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By Chandrama Anderson

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!

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