Why stay married when you live like roommates? Because sometimes divorce isn’t worth the pain and destruction. These tips are inspired by a reader who loves her husband, but they live separate lives.
The Relationship Cure: A 5 Step Guide to Strengthening Your Marriage, Family, and Friendships by John Gottman is an excellent place to start. He reveals the key elements of healthy relationships, emphasizing the importance of emotional connection.
“We have been married for three years, been together for 9,” says Beatrice on How to Be Happy Even in an Unhealthy Relationship. “I have been unhappy for about two years now. Everything is separate in our marriage, money especially. His is his, mine is mine, which is very frustrating when it comes to bills, going out, etc. I feel like we’ve lost our connection, we have been doing everything separately lately. We had a big talk about everything in May, and I wanted to separate, but because I am ‘too nice’ and don’t want to hurt him, I have stayed and tried to stick it out. I feel stuck and confused…what should I do?”
Why Stay Married When You Live Like Roommates?
“I do love him and he is my best friend, but I feel that we’re merely roommates,” says B. “I think taking a break would be a good idea, I just don’t know what to do to get there. I have had these feelings for a year at least! I don’t know what I am scared of. It gets frustrating at home; I feel that everything I do is not good enough. He is always pointing out the negative things or things I have not done, or are doing wrong. I feel like everything with him is a competition. Part of me wants to separate or possibly divorce, but then the other part is thinking maybe I do really love him deep down enough and that this can be fixed.”
Divorce isn’t an easy decision, even for the unhappiest marriages. But, it may be easier in the long run to separate. If you aren’t sure, read 7 Tips for Letting Go of Toxic Relationships.
Figure out what you’re scared of…working on your marriage? Divorce?
In Why Do Women Stay in Loveless Marriages? I describe a few reasons women don’t leave their husbands. Take a look at that article, and see where you fit in.
Also, I want you to take 20 minutes every morning to write about your feelings, thoughts, opinions, experiences, and life. This is what Julia Cameron calls Morning Pages; it’s an invaluable tool for cleaning out your internal closets. Writing down whatever is in your head will help you figure out what you’re scared of. It’ll help you figure out if you want to stay married, or if you’re serious about – not just flirting with – divorce.
Dig into the source of your unhappiness
When my husband and I went to Hawaii a few months ago, I was an emotional wreck. We fought almost every night – I blamed him for everything from cold pancakes to leaky snorkel masks. While we were there, I knew I was desperately unhappy…and I blamed the nearest, dearest person in my life: my husband.
In hindsight, I see that the reason I was so emotional was because my grandmother (may she rest in peace) took me there twice. She was like a mother to me, and I feel like I didn’t give her the love or respect she deserved. I’ve got some unresolved issues there. And my sister joined us on one of those vacations; she and I have had some pretty painful relationship problems since them. More unresolved crap.
What’s the point? Sometimes we have personal issues that our marriages, husbands, or kids trigger…that don’t have anything to do with the marriage itself. Sometimes we’re reacting to our own pasts, emotional baggage, and burdens. That’s what I was doing in Hawaii…and sometimes that’s the (unfounded, unreasonable) basis of divorce.
Living like roommates isn’t the problem. The problem is what is causing you to live like roommates. Your job is to dig up the root of the problem.
Remember that feelings of love come and go – but marriage should not depend on feelings
You can’t love your husband with all your heart all the time! Well, you can act like you do, but you can’t possibly sustain constant romantic, sexy, loving feelings for him or your marriage. That’s the stuffHollywood movies are made of. The lovey dovey romantic marriages in movies are false, misleading lies.
In reality, marriage is hard work. It’s a lot harder than most people realize, which is why so many couples end up divorce. You need to decide if you want to be married, and then you need to focus on building a happy, healthy marriage. If you keep waffling on whether you should stay or leave your husband, your marriage will suffer. You won’t just be living like roommates with your husband, you’ll start to destroy each other.
Why not take six months to do everything you can to stay married? Invest some time and energy into figuring out what you want out of your marriage and how you can get it. Read 6 Reasons to Stay Married.
If you’re still living like roommates after six months of trying to save your marriage, then you know it’s time for a Big Change.
Get professional counseling – not necessarily marriage counseling
The reason I suggested The Self-Sabotage Cycle is because she loves her husband and is best friends with him, yet she thinks he’s the source of her unhappiness. I don’t know if he is or he isn’t, but the problems she mentioned are normal parts of being married. Well, not all couples have totally separate bank accounts and lives – but all couples have issues they need to work through, and all couples go through periods of disconnection and separate-ness.
The best way to figure out if your husband is the source of your unhappiness is to look inside you. A visit or two to a counselor can help you figure it out – and so can the Morning Pages, books about marriage, and resources for strong, healthy women.
For more thoughts on staying married or getting divorced, read Considering Divorce? Signs You Should Leave Your Husband.
What do you think – are you wondering why stay married when you and your spouse live separate lives, like roommates? I can’t offer advice, but you may find it helpful to share your experience. Writing often brings clarity and insight, and helps you hear the still small voice.
Your thoughts are welcome below! I don't give advice, but you can get free relationship help from marriage coach Mort Fertel.
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