There is a stigma in relationships that must be shattered, in order for us to move forward as a civilization.
Less judgment. Less opinionated. When it comes to matters of the heart.
Being in love, and yet living in separate residences, could be the answer to millions of people who are looking for both a deep connection and inner peace the same time.
About 20 years ago, a woman came in to seek my counseling services because her marriage was in absolute hell.
She believed firmly in the concept of staying together forever, once you marry… But she was really struggling with the idiosyncrasies of her husband, and the concept that they were so opposite in nature.
He refused to come into work with me, so it was up to her… The relationship was either going to sink or swim because of what she chose to say and do.
After about six months of working together, and every week shaking my head as she came in and told me more stories about how they just could not seem to get along, I propositioned something that I had never said to anyone in my professional career before that. I asked her, if she and her husband would be open to a trial period of living separately while married, but in separate residences.
At first, she drew back in shock, she couldn’t believe what I was saying.
As we talked throughout the rest of that hour, I started to justify why I thought this could be the only thing that might save their marriage. My very first justification for them living separately while married was easy… They had years of experience of living together that was not working. So why not try the opposite?
In my opinion, they were headed for divorce anyway, so why not give the idea of something like being married but living apart which was an idea that’s totally outside the box a chance. With great trepidation, she went home and shared it with her husband. To her incredible surprise, he loved the idea!
Experimenting with living separately while married
Can married couples live apart?
That afternoon he started looking for a condo a mile from their current home.
Within 30 days he found a place that he could live in, a small one bedroom, condo, and she was somewhat excited but really nervous that he would use his newfound freedom to find a new partner.
But I had them sign a contract, that they would stay monogamous, no emotional affairs and or physical affairs were allowed.
That, if one of them starts to stray, they had to immediately tell their partner. We had this all put in writing. Plus, this was going to be a trial.
At the end of 120 days, if it wasn’t working, if they found themselves in more chaos and drama they would then make a decision of what to do next.
After living separately while married, they could decide to separate, decide to divorce or decide to move back in together and give it one more final shot.
But the rest of the story is a fairy tale. It’s beautiful. Within 30 days they were both loving the separate arrangements.
They got together four nights a week for dinner and basically spent the weekends almost entirely together.
Her husband started sleeping over on Saturday nights, so they could have all day Saturday and all day Sunday together. Living separately while married did work out for both of them.
With the separation where they were still married but not living together, the distance that they both needed because their personality types were so uniquely different, was being attended to. A short time after this trial separation it became a final separation… Not separation in their marriage but separation in their living arrangements.
They both were happier than they had ever been in their lives together.
Shortly after that, she came back to me to learn how to write a book. We worked together for months helping her to sculpt her outline because I had written many books by then, I gave her every ounce of education that I had received, and she was flourishing as a first-time author.
She told me multiple times, that if she was ever trying to write a book and still living in the same residence with her husband, he would be nagging her constantly. But because he wasn’t around that much, she felt the freedom to be herself, to do her self, and be happy on her own knowing that she still had someone who cared for her and loves her deeply…Her husband.
Living separately despite being in love can be a good idea
This is not the last time I made this type of recommendation for a couple to be married but living separately, and since that time there have been several couples that I’ve actually helped to save the relationship because they ended up starting to live in different residences.
Married couples who don’t live together. It sounds weird, doesn’t it? That we save love and allow love to flourish by living down the street from each other? But it works. Now it won’t work for everyone, but it’s worked for the couples that I’ve recommended to give it a shot.
How about you? Are you in a relationship where you truly love your partner, but you just can’t get along? Are you a night owl and there is an early bird? Are you ultra creative and free-spirited and they’re super conservative?
Are you arguing constantly? Has it just become a chore to be together versus Joy? If so, follow the above ideas.
How to survive living apart from your spouse?
Well, there are some couples that decided to stay in the same house, but one lived downstairs and the other lived upstairs.
Another couple I worked with stayed in the same house, but one used the spare bedroom as their main bedroom, and that seemed to help dismiss the differences in their lifestyles while keeping them together. So even though they were married but living separately in the same house, the space between them was letting their relationship flourish.
Married couples choosing to live apart are actually giving their relationship another chance by not suffocating each other. Being married but living in separate houses in many cases is better than being mentally spaced apart while living under the same roof, only for the relationship to become bitter. For married couples living separately, the space that they get can really work wonders for their relationship. Ever heard of the saying – ‘Distance Makes the Heart Grow Fonder?’ You bet it does for married couples who live apart! In fact, we need to break the taboo around couples who go for the arrangement of living separately while married.
Whatever you do, don’t settle for the nonsense of ridiculously argumentative relationships. Do something unique like staying married but living apart. Different. Act today, and it might just save the relationship you’re in tomorrow.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
More by David Essel