When a couple decides to separate, there are so many factors involved in what comes next. There are couples in which one person decides to move out immediately. There are couples who sell the house and both find new residences. And, there are couples who are separated but living in the same house.
There are a few reasons a couple might decide to remain living together for awhile. Perhaps the biggest reason: the kids. Maybe they want some time to go by between telling the kids about the divorce and exposing them to such a big life change—where Mom or Dad gets a new place.
Another huge reason a couple might be separated but living in the same house: finances. Often times couples cannot afford two residences, and in my opinion, it is the reason many couples choose to stay married—as unhappy as they are.
A couple may also remain living together because they are undecided on whether or not they should get divorced, and they need time to sort things out. So, they figure instead of jumping into a new living situation, they can live separate lives in one house while they figure out if they can make things work.
All of these reasons are understandable, and regardless of the reason, no one should judge a couple for any decision they make regarding a living situation while separated. Every couple’s situation is unique and no one knows all the facts except for the couple.
But what happens when a couple decides to separate and stay in the same house…and then decide to stay in the same bed? That’s what’s going on with this couple:
My wife and I are separated but living under the same roof. It was really weird at first but slowly getting better. We still sleep in the same bed and still get intimate from time to time. It’s like we just don’t know what we really want. One minute we are arguing and the next minute we are really sweet to each other. I really don’t know where to go from here. We have one car and there are 4 kids involved. Any advice would be appreciated.
Ok, so I just wrote “no one should judge a couple for any decision they make regarding a living situation while separated,” so without being judgmental, I am going to talk about why what they are doing is so wrong on so many levels. Again, not judging, just trying to offer my opinion in hopes it will help.
Here’s why sleeping in the same bed is a bad idea for those separated:
1. If they have told their kids they are separating, then the kids are either completely confused, or are assuming their parents have changed their minds and are getting back together. This could be very traumatic later on if/when they decide to split. Plus, it hurts the kids in grieving and accepting the split because they are holding onto hope.
2. Of course sleeping in the same bed is going to lead to intimacy from time to time. We are humans. We get lonely and we need physical love, and the sex is safe and familiar and sentimental. Why is this bad? It’s not unless you are trying to figure out whether or not you want to make your life together work or if you are trying to move on.
Why? Because these two people have no chance of moving forward with anything because technically they are still together. Sharing the same bed doesn’t allow them to think clearly, to act reasonably, and to remember why their relationship is on the brink of divorce. Think about it, after a woman has sex with a man, she’s thinking, “Awww, that felt so good. He’s so cute and cuddly and I always loved his body…” Now, she can’t think about what went wrong in the marriage because her mind is clouded with post-sex adoration. Until the next fight. Then she regrets the sex and is back in the “I want a divorce” mode. This is an unhealthy, a vicious, paralyzing cycle that can become toxic.
Here’s the thing. If two people are separated and living in the same house, I get it. You do what you have to do. But there is the couch, there is the guest bedroom, there’s the basement, perhaps. One person needs to sleep in one of those places to establish the separation if the two want to be on the road to making a firm decision on the divorce.
Sadly, things with this couple will most likely remain like this for as long as they share a bed. One could become jealous if the other starts to date, they might go to bed really angry some nights, and they might rationalize a million times why they can make it work. Why? Because having your partner in bed with you makes you feel safe and secure. It’s the easy way out. It’s comfortable. And wishfully, you think you can make it work.
I’m not saying this couple can’t work things out. On the contrary, I think the fact that they are sleeping in the same bed and having occasional sex speaks volumes about their genuine feelings of love, and therefore offers hope and a chance for a reconciliation.
But, neither will really have a clear picture about what they want or how they can make the relationship work (or not) until they really separate. And “really separate” means separate beds and no physical contact. It isn’t easy, but I think in the end, being apart physically will help them either stay apart or realize they want to give their marriage another try.