Ending Up As Roommates
The fact is that you can slip into being roommates at any point in your relationship. For some couples the early years of having children are so demanding that their intimacy never recovers. When children first come into a marriage a huge emotional shift takes place, because partners have to focus so much of their energy on being parents. This is as it should be.
But some couples put too much emphasis on just being parents. They don’t hold onto enough of their previous friend/lover connection and their relationship becomes completely child centered. Then as their children grow up and need them less, these couples are left with only a dim memory of themselves as lovers. Without realizing it they have allowed their romantic togetherness to gradually slip away; they then have to work very hard to get it back.
Other couples find the middle years (seven through fifteen) of a marriage or long-term relationship more difficult. Now work and career issues often exert enormous pressures. And this is in addition to making sure that children grow up feeling loved, understood, and encouraged. It is at this very hectic time that mid-life doubts, regrets, and disappointments may begin to creep up.
One or both partners, having not achieved a level of success they expected and thought possible, may begin to doubt their worth and then feel inadequate. Living within a diminished a financial reality may create additional tension. When both work and one earns significantly more than the other the stage is set for resentment. Old unresolved issues having to do with power and control may resurface and threaten to take over the relationship.
In another category are partners in twenty-year plus relationships where fears about aging begin to loom larger, creating anxiety and/or depression. These long-term relationships can suddenly crash when one partner decides that he or she just can’t go on doing the same old routine. He may believe that he has been living his life to please everyone else, and become determined to make his desires the most important. In the grip of seeing his life as “more over” than “yet to be lived,” he may become desperate to find someone or something that makes him feel alive again. Affairs, which can happen at any time in a relationship, are common at this point, because affairs break through the boredom and sameness of life as usual.
So the possibility of becoming roommates is always there. The more you know about the process, the better you’ll be able to correct or prevent it. Remember that relationships are not simple; they are complex. There are no pure types, no relationships that are 100 percent roommate or 100 percent soul mate. A roommate marriage may have some soul mate characteristics, and vice versa. There are degrees of each type in every marriage. Here are two examples of couples with a high degree of roommate characteristics.