I’m a 26-year-old wife of five years with a child. My husband and I live like brother and sister. We share the same apartment and sleep in the same bed but aren’t intimate. I’m no longer physically attracted to him largely due to his unemotional behaviour.
He’s a very traditional man and he stopped touching me a long time ago. He’s emotionally unavailable to me and deals with our child harshly at times. We never really dated long enough for me to notice this behaviour before we married.
He makes no advances on me and I also turn the other way. I would like to know what the impact of not divorcing but having separate lives is. Can something be done as a last resort before considering divorce? FRUSTRATED WIFE
The decision to get married comes with the risk of things not working out because of who you are and the type of person you’re married to. This is why marriage is not for everyone. This is also why you should never get into marriage with your eyes half-closed.
And it’s why you should never enter into marriage with a stranger. A stranger isn’t just someone you are unfamiliar with, it’s someone whose dreams, passions, life goals and purpose are unknown to you.
LIVING SEPARATE LIVES
Getting married to someone you don’t share a common purpose, value-system and maturity level with can ruin your life permanently.
Even so, most people charge their cellphones more often than they are willing to keep their marriages full of power. If your phone receives more daily charge than your spouse, then you’re spending way too much time talking to the wrong people rather than to the one you share the roof with.
This is how couples end up living separate lives. And the impact of living separate lives while in the same house is dire, especially when there’s a child involved.
STRENGTH IN TOGETHERNESS
Married couples are meant to not only live together but to share a life with one another. Huddling and connecting remain the natural glue that keeps a couple together. Intimacy at various levels keeps us connected and gives our marriages meaning. The blessing of marriage is meant to be the sharing of your lives, experiences, joys and burdens together. It is characterised by the intimacy of the relationship.
This intimacy is not limited to the physical realm – it should also cover the emotional and personal areas of your life. To short circuit this by living two separate lives is to leave critical marriage wires cut and dangling. And for this reason, you can never achieve the oneness that marriage is meant to bring to you.
There are many signs that a marriage has fallen apart. And living separate lives while sharing the same roof is definitely one of them. We understand living separate lives as having different interests, as well as pursuing different directions about life and values.
Furthermore, it means no sexual or emotional intimacy, lack of communication and no terms of endearment. Essentially, you have a marriage but no relationship. This, in our view, is as devastating as getting a divorce. It’s a toxic environment of deliberate and repeated hurtful behaviour.
But it can be stopped by making a decision to stay together or going separate ways. And that decision is completely yours. However, you should know there’s no marriage that can’t be salvaged.
BACK INTO ALIGNMENT
Getting your lives back into alignment, should you decide that’s what you want, doesn’t happen automatically. And it certainly won’t happen overnight. It will take a willingness from both of you, as well as a lot of work and time. In fact, you may want to start over and date one another again.
This process will enable you to get to know each other afresh. There are subtle decisions you make every day that bring a marriage closer together or push a couple further apart.
If decisions are made without regard for promoting marital intimacy, then it’s a matter of time before the small wedge creates a lasting chasm. Small kind and positive decisions and actions on a daily basis aggregate into a lifetime that reflects the heart of the husband and wife towards one another.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF
To help make your decision, think through various scenarios. For example, if you split up and saw your ex walking hand-in-hand with a new love interest, how would you feel? Do you believe your initial reasons for getting married are still valid? Can you point to seven practical steps you have taken to save your marriage?