re going to be with them for the rest of your life (assuming you follow the marriage vows: to death do you part). In the beliefs I subscribe to, my mother was right.

I lived with Pete for 6 years. Finances soured our relationship and made it to where we mutually wanted to part ways for a while. We didn’t have to go through a divorce. Our lives were intertwined in a way that allowed us to get to know each other while living together but not so committed that we still had options if things went badly. Once you’re married, that’s it. You’re married. The only way out is a divorce. If you’re Catholic then you don’t believe in divorce. The Catholic church frowns on divorce. I do as well. I believe when you take those marriage vows you are committing our life fully to another person until death do you part.

I feel a lot of Catholics rush to the altar to get married so that the can engage in the more fun aspects of a fully romantic relationship. For instance, I don’t see how you can know you want to spend the rest of your life with someone when you’ve known/dated them for a year, been engaged for 6 months, and you only see them for a few hours a day and maybe you take some Pre-Cana classes together. Then suddenly you move in together and that’s it. The rest of your life will be spent with someone you don’t really know.

Living with Pete helped me to get to know the person that I know and love today. While we were broken up, I moved out for a few months. It was a really sad time. However, the time apart was good for our relationship. Being apart helped us get some clarity. Not being married gave us the opportunity to be apart and get that clarity that we needed. It’s hard to get clarity when the person you’re having problems with is there every night when you get home.

Pete and I wouldn’t be planning our marriage today if we hadn’t been afforded the opportunity of “playing house”, breaking up and getting a different perspective on things. “Playing house” turned out to be a good thing for us. You really do get to know someone and decide how really feel about things by living together before committing yourself to them fully for the rest of your.

So “play house” or don’t “play house”…it’s your decision that you have to make for yourself. People may support you or they may judge you. And you may be surprised by who that person is. It may not be your 70 year old grandma. It just may be your 23 year old friend. People always surprise me. It’s part of life. Live your life the way you want to. Don’t follow the stereotypes that society dictates. The most important thing is to be happy despite what anyone else thinks.



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