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By Chandrama Anderson

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About this blog: About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and grief and have lived in Silicon Valley since 1969. I'm the president of Connect2 Marriage Counseling. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in ...  (More)

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Premarital and Couples: Living as Roommates?

Uploaded: Apr 12, 2019
I see couples who eventually realize they are living as roommates: they may be good parents together, run their household together, do their respective jobs, spend time with other people or other couples, are comfortable with each other, even love one another. Yet they are not living emotionally intimately and securely attached, and it usually shows up sexually as well.

What does it mean to be intimate? What is it like to live together more deeply -- beyond roommates? How did this come to pass? Most people are excited when they marry or make a commitment to their relationship.

Many of you didn't grow up seeing an intimate relationship between your parents. Whatever you did grow up with seems "normal" or perhaps "right." When your normal or right bumps up against your partner's you react to the impact of that. What is the underlying intention? What is the meaning of the action(s) or words from your partner?

Since you're human, you filter your experience through your own strainer of what's familiar. And you may literally and figuratively "miss" your partner. There's not much lonelier than being lonely in a relationship.

Kids complicate things. Studies have shown that having kids actually reduces marital satisfaction. Now you're filtering and trying to blend your normal/right in relation to your kids: choices of parenting style, discipline, schooling, activities, etc.

Parents need to be a couple first, and parents second. This sets the tone in the family and models intimacy and healthy adult relationships for kids. I've noticed how difficult it is for a couple to go out regularly (and not talk about the kids). I can't encourage you strongly enough: create a weekly date night and do it! That can mean going out, or sending the kids to grandparents so you can be alone together in your house.

Begin to notice your roommate-like behavior. Don't judge it or each other. Name it aloud (e.g., we're both in the house on our own electronic devices and not showing interest in each others' day/thoughts/feelings), and notice how you feel, and what's going on in your body.

Experiment with being connected instead. There are many small and large ways to do so. Making eye contact, breathing together, read a book aloud, rub each others' feet, have a glass of wine and ask a question of your partner, plan a date, ask what happened today that was funny or odd . . . Be creative. Remember how you felt interested in knowing everything about your partner; there's more to know now, too.

Here's to living together in a healthy, securely attached, inter-dependent way!

BTW, I was interviewed for an article for Good Housekeeping on Tips from Couples Therapy; check it out!
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Rabbi Feldman, a resident of Atherton,
on Apr 16, 2019 at 8:24 pm

Rabbi Feldman is a registered user.

"Parents need to be a couple first, and parents second."

WRONG. OK if you are childless but once you have children, they are you primary responsibility until they become adults (whenever that is).

"...sending the kids to grandparents so you can be alone together in your house."

WRONG. Why should the grandparents get stuck with being convenient babysitters? They have a right to their own lives & besides, they've already run the gauntlet of child-rearing.

"Kids complicate things. Studies have shown that having kids actually reduces marital satisfaction."

CORRECT. Some say that having children is God's punishment for having sex.

"I see couples who eventually realize they are living as roommates...they are not living emotionally intimately and securely attached, and it usually shows up sexually as well."

TRUE. Which is why some people get divorced or have affairs outside of the marriage.

I am a counselor too (of sorts) & one must be realistic in dealing with these kinds of situations.

I suggest a vacation apart from one another. Absence either makes the heart grow fonder or serves as an impetus to break free from the constraints of an unfulfilling relationship.

Scenarios change & people change over time. To expect a perpetual honeymoon is a pipe dream. Besides, as couples get older it is only natural for some to either get sick of one another or find each other less physically attractive.

Another mistake is to marry for money & creature comforts as some women opt to marry the best provider they can stomach & this never works out over the long haul.

The only ones who come out ahead at this point are the divorce attorneys.


Posted by Chandrama Anderson, a blogger,
on Apr 17, 2019 at 7:21 am

Chandrama Anderson is a registered user.

Thanks for your thoughts, Rabbi Feldman. The reason kids come (just barely) second is to create a secure "roof" over their heads. That makes for a healthy home for all. Also it shows them a healthy model of parents that they can strive for when they become adults. If the parents don't come first as a couple, they are less able to be good parents for their kids.

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