Four guys. One house. Let the tensions begin. I love my three roommates. They are all great guys and strong followers of Jesus. Each is involved in significant movements in the Jesus’ kingdom, and each deeply desires to honor God with their lives. So how come they can be so annoying sometimes? Being a roommate is easy. Being a good roommate takes work and the attitude of Christ. Here are some suggestions to help you kick a smooth beat with the roomies that share your space.
Leave everything in the house better than you found it. This has wide-ranging implications. If the double roll of Charmin Extra Quilted runs out, replace it. Don’t leave the cap off that common tube of toothpaste. And when you are finished in any room that is not your own, leave it cleaner than when you got there. These may seem like little things, but this is the kind of stuff that builds tension under the surface.
Save your roommates money. This mainly applies to those roommates who split the rent and the utilities, which involves the majority of us. No one wants to see his or her hard-earned scratch flushed down the toilet, so make sure you aren’t the one responsible for it. Here are a few ideas for helping keep house bills low. Turn the lights off when you leave a room. Conserve water when possible (don’t leave it running when you are brushing your teeth, one shower a day, wash large loads of clothes, etc.). Don’t eat it if you don’t really want it; this allows it to be there for someone else. Be respectful of the property. This will keep all of you from losing your deposit.
Treat your roommate’s property better than your own. This is another little thing that can become a big issue if you’re not careful. If you borrow a roommie’s CD, make sure it doesn’t get scratched. If you watch one of their DVDs, put it back in the case when you’re done. Be careful with their dishes and silverware. You’d be surprised how quickly that kind of stuff can disappear.
Do your fair share. Each house or apartment comes with its own set of responsibilities, ranging from yard work to the dishes. Make sure that you are doing just as much as your other roommates. If you feel that you are pulling more than your weight, talk with the others about it and state your case.
Do more than your fair share. Sometimes, being a servant of Christ and a servant to your roommates will necessitate you picking up some of the other guys’ slack. You can call this unfair … Jesus called it going the extra mile.
Pay your rent on time. Think about this. If you were paying your landlord directly and you were late, your butt would be bouncing on the pavement. Why is it that we don’t have the same diligence to our pay schedule when rent is due to one of our roommates or even worse, one of our friends? When you’re slack on your responsibilities, you are taking advantage of someone else. This is one of those basic responsibility things and a first step in being a mature adult.
Ask if you want to borrow something. There is some level of leeway in this depending on how close you are with your roommates. But even if you are best friends and open use of each other’s stuff is an unspoken rule, at least let them know you have what you are borrowing. There is nothing more annoying than getting ready for that hot date and not being able to find your favorite shirt.
Do your best to inform your roommates when you will be using the house to entertain dates or friends. Nothing is more awkward than getting home after work and walking in on your roomy getting his mac on in the living room. Or maybe you’ve had the worst day of the year and you’re ready for a quiet night at home. You arrive only to discover the house filled with your roommate’s friends. That can really strike a nerve. I’m not implying that you should ask permission, but maybe just a phone call to let them know what’s up would be in order.
Communicate often. Find out what is going on in each other’s lives. Ask about work. Pray with each other. Talk about what Jesus is teaching you and find out what they are learning, too. This can be a great support system for you and them.
Communicate directly. Don’t leave notes to inform your roomies about things that upset you. Have the intestinal fortitude to talk to them face to face, or drop it all together. Only leave a note behind if it is to encourage someone.
Plan some roommate-only hang time. Try to spend a few hours a week with each other all together without any interruptions. If possible, do it away from the house.
View this as marriage practice. If you will serve the people you live with now and learn how to overlook their shortcomings, the first few months of marriage will go a lot smoother. Here’s the bottom line: If you can live with three guys and maintain your walk with Christ, you can definitely live with a woman.
Make all your expectations clear before they move in. This is best done with the lease or an addition to the lease. Cover issues like chores, when rent is due, what happens if it is late and who is responsible for damage to the house. If it is a concern to you, it better be in the lease.
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