Four years ago, when I met the man I am married to today, I was living in a 600 square foot cottage in the center of town. It had a living room that my sofa wouldn’t fit in, a dining “space” big enough for a table to seat two, a kitchen with a two-burner stove and two bedrooms—one of which I swear was euphemistically referred to as a bedroom, as no bed for an adult size person would fit in it.
I had moved from a 2,000+ square foot home and managed to squeeze everything I needed, which was a lot less than everything I owned, into my little cottage. There wasn’t a single inch of wall space that didn’t have a picture on it, a shelf in the kitchen that didn’t have a dish on it, or any kind of anything whatsoever to put anything whatsoever on it in the bathroom. In fact, when I sat on the toilet, my knees hit the bathtub.
In order to save space I even had all the interior doors taken off all of the rooms.
Obviously, I hadn’t counted on company.
My husband is not a big guy. By that I mean, while he’s over six feet tall, he’s not a guy that takes up a lot of space. The first night he slept with me, he took his clothes off and folded them neatly on the foot stool in my bedroom—and that’s where he put his clothes, folded in exactly the same way—for the entire time we lived there together before we finally moved.
From the beginning I appreciated how he respected my little cottage and the way I lived in it. I noticed how he would get up in the morning before me and—in a kitchen that definitely had room for only one person at a time—wash the dishes and crawl back into bed for an extra cuddle before I had to get up myself. I liked how he quietly, without being asked, put the trash out, and how he left his shoes, laundry and extra clothes back at his own house without cluttering up mine.
One night, after a few weeks of his overnight stays, when I opened the medicine cabinet in the bathroom, I found a new package of dental floss on the shelf.
“David?” I asked. “Is this your dental floss?”
“No,” he said. “It’s ours. “We were out.”
We? We were out of dental floss.
How endearing it was, the way I learned that he thought of us as, “we.”
And how demonstrative of what a homebody he was.
A few months before I’d met David a man I had been “seeing” came over for a visit.
“I could never live here,” he said. “I’m a big man. I need a lot of space.”
I swear, he actually puffed up his “big man’s” chest when he said it. Funny thing is that this man and David are actually just about the same size.
But David isn’t the kind of guy who thinks of himself as needing a lot of space. Especially when that space is already mine and he’s just sharing it.
It’s not that he thinks he’s a guy who should disappear into the woodwork either. Don’t get me wrong.
He’s just—well, he’s just respectful.
David and I lived in that 600-square-foot house for 18 months. Even he calls it the “nest out of which our love grew” and whenever we drive through that neighborhood, he goes down the street the cottage is on and says something akin to, “There’s our little nest.”
When my daughters were little they would say things to me like, “But how do you know when you’re in love, Mommy?” Or, as they grew older, “What are the things you should look for in a man, Mom?”
We still laugh at my answer: “Marry a man who can drive a 4-speed pickup truck and who takes the trash out.”
“Great advice, Mom,” they’d tell me sarcastically.
But it pretty much covers all the bases and today, while I wouldn’t change it, I would maybe add two things to it:
1) Marry a man who can drive a 4-speed pickup truck. (These trucks aren’t usually expensive to repair and are indicative of a practical personality.)
2) Marry a man who takes the trash out. (It’s a stinky, yet persistent job that takes commitment.)
3) Marry a man who doesn’t feel like he needs a lot of space. (A man who feels like he needs a lot of space isn’t going to respect the fact that he is sharing that space with you—equally—even though you are probably not the same size as him.)
4) Marry a man who buys dental floss for us. (This is a man who pays attention to details and understands that it is the little things that turn two individuals into a couple.)
Author: Carmelene Siani
Editor: Travis May