You’ve gone from not being able to keep your hands off one other to hardly touching each other at all. In fact you might not even remember the last time you had sex. And you never thought you two would come to this. But yet, here you are, reading this blog post and wondering “have we fallen into the roommate syndrome?” and, if so, “how can we get out?”
You’re in the right place.
About 70% of the couples who see me for counseling have fallen into the roommate trap. I’d go so far to say that we’re suffering from a roommate epidemic in this country. This has become a rampant problem in modern marriage. And, if you’re anything like the couples that come to my practice, you don’t want to live like this anymore. You are ready to improve your marriage.
Have we fallen into the roommate syndrome?
Most people assume that the roommate syndrome is about sex. But since sex is never just sex, the roommate syndrome is about more than just intercourse. It’s about the lack of passion and connection. And when there is no passion or connection, couples stop having sex. Sex is the symptom not the cause. It’s just a really noticeable and uncomfortable symptom. This wasn’t what you thought you were signing up for when you said “I do.”
So what are some tell-tale signs that a relationship is suffering from the roommate syndrome?
1. You two aren’t greeting each other when you come home.
Couples who feel connected and passionate about one another are intentional about their greetings and goodbyes. They are excited to see their partner when they come home and sorry to have to say goodbye when they leave. They use greetings and goodbyes as a way to show they care. On the flip side, couples who are disconnected tend to barely acknowledge their partner when they leave or come home or leave for the day.
2. Couple time isn’t a priority and most social engagements are made individually
You make decisions based on your individual desires rather than taking into account your partner and prioritizing the relationship. You are operating like you’re single again. Because, really, you’re two ships passing in the night. Even when you’re on the couch watching a movie together it’s like you’re on different planets.
3. You’re going to bed at different times
Sometimes this can’t be avoided. But going to bed at the same time is good protocol for couples if it’s possible. It’s a chance to snuggle, be intimate, and share pillow talk. Connected couples tend to kiss each other good night and get a little snuggling and/or sex in before falling asleep. Disconnected couples may as well be in two separate beds. There seems to be an invisible line drawn down the middle of your marital bed that neither crosses. Sleeping next to someone has never felt so lonely.
4. You barely touch each other, rarely express affection, and sex is infrequent (at best)
Touch is our most intimate form of communication. And a relationship without affection is a platonic relationship. And I don’t know many people who are happily partnered to someone with whom they share no affection.
5. The kids, fur babies, and household are the only things you really talk about these days
Connected couples talk about the ups and downs of their days, their hopes, and their dreams. Roommate rut couples talk about logistics of managing the household: who’s going to do the dishes, cook dinner, pick up the kids, take the dog/cat to the vet, etc. These are the least stimulating conversations that you can have and often make people feel like they are a shell of themselves with their partner.
6. You feel more connected to your friends and coworkers than you do your spouse
When you start preferring the company of everyone else over spending time with your partner, your relationship is in real trouble. Not only is this fertile ground for affairs. It also means that your relationship has become stagnant and stifling. And that’s not sustainable. Something needs to give. You two need to make a change.
If you are resonated with the list above, you have likely fallen into the roommate rut.
Why do couples fall into the roommate trap?
It’s simple. Couples get lazy. They stop prioritizing their relationship and lose focus on the life they want to build with their partner. Relationships require intentionality to thrive. Passion and connection needs to be a daily priority.
Relationships are built (and destroyed) on habits. As I mentioned to a reporter at Bustle, there are certain habits that erode connection. And there are others that build it. If you’re in the habit of connecting, your relationship will thrive. But, if you get lazy, it will suffer. But the good news is that, with hard work, you can have a happy, healthy relationship.
How do couples reconnect and rekindle their passion?
It’s the little things. The daily habits of connection. Start with being intentional about your hellos and goodbyes. Make sure that you’re making emotional and physical space for intimacy. Touch base with one another about your lives. Make room for deeper and more intimate conversation. Touch while you talk. And definitely check in next week for my Comprehensive Connection Guide!
And check out these related posts!