First Comes Love …
Then comes marriage, careers, babies, and weekends full of commitments. Before you know it, here comes the roommate stage. Marriage is hard y’all. I am fairly sure we are all told this, but in the peak of love and infatuation, we are so not in the mind space to hear it.
So what is the “roommate stage” of marriage? Typically this happens when we get comfortable with the daily routine. We stop putting in that extra effort that we did when we were dating and in the early stages of marriage. Between work and careers, we tend to put our spouse lower on our priority list. It may start gradually, like instead of spending time together after the kids go to bed, you find yourself headed to the bedroom to read and your husband stays in the living room to watch TV. You may start sleeping in separate bedrooms, skip attending events together, and not find anything to connect on. More often than not, only one of the partners in the marriage starts noticing and feeling the shift. When it’s brought to the attention of the other partner, the other partner may be in denial. Or they may even agree, but they find reasons for the change in the relationship: work is busy, kids are little and need more attention, new babies, all the big life changes. The longer the phase lasts and the less seen you feel, the harder it feels to try and get back to feeling like marriage and less like two people coexisting. It can be lonely and discouraging.
You may be reading and feeling relieved that there are many of us in this stage of life, or maybe you and your partner aren’t here yet. Either way, you may be asking, so what’s next? Do you fix it or forget it? Those are usually the only options you feel like you have, but they’re not. Let’s be 100% real. We change as we get older, as we experience life changes, as people come in and out of our lives, and that is okay. When we get married, we have no idea what life is going to hand us in the years to come and how we will mentally handle these events.
For many couples, this can be the time when the “D” word comes up. The feeling of disconnect is real, small arguments are now major blowouts, and date nights are less often if at all, so it feels like separation is the only option left. If you’re not already in some type of couple’s therapy, this is the time to start. It can help get through this phase and if getting through the phase isn’t looking possible, it can help a separation go smoother.
If therapy isn’t something you both can jump on board with, the two of you can try to tackle it yourself by making time to reconnect. Set aside time to spend together during the week and make sure it happens. I have friends who swear by scheduling sex every week or else it becomes something that one or both people do not make time for or aren’t mentally present for, even though they are physically present. Make date nights happen, even if that date is in the living room after the kids go to bed.
The biggest part is making sure both partners feel heard, feel seen, and feel appreciated. With all the “perfect” lives we see on social media and all the great things other spouses do that hear about from our friends, it is easy to fall into a slump and feel like our relationship isn’t as good as the others. People share what they want to share and most people don’t tell the true status of the things that happen behind closed doors. Marriage is hard and like life, it ebbs and flows. Being open and communicating with your partner is key, but if you’re in that roommate stage of life, don’t worry, you’re not alone.