How To Handle A Rough Living Situation

18 November 2014

Have you ever lived with someone who you originally meshed with but over time things just got messy?

Have you ever lived with someone where the tension was palpable and you didn't want to be home?

Have you ever lived with someone who you rarely talked to?

Well these are just a few of the things that have been characteristic of my current living situation. There are four of us in a two bedroom apartment. It is a pretty nice apartment for college students who are living in campus housing to occupy. No complaints on that end. However, what started out as a very amicable living situation has progressed throughout the semester to be a tense and stressful situation. One of the roommates and I decided to try to help out the situation by suggesting a moving around of rooms, to which the other two agreed. On one hand things have gotten better, on another it seems they have gotten worse.

Through this experience so far I have come to realize some key things that come into play when living with roommates who don't exactly see eye-to-eye with you or who seem to question any bit of assertiveness you show that contradicts theirs. So here are some tips to make the situation better.

1. Compromise
This seems like a fairly simple concept to most, but sometimes it can be pushed to the wayside or ignored entirely.  As I am now in my 19th year of sharing a living space with someone in some capacity, I have come to stress this as one of the most important ways to make living with others bearable. It is not always an easy concept, especially when it can feel like you are on the losing end (in your opinion). So often we look at compromise as a win-lose situation, when in reality it should be a win-win situation. Compromise is all about meeting in the middle, finding a healthy balance between what you all want. 

When dealing with roommates this is a key concept. Compromises must be made on the use of various items, sharing of food, noise levels at various times of day, and so on. A lot of times it is a struggle to make a compromise that works for everyone, but in the end it is more often than not beneficial for all.

2. Communication
Again, this seems like a simple concept that we all talk about being important in relationships. Yet for some reason we seem to leave 'roommates' out of the relationship category. I think that 'roommates' most definitely falls under the relationship category. How can you not have some sort of relationship with someone you are living with? It is very hard not to. One of the biggest issues that is dealt with in relationships is communication and I don't think it should be any different when it comes to one's roommates. 
This goes hand in hand with compromise. Talk it out. When something is bothering you let the other person/people know so it can be taken care of before it becomes a big deal. Verbalize where you are coming from and allow those you are living with to share where they are coming from as well. It should be a two way street. Effective communication means that everyone is heard. Mix this with compromise and you are in pretty good shape. 
3. Be Honest
How many times have you been around someone in one setting and they were one way but in a different situation they seemed like a completely different person? Yeah, that makes two of us. This also connects directly with the firs two, communication and compromise. When people are like this they aren't being real and they aren't being honest. In order for a roommate relationship to be healthy and enjoyable you have to be honest with each other. If something is bothering you, tell your roommate in all honesty (but don't be harsh). If you're having a bad day, inform your roommates of that. There's no need to keep on a smile when you're home.

Honesty is always the best policy. When you aren't open and honest you tend to hold things in and then they grow and get worse. By sharing honestly what is going on then everyone is able to communicate in a healthy way and if needed find a compromise for the situation. It also allows your roommates to be praying for you...

4. Prayer
This is so key and yet so often forgotten about. Prayer plays a significant role in the rest of our lives and it makes no sense to avoid it in regards to a living situation.  Pray for your roommates. Pray for the apartment. Pray for whatever you need to in regards to your living situation. But do pray. It can make such a huge difference, one that you will be able to see in real life.
I am not saying to pray for things to be perfect or for some idealistic living situation that is not gonna happen in real life. I am saying that you need to pray over those people. Pray that God is working in their lives, shaping and molding them into who He desires for them to be. Pray that His hand is in whatever situations they may be dealing with. Pray that He may use you to bless them. And so on and so forth.

These tips are just some of the ways that you can work towards a more amicable and healthy living situation for all. I can say fairly confidently that I doubt the situation will just magically get better, but over time it should. Roommate conflicts can be messy and can get emotionally driven at times, so remember to be honest/truthful and communicate openly without being harsh or judgmental. Praying for your roommates and the living area, as well as being open to compromise, will be huge as well.

Have you ever had a rough living situation? What are your tips for dealing with the situation?
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