Willow Grove Counselling, Inc. - Specializing in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)

Spouses are Not Roomies…Marriage is more than shared costs

“I’m so bored! He watches football on Monday; wrestling on Tuesday…Friday is guy’s night; on Saturday we get together with friends. He is always tired…we never do anything together…we even celebrated our anniversary with friends…”

These lamenting words were overheard as two friends pushed themselves through their rigorous Stairmaster workout. Actually ‘lamenting’ barely captures the tone of her comments – she used a single expletive to elaborate on her level of anger and the state of her relationship. It is interesting that these thoughts and feelings have not been shared with this woman’s partner.

Can a marriage endure is the couple does not spend time together? An obvious answer if ‘no’; however, in many situations, two people who start out as lovers, create a marriage that gradually evolves into a relationship that is based on the rules and mores of roommates rather than marriage partners.

They share the same living space but not life. Given a superficial look, it may appear to be a marriage, however, on examination, we see two people pursuing separate interests and friendships with no common dreams or accomplishments to achieve as a couple.

This young woman releasing her anger to exercise and a friend’s listening ear may be bored, and many not choose to do anything about it. Or, she may choose career and life challenges outside the marriage. Regardless of her success in those pursuits, she will feel incomplete, maybe even numb, because nothing can substitute for the care and love in a relationship.

The men in these ‘roommate’ marriages are often surprised and may reply with a quick retort, “Bu I’m a good provider, a good father, and I am always at home…and we go out once a week…what more do you want?” If the woman has courage, she will indicate her need and desire to spend quality time with just him, building on what was started when they chose to marry.

How is this dilemma solved? We know that, in general, men and women are socialized differently. Men interact around an activity; women interact around conversation. Televisions and telephones need to be silenced; children need to be put to bed at a reasonable time; energy should be conserved to put some life back into the relationship; and couples need to engage in activities that are consistent with being in tune with the other’s interests.

And this may involve a degree of compromise. This young woman may need to learn a little about football in order to participate in her partner’s passions; and he may need to agree to engage in conversations to share their joys, fears, and dreams, in an effort to share life together.

And this conversation is more than asking, “How was your day?”

Originally published in the 'Tri-Cities News' as a voluntary contribution to the community from Arthur (Art) Rathgeber.

Willow Grove Counselling, Inc. - specializing in CBT.
Art Rathgeber, EdD., R.Psych, Certified Cognitive Therapist and Alexandra Rathgeber, M.Ed., RCC provide Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Depression/Anxiety.
With an office in Port Coquitlam - easy access from Coquitlam, Port Moody, Maple Ridge, Burnaby, New Westminster, Pitt Meadows, and Langley.