I have a new roommate, and he’s driving me nuts. From the moment Karl moved in, things have been different. For instance, there has been more clutter around the bathroom sink, which we share, not to mention more beard trimmings. As I was staring at his sprawl recently, the thought came to me: Karl is preparing me for marriage, whether I like it or not.
As a point of contrast, my other roommate, Anders, is great. Anders and I were buddies in college and moved in together two years ago. We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve called the cops on our neighbors, we’ve been threatened by the same neighbor, we’ve probably kept Doritos in business between the two of us. To celebrate our two years of living together, we’re planning a Manniversary party.
But then there’s Karl. To his credit, Karl washes his dishes—for the most part. But he has this habit of splashing water everywhere when he does. And a number of the dishes he hand-washes don’t come out clean. He has finally figured out that you need to unwrap the detergent cartridges before putting them in the dishwasher. He still hasn’t figured out how to use our alarm system, as evidenced by him setting it off at 2:30 a.m. last week.
I could go on, but you get the picture. Living with Karl has been a big adjustment. And there have certainly been times when I thought back to those sunny days before he moved in, and maybe there’s a way to get him to leave? Surely I could find a better roommate. Maybe even convince Bubba to come back—although I’m not sure how his newlywed wife would feel about that.
No, I think I’m stuck with Karl. And you know what? It’s going to be okay. Because Karl is, actually, a great guy. Sure, he says some things that annoy me, but never intentionally, from what I can tell. In fact, I’m not sure he’s ever said a bad word about anyone. He’s positive, generous, and generally tries to make the most of whatever happens. He’s got a great girlfriend whom I love having around. We’ve got a lot in common, so we always have things we can talk about.
It strikes me that I am better off for this experience of living with roommates. Not only has it helped me become less selfish and more patient and thoughtful and all the rest, it’s also preparing me for marriage.
As much as I’m going to do my best to find the most attractive, kind, thoughtful, and conscientious woman around (not to mention clean and organized), I know that even from the first day we move in together there are going to be things that get on my nerves.
Those hairs Karl leaves around the sink? When I’m married they’re going to be not just in the sink, but everywhere, and they’re going to be ten inches long. Clutter in the bathroom? Ha! And then there’s the toilet seat issue.
Marriage is hard, or so I’m told. It’s going to be a temptation to think that the grass would be greener with another woman, or without any woman in such an intensely close relationship. And sure, there are compatibility issues to consider before taking the plunge, don’t get me wrong. But from what I can tell, the first step to living in harmony with someone else is mostly just getting over yourself.