10 Ways To Make Your Spouse Feel Like A Roommate
Grayson Wallen, M.A., A.P.C.C. #5227 on May 19, 2022 in Relationship and Family
Let me be clear, these are things that you do not what to do. Making your spouse feel like a roommate is not good for making a committed or marriage relationship vibrant and satisfying. Here are some common ways that committed relationships can get stuck and what to do about it:
- You don’t talk about your day. Antidote: Talk about your day. Research shows that this conversation when it happens daily can reduce your stress and increase connection with your partner because they are helping you reduce your stress.
- You go to bed at separate times. Antidote: When possible, go to bed at the same time. The reason why this is important is that it creates a shared life together. It also prevents the person who may stay up from having an entirely separate life without their partner. If you wanted to take this concept to the next level, it would include waking up at the same time as the partner who has to get up earlier.
- You eat separate meals. Antidote: Eat the same meal, at the same time. I know from personal experience that even making the shift to looking across a table to one another over a meal is an intimacy builder. Staying parallel and not looking at each other, or even not talking while eating (because Schitt’s Creek is on instead of talking) can create a sense of parallel instead of intersection in your relationship.
- You don't have a date night. Antidote: Go on a date. Most experts suggest a weekly interval for this where you do something fun and meaningful for the relationship to grow. As another suggestion for date night, not doing administrative things like talking about schedules, finances, and logistics for the family can support date night intimacy. Save all these conversations for another meeting each week.
- You have different groups of friends. Antidote: Have groups of people that you both like to hang out with. I am not attacking girls' night or guys' night out here. I am saying that when one person wants to be with other people that the other person doesn't like to be with and can opt to stay home or go somewhere else can create a division.
- You fight but don't talk about it afterward. Antidote: Best relationship practice is to debrief what just happened in the relationship before assuming the relationship can move forward again. Men in cis-gendered, heterosexual relationships have the most difficulty with this one. There are similar findings in gay and lesbian couples as well. The point is that this is hard for basically everyone, but is also necessary for relationship health and satisfaction.
- You think you know everything there is to know about your partner. Antidote: Ask open-ended questions. I am not saying that you don't know a lot, or even most things about your partner, but as we grow and change, so do the details of our preferences. For suggestions here, you can use the Gottman Card Deck app (free) and look at Love Maps and Open-Ended Questions for support.
- Sex is obligatory or passionless. Antidote: Sex becomes passionless when friendship is lacking. Popular culture has 100+ new sex moves that "will blow his mind" each month. The last time I checked, sex as an activity has not changed since the beginning of time. The satisfying, rich sexual connection comes from being good friends and having fond feelings towards this friend. There are lots of other reasons why sex can be difficult including physical pain during sex, trauma(s), and rejections. Sexual intimacy is a cornerstone of intimate relationships and without it, can make relationships feel downgraded. Here is a book I would highly recommend: Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life.
- You don’t know what is happening in your partner’s life. Antidote: Ask about what is happening in your partner’s life and share what is happening in yours. This will help with the relationship’s friendship and stress reduction which will pay into sexual intimacy and overall relationship satisfaction.
- You don't have a plan for the relationship. Antidote: Make a plan for the future. The core components of a relationship are friendship, conflict management, and purpose for the relationship. This looks like talking and making plans about ways that you want to celebrate in life, as well as the roles each of you carry, goals you have for the future, values the relationship holds, and the type of legacy you wish to give to those around you and in your family.
The bottom line is that overlapping parts of life cause a relationship to feel like a relationship and not like a roommate agreement. The goal is not to live the same life and even having solo time away from your partner is a good thing. Taking time to focus on your needs individually and the relationship's needs collectively are healthy, but a relationship is a two-way street so allowing your partner to talk about their experiences as well is equally as important as you share yours. Being different and/or separate is also a good relationship practice for individuation. But sharing life is the thesis of a committed relationship. Many marrieds have spoken the words: to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part. The idea is together, you and me, no matter what we will do this together; I am here to be with you and you with me.
Here's to making your relationship rich, satisfying, and fun, and less like a roommate that you happen to live with.
TL/DR: Do these things if you want to make your partner feel like a roommate.
This post originally appeared on www.graysonwallen.com/blog/10waysroommate
is a Associate Professional Clinical Counselor
in Encinitas, CA.