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The Tomato Nation advice column addresses your questions on etiquette, grammar, romance, and pet misbehavior. Ask The Readers about books or fashion today!

Home » The Vine

The Vine: October 8, 2008

Submitted by on October 8, 2008 – 10:37 AM34 Comments

Dear Sars,

Four years ago, I moved into an apartment with my cousin, signing a month-to-month agreement.The rent was $1000, $500 each, plus utilities that we also split evenly.

In February 2007, my cousin started dating a guy who more or less moved into the apartment.He spent every single night at our place, even on nights when she wasn't here — she went away for a weekend to a bachelorette party and he still stayed at my apartment.He showered here, did his laundry here, cooked here, used the grill, etc.He was actually unemployed for most of the winter, and stayed in our apartment while my roommate and I were at work all day, running up our electricity bill and whatnot.

After about six months of this, I began to question why he wasn't paying rent at our place, or at least chipping in for utilities or shared household items (detergent, toilet paper, etc.).The story I got was that he was locked into a lease and bills at another apartment and couldn't afford to be paying us.For the next six months, I asked many times about what arrangements might possibly be made to fix the situation, such as subletting his room in the other apartment, asking his roommate to find a new roommate, or asking his landlord for out of the lease.

Long story short, I was strung along for a while, and made to believe that solutions were being worked on but they never came to fruition for various reasons.I was also told that my cousin and her boyfriend couldn't spend some of their time at his apartment because someone else was staying in his room there.Even though I was extremely annoyed by the situation, in the interest of not causing a family feud I let things go on as they were.

In February 2008, released from his prior lease, the boyfriend "officially" moved in with us.Instead of telling the landlord (we were worried she'd raise the rent), my roommate and I kept sending her $500 checks each month, and the boyfriend paid us each $167 in cash, so in the end everyone was paying one third of the rent.

I give you this backstory to color the situation I'm writing to ask you about.For a variety of reasons, I've decided to move to another apartment, effective the first of next month.I notified my landlord and my roommates halfway through last month.They have decided to stay here, taking on the $1000 rent.I did not send my landlord a check for October, because back when we moved in four years ago, I'd paid her for my last month's rent — $500.My cousin's boyfriend still hasn't paid me his $167 for this month.

He's been late to pay me before, but he usually says something about it, and he hasn't so far.I am starting to suspect that he thinks he doesn't have to pay me because I paid my last month's rent when I moved in.Does that make sense to you?Of course, from my perspective this month is sort of "free" since the money I spent four years ago is long gone from my bank account.But we both live here this month, and I paid, and my cousin paid, so shouldn't he?

Things have been a little tense around here since I told them I was leaving (they think I didn't give them enough notice), so before I start World War III over $167, I'd like an outside perspective.



Dear Room,

Decide which is more important to you: trying to drive the point home one last time that the boyfriend is responsible for his share of the rent (won't work anyway), or keep the peace and let him get by with shorting you (as you've trained him to do all along).

I'd just let it go at this point; I doubt you'll find yourself living with these people again, so trying to teach the boyfriend a lesson about his responsibilities (or get him to make up for all the partial rent he should have paid in the past) won't do you much good.Decide for yourself that, in the future, you won't let this kind of thing continue without consequences again, but this isn't worth pursuing.

Dear Sars,

I've been happily married for two years now. The two of us are very similar in many ways, particularly when it comes to socializing: we both have a small circle of very close friends (most of whom live far away), we are both happiest socializing in small groups, and we both value our time alone. Until we got married and moved in together, we had both lived alone for at least 10 years and been completely happy with that situation.

Since we've been married, finding time alone has been quite a challenge. On rare occasions it will happen naturally (one or the other will travel for work or spend an evening with a friend), but that isn't satisfying either of us. We were talking about the issue recently and concluded that in an ideal world, we'd both spend at least one entire day and night per week alone. A couple of hours is better than nothing, but it kind of feels like you're just sinking into it and then it's over.

The problem is that we can't think of a practical way to get the extended, regular time alone we need. We live in a one-bedroom apartment, work the same hours (non-negotiable), and as I mentioned, most of our close friends don't live within easy travel distance. Since we can't afford a hotel room twice a week, and also can't afford to move to a larger place (expensive city), we've hit a wall.

And I admit that the wall is presenting slightly more of a problem for me than for him. He'd probably be okay with adjusting and taking what time we can, while I feel quite desperate for not-just-occasional time alone. Like, to the point that I'm writing to people for help. If we could financially manage it I'd even float the idea of separate apartments. I know that sounds extreme, but I LOVED having my own space, and up in my head there's an ideal world where married couples can still have that. Most people I talk to think that's nuts but whatever.

So, I guess I thought maybe some of your readers might have some suggestions. And, honestly, I've enjoyed reading your site and your advice for so long that I'm thrilled to have something to ask!


Dear Loner,

I suspect that my readers will probably tell you what I'll tell you: that if what you want is more space or separate spaces, you'll have to change something to make that happen.Get a higher-paying job, or one where you can work nights; move to a different, cheaper city; alter the physical layout of the apartment somehow so that it's two tiny bedrooms instead of one.

Or get divorced.Or one of you moves out.

I don't think what you want is nuts, at all.I love my family, I love my friends, I love my boyfriend…I need my space, and come the day I get married, I will require my own room, even if it's a windowless former closet.There's a cultural ideal, I think, a snapshot of happy togetherness that doesn't account for the fact that not everyone wants that all the time, or even most of the time.It's not a majority view, but why pretend you're something you're not?

The problem here is the when and the how.You didn't really come to the conclusion that you'd both prefer regular, scheduled alone time until after you'd gotten married, which isn't surprising, but isn't ideal, either — and you want a solution while telling me in the same breath that anything I'd suggest is off the table.Again, I feel you on the wanting your own space and "me time," but wanting it two years into a marriage is more problematic.

Well, you'll need to put it back on somehow: find a creative solution within the current circumstances, or change the circumstances to suit yourself.Would people find it odd if you and your husband maintained separate residences?Yes, some people probably would.Who cares?There's always someone who's going to find something odd; you don't owe them an explanation.If you have kids, is the separate-homes thing going to work?Not as well, no; you'd have to find a bigger place with more discrete spaces and work it out that way.

Think about moving to a less expensive town, or neighborhood, so you can have a two-bedroom or larger; write up an exhaustive list of ways you could make this work, no matter how outlandish or impossible.But understand that it will take an effort.You should probably have discussed this prior to getting married, and you've made certain choices — including the marriage itself — that tend to rule out most of your options here.Not all realities can co-exist, not every compromise is makeable, and you may need to decide, in the short term at least, that your marriage is more important to you than your space.

I read The Vine every day and love your advice, and I'm hoping you and/or your readers can give me some advice on this.

When I got married, I took my husband's name. I was really young and my career was just starting to take off, and I published several technical papers.

Five years after I got married, I got tired of the emotional and physical abuse and divorced his ass. It was a long, horrible ordeal, complete with rumor-spreading and stalking and being abandoned by most of my friends. Because it was so traumatic, I did not take my maiden name back. I know that sounds counterintuitive, but I'm a consultant with a fairly large customer base, and I didn't want to hear "oh, did you get married?" and have to bring up my divorce every day for months on end.

…at the time. I'm in a much better place emotionally now than I was then, so I can mention it without getting teary-eyed. So I'd like to change my name back now. It's a hassle, of course, with the Social Security and the bank accounts and everything, but it's worth it to me to erase any remaining links I have to my asshole ex.

So here's my question: what do I do about the technical papers? They're published under my married name. How do I account for that? It looks awfully weird if a resume has one name at the top and another name in the publications section, doesn't it? I'm afraid the answer is to just go by my maiden name in my personal life and stay Mrs. Asshole in my professional life, and I'm REALLY hoping that there's another option.

Thanks in advance for any advice you (or your readers) can offer!

I Should Have Just Kept My Maiden Name In The First Place

Dear Maiden,

It's not 1908; most people, seeing two different names on a résumé, would probably just assume that one is your maiden name and one is your married name, and anything else they assume is not really your problem.

A note next to each relevant paper in the publications section, along the lines of "published as 'Firstname Asshole,'" should take care of it.No doubt this comes up on résumés all the time, and isn't considered "awfully weird" by anyone who understands that women often change their names after a marriage or divorce.

If anyone asks: "I finally got around to going back to my maiden name," subject change, done.

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  • Bronte says:

    Loner. I love my fiancee but I understand what you mean about time apart, though not to the extreme. We each have evening activities to take us out of the house.
    On Mondays I have choir and he has space at home.
    On Tuesday he has gaming and I have my space.
    Since it is a regular thing I anticipate it and revel it in. As soon as he is gone I am mentally in my alone time since I have anticipated it. I get grouchy if he works late and doesn't go out on a Tuesday.

    Maybe having something regualarly scheduled would help for it to be 'usable' alone time.

    You say you can't afford hotel rooms twice a week. But couldn't you take turns to have your alone time away from the house? Say at a hotel, then you only have to pay for it once.

  • Melissa says:

    LW1 made me sit back in my office chair and really think about how my marriage might be different if we hadn't been lucky enough to buy a big suburban house years ago. I don't even share a bathroom with my adorable (but splashy) husband–the thought of occupying a one-bedroom apt. with him gives me heart palpitations….

    We weren't made to live on top of each other. Get a bigger place. And give the issue of having kids a LOT of thought–cause once you start having them, your emotional world gets a whole lot bigger, but you quite literally will not be able to take a solitary poo without company until they start school….

  • Another Sarah says:


    I'd suggest that each of you get out of the house on your own on occasion; you don't have to have friends to do that. Many parks and museums are free (if $ is an issue), and coffee shops have low rent (cup of coffee). Maybe the time out doing stuff on your own would give you some of your alone time, but it would certainly give the one of you staying home some of that. Each of you could commit to doing this for the other…part of your give and take.

    Also, I wondered reading your letter if your need for "alone" time is not also a need for "just me" time versus the "us" time you are constantly faced with in your marriage and small apartment. So even doing activities that are about just you and possibly involve others not your spouse vs. you and the spouse might help this claustrophobic feeling you seem to have…just a thought.

    Be creative and giving.

  • Jaime says:


    Lots of people in my field are in your situation. I've found that they simply make a quick mention at the beginning of a conference presentation or in a footnote to a new article or book indicating that they have published as "FirstName ExName" or "FirstName MaidenName ExName," and no one gives it another thought. I imagine that they do exactly the same thing on their resumes, as Sars suggests.

  • Kristin I says:

    I agree with Sars re: the resume. I see it handled that way all the time. On mine, for example, I list my publications in chronlogical order with most recent first, and when I first get to those with my different name, I just add a bolded line that states simply:

    "As K. R. OldLastName:"

    and then continue the list.

  • cv says:

    I second the idea of regular evening activities. It's not a full day alone, but it's a definite step up from what you're doing now. Each of you should take a class, join a book group, start going to religious services once a week if you don't already, or something. That gives the other person a few hours alone each week, and it also helps reduce the problem that Another Sarah is getting at. Too much time with one person can be stifling, no matter how much you love him or her.

  • Rinaldo says:

    Adding on to "Another Sarah": In addition to parks, museums, coffee places: libraries! Public libraries (and most university ones) are open to anybody who cares to walk through the door, have browsing areas with comfy chairs, and offer miles of books and magazines to get lost in. I've often found that a weekend afternoon, or weekday evening, spent indulging myself in a library counts as rejuvenating away-from-it-all time for me.

  • KTB says:


    My fiance and I faced this situation when I moved in with him almost two years ago. He had lived alone for years and wasn't totally prepared to be sharing his space as much as I was, having lived exclusively with roommates. He's also very similar to you and needs time alone, whereas I really don't.

    Our solution? I got into grad school and have class two to three nights a week on top of a full-time job. Obviously, that's not a solution for everyone. But it does give him planned time to do whatever he wants, so maybe one or both of you could sign up for a class one night a week. Over the summer, when I didn't have class and we'd be together much more, I planned several weekend getaways to other cities to go see friends, sent him off to spend the day mountain biking so I'd have alone time, or just went for a run to get out of the house. And to be honest, I've been pestering him to go camping or something for the weekend so I can have the place to myself!

    I'm with Another Sarah in establishing some "just me" time/activities, because it makes sharing a relatively small space considerably easier, and makes joint conversations more fun when you get to tell the other person all about what you've been up to.

  • Jess says:

    Loner: I went through the same thing recently when my boyfriend and I moved in together, though it turns out I actually DO go out much more often than he does. My solution, at least in the warm months, was to take a long walk around the nearby park whenever I needed to get away. He does likewise – he goes to the gym if he's craving some down time away from me and the apartment.

    For alone time IN the apartment, we've made our kitchen into a very hang-out-able place by setting up an extra computer with a flat-screen monitor at the table (easily movable for meals and company) and adding bar stools and chair pads. So when we're both home, I find myself spending a lot of time hanging out in there. We splurged on a place that has doors you can shut, so he can be in the TV room or the bedroom and it's like being home alone.

  • Jessica says:

    For Maiden:
    I didn't change my maiden name when I got married, but several years ago, I changed my first and middle names, and both get put on my resume for reference purposes. While it confuses some people, and they do ask about it, the answer "personal preference" is all I say, and most people just say "oh, ok". I found that an easier, and actually better recepted answer than the few times I actually mentioned what my reasons were.

    For Loner:
    My husband and I have our own space in our apartment, we just had to make some compromises on how it works. Thick curtains hung on the ceiling actually help keep out noise, I keep the books in my space, the video games are on his, because while we love each other dearly, we just have different interests on alot of things. And there is an understanding that is non-negotiable – when one is in "their" space, the other doesn't interrupt. You just don't. It took some getting used to, but it works if you want it to, and even if its just a side of the curtain, you do get used to that being "yours" and it helps. When we have the money to get a new place, we will both have our own rooms. We don't think anything of it if one of us sleeps on the couch because we both sleep better alone. And yes, some people do think its weird, but its not their business or their marraige.

  • m says:

    @ roomie: if you really want to get what you are owed, maybe you should as the landlord to provide provide cousin and boyfriend with an entirely new lease, so you would then get your deposit back. that way, if anything should come up about the apt when they leave (e.g. scratches, dirty oven) you can in no way be held accountable.

    @ loner: is it that you want the whole HOUSE for yourself, a room, or that you both want to use rooms alone at the same time? in addition to the other wise advice, maybe buying an extra teevee/xbox/dvd player/mini-fridge for the bedroom might allow you to separate more within your current space – one in the living room, one in the bedroom, and keep the door shut. or, don't prepare/eat every meal together (small table in bedroom?), do chores while the other is not around, or buy noise-cancelling headphones/earplugs and plug into something else for awhile.

  • ferretrick says:


    A couple of suggestions:
    1. Even though you have a small apartment, is it possible to create another "entertainment" area in the bedroom. (Ok, that sounded dirtier than I mean). But, think about what you want to do with your alone time. Do you like reading? Well, no problem, that can be done by adding a comfortable chair. Internet? Ok, is it possible to hook up another computer in the other room? Ditto, television. See if there's a way you could arrange things, so that when you want alone time one of you could be in the living area and the other in the bedroom with a "Do Not Disturb" sign (not really, but you get my point).

    2. Seek your alone time in coffee shops, good book stores, museums, libraries, parks. There are plenty of places you can go and sit and pretty much be left alone for free or pretty cheaply.

  • roz says:

    Loner – I adore my husband but find him hard to live with 24/7. As our relationship has matured, we've found outside interests that are not a threat to our marriage and it has worked out OK. My husband plays music with two different bands so he has practice at least one night a week, usually twice, and sometimes a weekend gig. I am far more social than my husband, and he was tired of being dragged along to my gatherings. Now I usually go to them solo, so that's some separate time. I also instituted one designated night per week as my night out, so that he can work out his band schedule in advance around my time.

    We have kids so we have to coordinate one of us being home every night, but it works out. I think we get along better if we maintain our separate selves. In an ideal world, I think I'd have my own bed, closet and bathroom, especially bathroom, but we live in an urban area and don't live in a McMansion.

    Before we had the time-apart situation explicitly worked out, I think we both found last-minute excuses to spend time apart, and it led to hurt feelings (and on my part, excessive shopping time.) You are absolutely right to work this out mutually and openly. But don't forget date night. It's important to reconnect after time apart so you can maintain your relationship.

  • attica says:

    I have a non-space related tidbit for Loner. You have to practice to get good at it, but you need to learn to decompress fast. That way, the minute you're alone, you're alone. (I learned how to do this when I worked a job in which my two days' off per week weren't contiguous.) I second the 'get out of the house' advice, because a change of scenery is truly as refreshing as a nap to me. If you put yourself on a 'get out and decompress' schedule, you'll find before long your body will do so automatically.

    But seriously. I know it may look difficult from here, but there are ways to figure out how to swing a bigger pad. Set your mind to it. Get creative, or get help getting creative. The whole 'I want things to be different, but I can't change anything' thing is both defeatist and ridiculous.

  • jill (tx) says:

    Loner, I completely identify with your temperament. I am so thankful that my guy works odd hours, so I get enough me-time on weekdays to actually miss him when he's gone. The suggestions that one of you make some kind of plans out of the apartment a night or two per week are probably going to be more satisfying than the idea of creating separate areas in your apartment. If you're anything like me, just the knowledge that someone else is in your space – even if there's a curtain or door between – can be defeating.

    Ideally, though, I think Sars is right: you'll have to rearrange some things financially or geographically to find a long-term solution. In my city (which is admittedly not the most expensive), one option for me in the past has been renting studio space in an artists' co-op. If you have anything to work on, you can set it up there and be totally alone, for much less than the cost of another apartment, or even weekly hotel rooms.

  • Freedom Lisa says:

    I know what you mean…after my divorce I didn't even want to think about all I had to do. Least of all change my name…very emotional and heartbreaking divorce.
    I remember even going on a job interview where my mom lives and when he showed me a pic of his family I started crying and telling him I was getting a divorce!!! (what a man will do to you)
    Anyway, six months later….I'm moving to another state closer to my family, (a hole moved me closer to his and far from mine) changing jobs, sold the house and living in my mothers basement with my two kitties for a while till I get back on my feet…oh, yeah and finally changed my name! We all have to do things in our own time… and I give you credit for coming through it stronger and wiser.
    I say, no explanation needed.
    Its so common place now I doubt anyone will ask you…
    even if they do, I find just saying "I'm divorced" as cliché as it sounds- works. People usually don't like to pry and since 50% of the population is…no biggy…
    Just remember your a strong woman and after something like this everything else is a walk in the park. Hope you get everything in life you deserve and never look back! :-)

  • KPP says:

    @Loner-Do you guys have separate hobbies at all that you can explore? Music? Games? Crafts? Sports? I know you talked about extended hours, but I think it would be handy if you each had 2-3 hours once a week where each of a regular activity where one went out if you don't already. If might lead to a couple additional friends or longer weekends things where you can get more time away to hang out along.

    @Maiden. If anyone ever starts questioning about your name change beyond the simple explanation, previous name, etc, just give them the ole blank stare until they're uncomfortable and embarrased and trail off. Change subject.

  • attica says:

    @Maiden: you could always tell the curious that you changed your name because you lost a bar bet. Then watch the 'Wait…What?' steal across their face and giggle.

  • Katharine says:

    I don't know; I think Roomie is overthinking because of the backstory. It doesn't matter whether she paid the $500 now, or yesterday, or 20 years ago; Boyfriend now has an established arrangement of paying rent to her, and he owes her rent for this month, because it's still her apartment. She should just ask for it like usual. The key will be to avoid including grumpy subtext of "AAAAAAND the $2004 BACK RENT you ALSO owe me, you freeloading wanker, PLUS UTILITIES AND EXPENSES," because that, alas, is indeed lost money, unless she wants things to get beyond ugly… and probably, even then. But I don't see why this month should be a problem, unless someone makes it so.

  • SorchaRei says:

    You don't actually need two hotel rooms a week to get the time you need. You only need one, because when you are out of the apartment at the hotel, he's alone in the apartment.

    For a variety of work-related reasons, I used to have to stay in the same hotel one night a week for over a year. If you pick a night which is not their busiest night, many hotels will work a deal with you to sell the room in bulk (I paid 40% of the lowest internet price for a room, but I could not have it on holiday weeks at that rate).

    I've been married 20 years and we both also have a heavy need for time alone. If you are able to arrange the hotel deal, it's very important that you take turns staying at the hotel and staying at home, because it reinforces that the apartment is home for both of you. You can also look at your budget and see how many nights in a hotel you could afford a month. Even if you can only afford two, that would be a full day and night alone every two weeks. It always amazes me how much value there is in knowing that I have scheduled alone time coming up, even if it's a week or so away.

  • meltina says:


    Like Melissa said, once you start adding to your family, your options for alone time get a lot smaller, so a bigger space is definitely a consideration. Heck, if you're really that bad, forget children, don't even get cats. Mine follow me everywhere, and one of them is not only able to pry doors open, he's not shy about it. It's been a year and a half since I've been able to shower without an audience. I assume that having kids would be much of the same.

    But back to your problem: coffee shop and wireless web are your friends. All you have to do is tune out strangers, and that's probably much easier with that setup.

    If you want alone time in a room to call your own in your ratty and fuzzy slippers? Better get a bigger place.

  • Cyntada says:

    Loner, you just made me think of my parents, and my whole experience growing up: My Dad in the bedroom, watching his TV shows, my Mom in the living room, watching her TV shows. He comes out for snacks and they goof around, she sees something interesting on the news and barges in there to tell him about it. They've been happily, awesomely married for 44 years and counting.

    Obviously your needs are bigger than just his-and-her TV time, but the point is, it can be done. Write down all the potential solutions, especially the impossibly silly ones… because the suggestion of renting a crater on the Moon might be the thought that leads you to the option that works it all out. There is nothing wierd about each of you getting what you need. Tell the rest of the world to kiss your butts, get your creative on, and make it happen. You'll get it done.

  • Jacq says:

    Yep, I definitely don't think that it's weird to want your own space, even in the happiest of marriages. And I agree with those who have suggested that activities might be the answer – just take a weekend day every now and then and go and DO stuff. Or send him out to do stuff.

    We are blessed with quite a lot of space in our current house, so my husband (who works from home) has his office, and I have a dressing room. I don't necessarily spend a lot of time in there, but it's where all my stuff is, and I like knowing that I have a room of my own (Virginia Woolf shout-out!) And I socialise separately from my husband quite often as well, as I'm more inclined to go out than he is.

  • La BellaDonna says:

    Roomie: Mostly I'd make certain your landlord knows in writing that you are applying your "last month rent" to your current situation, so that he doesn't "forget" and tag you with a bad credit report. I would also suggest, in that letter, that you remind him that he will need to prepare a new lease for Cousin and her boyfriend, rather than just letting them pick up your current lease. You want to be totally removed from that situation, because I'm guessing that after freeloading off the pair of you, boyfriend is going to be freeloading off Cousin, and it's going to get ugly (uglier), sooner or later. If you want that last $167 (and yes, you are due it legitimately), you can simply remind him that he still owes it to you, per Katherine. As far as smooth family relations go … Cousin doesn't seem to have cared that much, does she? For the future, if you have roommates, I'd suggest establishing, in writing, in advance, that if another person of whatever gender starts spending X amount of time in the apartment, he or she pays rent, in whatever amount you decide ahead of time.

    Loner: Neither you nor your spouse is strange for needing alone time. Robert Parker, the mystery writer, and his wife, Joan (also a writer) have separate houses, and are happily married. A friend of mine and her husband also have separate houses; each had a house prior to marriage, and each kept her/his house. Mostly they live in hers, but he goes off to his place for a couple of days a week, to the infinite relief of both. You and your husband each managed to fund a place to live before you got married; you don't mention that circumstances changed so drastically that you HAD to get married and give up one place. I'm going to suggest either looking into a fixer-upper – a LARGE fixer-upper – or finding a place in an area that's not so great. I had to look for a place in a big ol' unexpected hurry a couple of years ago, and one of the places that was a serious contender had six bedrooms for less than $170,000, in a major East Coast city. The house was completely rehabbed and in good shape. No, the area wasn't very good – but I bet it will be in a couple of years. I've lived in not-very-good areas before, and they don't bother me that much, because I stay inside. I think you and your husband have to figure out both short- and long-term solutions; if the cost of renting a hotel or motel room once or twice a week would go a substantial way towards getting a bigger place, the library, or a gym, might be the temporary solution. If your need for solitude is great enough that divorce has come up as a possibility, not for lack of love, just the need for alone … well, it really would be cheaper to get a bigger place – one with nice solid doors to shut. And I would strongly recommend thinking twice, and twice again, about having children, because there is no privacy once they come along.

  • RJ says:

    Maiden – There's a woman at my job who had been at the company, was either married or got married, then left to go to business school. She later rejoined the company and when people called her by her married name she said, "Oh, I've gone back to (maiden name here)." By which people understood that she was divorced and that was that. I know not everyone can let it go at that, but hopefully most people will have the good sense to let it go. :) And good for you for getting out of a bad relationship and into a good place!

    Roomie – I'll tell ya, when I was finally able to move out of my parents' place again (they didn't want me to go – I was paying all the bills! Just so you know I'm not a freeloader LOL) I deliberately went with a place I could afford alone. I'm so, so grateful not to have roommates, because I'm not good at compromise, I don't like other people's people in my space, and you're a way better person than I am because if I'd been in the situation I'd have been hissing and spitting early on (I am an accomplished hisser and spitter, although I know that's not really a good thing). I'm glad you're getting out. I have to agree with Sars that you might want to take a loss on this one and make sure you get details like that in writing in the future – if you bring someone else in, they pay their fair share, or the person who brings them in pays their share for bringing them in, or something like that. Best wishes on your move!

  • Kristin says:

    I have to agree with Attica about learning to decompress quickly. I get up early, before the rest of the household, and have my alone time with the paper and coffee. Mr Stroh stays up later than the rest of us, and gets his alone time at night. Might only be an hour long, but it does the trick. Conferences out of town for a couple nights a year help both of us have longer term alone time too.

  • Marmot says:

    @Maiden–3 names on the publications on my CV: Maiden, Mother's Maiden (legal name change), and then Mother's Maiden – Husband's.

    Never been a problem or a question about it from anyone.

    What I have seen some women do is go by FirstName AssholeName PreferredLastName for a while, then eventually just drop the AssholeName quietly. Seems to work well.

    Good luck and congrats on finally feeling better about the whole thing.

  • Jen S says:

    Roomie, this, THIS is why I lived alone–worked two jobs, managed the building, was broke as hell–to avoid this crap. LaBellaDonna is completely right–go to your landlord and present your move out date in writing, and copy of your original lease with the last month's rent highlighted. Explain that Cousin and Spongebob Moochpants need their own lease. Don't let him/her forget to send your moveout report to your new address. As for the 167.00, mooches count on you deciding it's "too much trouble" to retrieve sums of money. If you really need it or it's really bothering you, you have to gird the ol' loins and calmly request said sum, in writing. Send a registered letter if you have to. The idea is to make it more trouble to keep the money than it would be to just pay what he owes already.

    Loner, you are not strange. Katherine Hepburn said men and women should live in separate houses and just visit now and then. Maybe extreme, but rings a bell in many heads. My now husband/than boyfriend rented the apartment above me when I managed my apartment building (bless his heart) and trust me, we would not be married today if we hadn't gotten to know each other while having our own space. We would have kept it up after the wedding if we could have afforded two rents. Right now first thing on our "house shopping if this economic apocalypse ever slows down" is a condo or house with a separate office for his drawing table and work, so I'm not trapped in the bedroom with the cats every morning.

  • phineyj says:

    Loner, your letter really made me appreciate what my relationship might be like if we didn't have enough space in our house for a room each! I have a suggestion that no-one's made so far — if you've both got good friends living out of your area, why not offer to house sit for them when they go on holiday? That way you get some cheap alone time, they get their house/pets taken care of and you get to speculate on how you'll lay your house out for maximum marital harmony in the future when you've got more cash.

    I agree with the people who've suggested that if cash and space allows, you might double up on things like sofas, internet points and TVs so that there's more than one usable sitting area in your place. A sofa bed can be a good stop gap if you haven't got a spare bedroom.

    If you adopt some of the solutions people have suggested I'm sure you can sort this out. I look forward to you developing our problem…when you've both so successfully carved out your own space, time and activities that you technically live in the same house but hardly see or speak to each other (I now have to arrange things so I actually SEE my husband) Ahem….

  • bossyboots says:

    Loner, @phineyj is so, so right on with the housesitting suggesting. I did that in college rather frequently and it was a lifesaver, both for me and the folks I sat for. Go for it.

    I want to add that I, too, completely understand your situation. When I got married last year, I spent the first several months thinking "why are you always HERE?" about my darling husband (to which another part of my brain would always reply – "duh, he owns half this place, too"). Having blocks of unassigned, uninterrupted alone time is something I value very deeply, and many components in my life changed in the last year that made such time a much rarer and more precious commodity. To be honest, I didn't really handle it well for several months – cut myself off from friends and family, largely, because I couldn't stomach giving over some of my precious alone time to talking on the phone. Please don't make that mistake – I'm really kicking myself for it now as I try to repair relationships and make more of a life for myself. My husband and I recently started carpooling to work together, which pretty much gutted my major source of alone time (a move i fought really hard at first, then realized we'd save $500/month by doing so, now I love our car time together), so I've worked hard since July to get comfy with the "quick decompression" stuff others have mentioned here. I really did not think that would ever work for me, but it did.

    All of this is to say that even though the situation looks kind of bleak from where you're standing now, you *can* find a way to adapt. Teach yourself to recognize and soak up your moments of solace whereever you find them (I mean, really whereever – I even relish a good sojourn on the can at work these days…heh). You'll get there.

  • Lib says:

    I totally agree with Jen S. I'm getting married this month, and my boyfriend and I live in the same apartment complex but down the street from each other. It's within walking distance, but we still have our own space. I will enjoy being able to live with him after we get married, but I definitely treasure my own space. Fortunately, I have regular visits with a college friend in town every week so it gets me out of the house. He goes to a buddy's house every other Saturday or so for PPV UFC fights. I know it will help us not to kill each other when we live in a one bedroom apartment until our leases run out in January. :)

  • Lib says:

    Arg, I meant my "fiance". Hee.

  • inashlandor says:

    For those needing (and it is an essential need for many of us!) alone time, I recommend reading The introvert advantage : how to thrive in an extrovert world by Marti Olsen Laney. It explains in detail why we introverts need alone time to recharge and offers great suggestions on how to communicate and achieve those needs to the extroverts. Check your local library!

  • Isabel says:

    I have no advice to add but I have to chip in to say, as someone a few years away from the world of cohabitation/marriage, it's a relief to me to know I'm not the only person in the world who's thought "yeah love is cool, but sharing a ROOM? come on now, my room is MINE."

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