By Amanda Clegg, Relationship Coach
Yep, the roommate phase in relationships. I see it all the time in my work. Whether the couple is newly into their marriage or have spent decades together – it seems to be a normal part of partnership. But, just because something is typical, doesn’t mean that we should accept it – especially if we want something different.
It usually begins to happen when we hit the “comfortable co-habitating’’ stage. In many ways, I actually see it as a beautiful thing. It can mean that we feel safe and secure. That we feel so at home with our person, we can just fully relax and be at ease. Where I see it become an issue is when the busyness of life, routine, kids, work, and stress begins to divert our attention away from the very person that we have committed ourselves to.
We just don’t see them anymore. And they don’t see us.
My clients continuously express that the biggest problem with roommate syndrome is the lack of intimacy. And I ain’t just talking about the hanky panky. I mean kissing, cuddling, holding hands, eye contact, quality time, meaningful conversations (not just which kid has to go to what practice!), to name a few. Essentially, we stop dating. And dating is something that must be continuously cultivated in our relationships!
This lack of intimacy begins to affect other areas of the relationship as well. From my experience, couples who are disconnected intimately are experiencing more conflict, difficulty in communicating, lack of empathy towards one another, and honestly just bickering in their day to day lives. It sometimes leaves them questioning, “Do I even still like this person?”.
While your reasons for feeling like a roommate may be different, the nearly Universal path to get back to romanticism is the same – CONNECTING.
That is, taking time to really see, hear, and be with each other. Doing this in big ways (like going on vacation or actually having sex) is fantastic, but for me I see life as being built on the small moments. Touching each other as you pass by one another in the home, stopping in for a kiss or a hug (try it for 6 seconds!), cuddling on the couch, asking more than a “How was your day?”, sitting down to have a meal together with no phones and lotsa eye contact, going for a walk together and holding hands as you do so, taking a moment when you wake up to snuggle in bed, having a shower together and washing each other’s hair, talking about how you fell in love and what you appreciate about each other.
There are countless things that we can do to connect. And the couples that I work with that are 20+ years in their marriage have reported time and time again that they wish they had taken more time to do this. They realized just how much time they actually had for intimacy, even with chaotic schedules and kids running around, they recognized that there was always time…they just weren’t prioritizing it.
So, my encouragement to you if you’re feeling like a roommate rather than a romantic partner to your sweetie, is to be intentional about connection. In the small, medium, and large ways.
Get present in your body, look to really see, touch to really feel, speak to really hear, and experience to really connect.
Amanda helps teens, individuals, and couples create secure relationships within themselves and with each other. Her favorite (and most impactful!) tool to use is the Enneagram, which deepens awareness, understanding, and compassion so that we all can continue to foster meaningful connections in our day to day lives, moment by moment.
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