When you look over at the person that you are living with, do you see a partner or roommate?
If the two of you are in a romantic relationship, then hopefully you see a partner. However, it is unfortunately common for couples to transition into roommate mode.
In other words, over time, you might notice less romance, love, and intimacy. Sure, you might be doing great in your relationship as cooperative roommates. You might even function as a well-oiled machine – getting the kids to school, soccer practice, having meals together. Nevertheless, you may also long for the romantic connection you used to have.
Partner or Roommate? Red Flags That You’re Headed in the Wrong Direction
Ideally, you and your partner will notice in advance if your relationship is transitioning from romantic to feeling more like roommates. Or one of you will and will bring it to the other’s attention. But sometimes we don’t notice as this is happening. Life gets busy.
You’re constantly trying to keep up with all that you need to do. Therefore, you let yourselves slide into a comforting companionship. Hell you’re tired and it’s easier! Problem is, before you know it, you might not be able to tell if you have a partner or roommate on the other side of the dinner table. You might even have forgotten what brought you both together and how you ended up here. Perhaps you feel a bit lonely.
Thankfully, you can catch the problem early if you look for these red flags:
- You aren’t having sex. Or the sex is mechanical.
- Other physical affection has slowed or stalled.
- You talk about perfunctory things instead of how you’re really feeling.
- You don’t talk much at all.
- The two of you do more things separately than together.
- You have stopped trying to please each other. Romance has disappeared.
If you notice these signs, then you need to make a change. Otherwise, you’ll have a great roommate, but you won’t have a partner. Moreover, as time goes on, you may resent that your partner has become just a roommate. Then, you might not even retain much in the roommate half of the equation either.
It’s Time to Talk about the Problem
Recognizing that you have a problem is a good start to making a change. However, you need to actually implement a strategy for change. The first thing you need to do is to talk about the issue.
Approach your partner with kindness. Acknowledge all of the things that you love about sharing a home with them. Then, share that you miss being romantic partners. And that you’re willing to do what it takes to get that connection back. Speak from your feelings. Then invite them to share their feelings.
When they do share their feelings about the “partner or roommate” situation, listen. Drop any defensiveness. Really hear how your partner feels. Working together to communicate in a deep, meaningful, shared way is a key step in regaining your romance.
How to Put the Romance Back in Your Home
Working together, you can brainstorm ways to get the romance back. The two of you might want to read up on love languages, which are different ways that people express and experience love. You can let each other in on the secret of your love languages, which will go a long way towards helping you come up with romantic ideas.
Next, schedule time every day or every week or any agreed upon frequency to really talk with one another. Put it in your calendar and make it happen! It doesn’t have to be long – 30 minutes or an hour, but it does have to be consistent. Here are some helpful parameters:
- No devices or distractions.
- Don’t talk about minutiae. This isn’t the time to figure out who picks the kids up from art class.
- Share what happened in your day. Include emotions and detail. You might share one thing that stressed you and another for which you are grateful.
- Take turns. Be authentic with one another. Listen as if you’re on a first date.
Of course, you could also talk with a roommate. Don’t forget that physical intimacy is a big part of what makes you partners. Therefore, make sure to make time for it. Hug and kiss one another every day. Hold hands, exchange backrubs, and schedule sex if you need to. Read here for some more ideas on keeping the intimacy alive.
If you are struggling to work things out, counseling can help. Learn more about couples therapy here.