Finding a way out of the “Roommate Marriage”
So many times I hear this sentiment in the therapy office. “We are just roommates,” “we are just co-parenting,” “when the kids leave home there will be nothing left and we will part,” “we are friends at best but more like strangers,” “we are house managers” and the list goes on.
Being “roommates” is not just a “sexless marriage,” there is also a lot of pain, loneliness, anger, longing, and frustration in those statements.
Where did that big love go – the passion, the sex, the connection? These elements are so important for a lasting love relationship.
The initial passion of any relationship usually changes after about 18 months when it moves from the romantic and exciting to an attachment-kind of loving, secure in its bond and understanding. Many couples lament and mourn that initial time when it was all easy and flowing and it was not “work” to keep the relationship alive and sparkly.
As that romantic beginning fades and shifts into a more solid secure bond, adding children, jobs, parents, homes, etc., it does become challenging, to say the least, to continue that magic and fire that once brought you two together. It may be different from that ‘honeymoon’ phase, but it is possible to transition into the next phase of the relationship without that alarming sense of being roommates. It may be good to put aside the romanticized, silver-screen notions of sex and realize that the majority of couples after about 3~5 years of marriage are having good-enough sex. Occasionally, they have sex that knocks it out of the ballpark. But they’re having sex regularly. They’re getting into bed, getting naked, hugging and touching, kissing and talking.
Here are some warning signs that may indicate you are in a roommate marriage:
- It’s been a while since you’ve really talked. I’m sure you speak every day. You have to! You probably exchange pleasantries on a regular basis: good morning, good night, be safe, how was your day? When’s the last time the two of you had a conversation, where the both of you were engaged, genuinely interacting, and listening to each other?
- You find yourselves in different rooms constantly. Look around. Where’s your significant other? Are you in the living room and he’s in his man cave? Are you in the kitchen and she’s in the bedroom? Are you often in different rooms away from each other? Some would blame it on different taste in television shows. Some would say it’s because they have work to do. But in reality it is the avoidance pattern that is making you grow apart and not want to deal with it.
- You are two ships passing in the day and night. You work, you’ve got errands to run, your kids have activities, but the constant go go go is a sign you’re your spouse’s roommate. At some point, your schedules should sync up. Each couple should have their friends, but when you’re spending an excessive amount of time out of the house, including staying out late, something’s wrong.
- You’re hardly having sex. Sex is a very important part in a marriage, and yet it’s often one of the first things to go when things aren’t going well. Think about the last time you were intimate with your spouse. Has it been days, weeks, or months? When you’re in bed together, what do you do? Is one person reading while another person watches TV? Do you even cuddle anymore? If the sex is gone, not only are you roommates, but now you’re bedmates and that’s no fun.
- Even fighting has diminished. Resentment can easily build if you’re not performing regular maintenance in your relationship. You’re not going to like everything your spouse does, but if you’re discussing it with everyone else but him or her, you have some things to work on. There’s nothing worse than when you’re the last to know about problems in your marriage. If you’ve been telling your parents, your siblings, or your friends about issues you have with your husband or wife, you’re certainly in a roommate capacity rather than a spouse capacity.
There is a way out of a roommate marriage. Ask yourself these questions:
- Would you want to go back to the days before you became ‘roommates’?
- Do you want to find the way back to closeness and intimacy?
- Do you wish to feel more accepted and have less conflict in your relationship?
- Is it time to bring back that special bond you once shared?
- Would you wish to learn how to communicate better your needs, and be open to hearing your partner?
What if…. you can get unstuck and…
- Return to intimacy and connection
- Be vulnerable with each other
- Heal old attachment wounds
- Connect in a secure bond
- Take risks with each other
- Learn to rely on each other
At our Hold Me Tight Workshop this September, learn how to:
- Address those issues that brought you to that “roommate” phase
- Find your way back to intimacy, sexuality and connection
- Understand the negative cycles that keep you both hostage and hijack your relationship over and over again
- Affirm strengths in your relationship
- Move out of the negative cycles that keep you stuck and alone
- Make sense of your own and your partner’s emotions
- Forgive injuries that keep you from really opening up with your partner
- Communicate your emotional needs for connection
- Establish a secure and intimate bond for one another
- Restore commitment and hope
- Decrease isolation, distance and loneliness
- Learn to manage intense and negative emotion
- Rebuild safety and trust
More information about the workshop:
Coming this September 26-27 to Nevada City, California. The Hold Me Tight Workshop uses Emotional Focused Therapy for a quick and effective structured approach to marital and couples therapy. Evidence shows that 90% of couples show significant improvements and that these positive effects last over time.
We can help you book accommodations if you want to turn this weekend into a superb retreat.
Cost: $595 per couple; Early Bird Registration By August 31: Only $495 per couple.
To register or for more information, visit http://daliaanderman.com/workshops/