I have been lucky enough now, to have been in a wonderful relationship for just over two years. We are, as a couple going from strength to strength and both see our long term future being together.
Now I am not writing this in order to brag, even though I feel a tad justified in doing so. The reality is, that rightly or wrongly our society expects relationships to progress in certain ways.
It is inevitable, that questions begin to emerge regarding the direction of your relationship and where it is heading in the long term. If I am honest I feel that it can be a healthy thing to be self appraising of your relationship.
For the most part this self appraising is quite simple, "Do I love my partner, Do I see us together for the long term and Am I happy?". I think we are all aware that open communication is crucial for any relationship and ensuring your expectations are the same is part of that communication.
Obviously for any long term relationship to work, you both need to be on the same page regarding your future together. Do you want to move in together, Do you wish to get married and even if you would like children together are all things that will need to be discussed.
All too often your family and friends will make assumptions based upon their own personal beliefs regarding these issues. Many will assume that you intend to marry or that you will move in together.
So it is vital that couples discuss these things with each other before facing the barrage of questions and expectations from friends and family. My partner and I have of course discussed such matters and found, not to our surprise, we are in total agreeance.
Even as someone in his 50's, it would appear that many, if not most people, assume our relationship goals would include cohabiting sooner rather than later. But in our case this is something which we are in no rush to be doing.
Make no mistake, I absolutely love spending every possible moment with the woman I love. Some of the best times as a couple are the little moments of domesticity, things like sitting together watching your favourite TV programs, eating breakfast together or sharing a mid afternoon coffee.
However, having your own homes does not mean you cannot share these wonderful moments together. In fact it makes the times you do so, all that more special, so by not living together we do not take these moments for granted.
We spend a lot of time together, weekends, some evenings and Public Holidays for instance and we make the most of those times. However the more mundane times, the times that we are not at our best or most sociable, we can spend in our own space.
As we both live alone, we have all the benefits of living alone, coupled with all the wonderful aspects of being in a loving relationship. We live about a 30 minute drive from each other so it is no issue to jump in the car to offer a hug or shoulder to cry on if needed or simply call in for a coffee and chat.
I do shift work with 12 hour shifts, when on days I wake at 4:40 am, when on nights I stumble into bed at 7:00am, long days such as this see me at best, non-sociable. As a teacher, Fi works at home most week nights and often until quite late.
Now because of my shift pattern, I can get away with being non-sociable on work days because I live alone and have a 6 day break between working weeks. Whereas Fi can work at home without feeling as if she is ignoring me and gives her the opportunity to focus on all her work tasks. This allows us to give our undivided attention to each other when we are together.
Neither of us are ignorant to the fact that from a fiscal perspective, living together and only paying one mortgage and set of household expenses makes a lot of sense. However, at least for now, this is of lesser importance than our building a relationship with a strong foundation and ensuring we will be spending the rest of our lives with each other.
So do not allow societal expectations to dictate how you conduct your relationship, instead do what you both feel is the right thing for you as a couple. And remember, when it comes to your living arrangements, the question may well be "Your place or mine?", but the answer may well be Both!
Divorced and nearly 50 I rediscovered who I was.