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Married Roommates: How To Go From A Relationship That Just Survives To A Marriage That Thrives

By Talia and Allen Wagner

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This book offers practical advice on how to re-kindle the flame of a marriage that has settled into complacency and emotional separation.

Synopsis

Are You Married But Living Like Roommates?

Whether living parallel or being preventative to avoid this relationship rut, this marital guide gives you the tools to ensure that you do it right.

An Easy Do It Yourself Manual To A Better Relationship

Talia and Allen Wagner, Los Angeles based Relationship Experts and Marriage and Family Therapists, provide couples with a common sense, doable approach to understanding each other and working together to create a relationship you want. Use the practical tools and strategies to show your partner validation and interest, move away from disagreements and get back to the feeling of being happy together.

Gain real life skills to build teamwork, connection and intimacy.

This book helps you reclaim your marriage by learning how to:

Communicate effectively without assumptions and misinterpretations
Resolve conflict by avoiding fighting or escalation
Gain the tools to stop the disrespect, jabs,and low blows
Grow the attraction, intimacy, and sex
Create new routines and reinvigorate the stale parts of your relationship
Prioritize one another and work as a team

The fate of a marriage turning into a relationship where people are married roommates is not a hard one to envision. I know how things have often been between my roommates and I, days without any kind of communication whatsoever aside from a nod of the head or a wave as one goes off to be alone, schedules that are not always communicated to others, awkward silences as conversations drift into areas of irritation and annoyance, and the like. How does one avoid such a fate? As someone who is not nor has ever been married, this is not the sort of thing I have expertise on, but it is a subject I consider to be of importance, and it is good to see that a married couple has felt confident enough in their own relationship to give others insight on how one can keep the flame of romance alive despite the ravages of time and the entropy that comes into relationships that have been taken for granted and not worked on. And if that is of interest to you, this is a book well worth reading.


One of the more notable aspects of this book is the way that every chapter ends with a series of tips that gives the reader a chance to apply what the book has been talking about. Not all of these tips are particularly good ones--the tips on intimacy include advising couples to watch X-rated movies together as a bonding experience, which assumes that they are not possessed of the highest degree of morality when it comes to their entertainment choices. That said, despite some slipups, including calling truth subjective when what is being considered as subjective is the interpretation one of the partners has about what the other is doing in a given situation, this book gives generally good advice even if that advice is hardly surprising to someone who understands the massive importance of trust and communication within any kind of relationship. Like many books that can be considered self-help books, this book does not give much in the way that would be new or surprising information, but rather gives that information in a way that is appealing to the reader and may prompt some understanding of how things can go awry between husband and wife and how this can be corrected.

Reviewed by

I read a wide variety of books, usually reviewing three a day, from diverse sources, including indie presses and self-publishing, and I enjoy talking about unfamiliar authors and introducing them to my blog audience.

Synopsis

Are You Married But Living Like Roommates?

Whether living parallel or being preventative to avoid this relationship rut, this marital guide gives you the tools to ensure that you do it right.

An Easy Do It Yourself Manual To A Better Relationship

Talia and Allen Wagner, Los Angeles based Relationship Experts and Marriage and Family Therapists, provide couples with a common sense, doable approach to understanding each other and working together to create a relationship you want. Use the practical tools and strategies to show your partner validation and interest, move away from disagreements and get back to the feeling of being happy together.

Gain real life skills to build teamwork, connection and intimacy.

This book helps you reclaim your marriage by learning how to:

Communicate effectively without assumptions and misinterpretations
Resolve conflict by avoiding fighting or escalation
Gain the tools to stop the disrespect, jabs,and low blows
Grow the attraction, intimacy, and sex
Create new routines and reinvigorate the stale parts of your relationship
Prioritize one another and work as a team

MARRIAGE ADRIFT

JOSH & TAMMI

Dreams of the Road Ahead

Josh was elated. He finally asked her, and she said yes. It took months to plan the perfect proposal, to get her family in on it, and to buy her the ring she wanted. His heart was still racing, but as he looked over at Tammi, it swelled with love and pride. After five years of dating, they were finally getting married.

Hours later, lying in bed together, Tammi’s eyes still sparkled as she excitedly laid out plans for the wedding. They didn’t sleep much that night, talking for hours about their future.

FROM TOGETHER TO MARRIAGE

Joining two lives in marriage is exciting. You spend hours dreaming of a future together, entangled in your visions and hopes for lifelong happiness. Couples excitedly whisper sweet promises to one another, envisioning deeply fulfilling years ahead. You fantasize about adorable kids who inherit her eyes and his smile and project your hopes into this imagined life.

At the onset of life together, you are eager and willing to put aside your differences. Sure, you may argue and disagree at times, but getting along is more easily achievable, as you want to forgive each other, rush to accept your own faults and mistakes, and happily engage in makeup sex. You spend your time thinking of how to make one another smile, splurging on the relationship, and prioritizing one another.

When thinking about marriage, you optimistically embrace the idea that everything will just work out. Your tastes and interests will gel together, and everything will fall into place. Your love will be enough to get you through all possible issues that may arise, and the spontaneity, intent, and fun will only get better from here on out.

While you have been warned by family members and friends that marriage will not be easy, it does not take much effort to dismiss that idea. You wholly believe that your expectations will become reality.

When the time comes for making the preparations for the wedding, you throw yourselves into the production—spending an enormous amount of time on getting everything for your big day to be perfect. There is usually so much to do that couples’ attention and primary focus generally revolves around the logistics of getting married.

Down the road, you realize that the unfamiliar and challenging landscape of married life does not always fit the ideas and hopes that you had going in.

JOSH & TAMMI

Five Years Later

As the day came to a close and Josh still didn’t say anything, Tammi realized that he forgot. It was their fifth wedding anniversary, and there was no gift, no card, and no acknowledgment. She was crestfallen. Josh had always made a big deal of celebrations, so his forgetfulness about this day was particularly hurtful. She thought back to his elaborate proposal, which involved all her family and seemingly half their town. He used to always be so over the top, but time had changed him.

Tammi glanced over at Josh sprawled on the sofa and couldn’t help but feel sad. They had so many dreams, ones that she now knew would never happen. In those fantasies, he was going to open a restaurant and she was to be the head chef. That never happened. These days he still worked for his uncle, and she had to go back to work part-time at the preschool after their son was born. Money was always tight. There were months where it was so bad that she had to ask her parents for help.

Life didn’t mirror their expectations, and they blamed it on each other.

THE REALITY OF MARRIAGE

Going into marriage, you theoretically understand that your life will change, but the awareness and insight of the reality of married life does not kick in until you are deep in it. As in Josh and Tammi’s situation, expectations and beliefs are subjected to a metamorphosis when the day-to-day demands alter and real life settles in after the high of the nuptials.

Time fully crystalizes these changes, and only then does your perspective start to align with reality. The distance between our early expectations and real life can be massive, leading to letdown and disillusionment with your partner. Because you have unrealistic ideals going in, reality can disappoint and lead you to see what is actually normal as dysfunctional and broken. It is all too easy to feel duped and to see your partner as now different from the person you married.

A FUNCTIONAL AND EMOTIONAL PARTNERSHIP

The day-to-day reality of marriage forms a functional partnership, which joins the existing emotional one. The emotional bond is fueled by the love, fun, excitement, and sexuality between two people, while the functional one is the logical, realistic mechanics behind it. On top of making one another feel loved and connected, marriage means that couples now have to contend with big-ticket items such as career realities, financial pressures, health management, and retirement planning, as well as the more mundane functions like utility payments and food shopping.

The functional partnership starts a process in which you become increasingly dependent on one another for the ongoing maintenance of life. While it is initially exciting to build your home life and new routines around one another, as you settle in, time and regularity eventually transform the novel into the routine norm. The reality of creating a budget, taking out the trash, or dealing with a leaky roof are considerably less exciting and sexy. Although the functional side of the marriage must be managed or else, the emotional side often gets waylaid by the “busy-ness” of life. It is seen more as a luxury, “if there is time,” which then upsets the balance of the two—the emotional and the functional—needed for a happy marriage.

Through the ups and downs of years of marriage, the priority between your roles as functional and emotional partners may morph in unintentional ways. The functional part tends to increase and mushroom in many different ways as you grow together, adding more appendages and spinning plates to your everyday life.

The dictionary defines functional as “intended to be used, practical rather than attractive”—an interesting definition considering that for many Married Roommates the functional begins to overtake the emotional and, with time, may be the only part of the partnership that survives.

Simple acts such as speaking to one another while multitasking robs you of the ability to be present with each other. So does eating in front of the TV, letting phones interrupt your time together, and going to sleep at different times. We see this process play out with our clients all the time—of course, priorities just naturally shift with time, responsibilities get prioritized over fun, work becomes more important than spending time together, efficiency overtakes quality, and we compartmentalize the good and zero in on the bad.

THE SHARED LIFE

During your marriage, you will create most of the long-standing systems of your life. As your family grows and your careers gain traction, life’s demands require more of your time, attention, and focus.

What starts out as a small mom-and-pop operation with fewer duties and responsibilities grows in scale through the years. Couples must figure out how to juggle multiple balls in the air when it comes to their shared life. Shared life includes everything that couples jointly oversee and manage: the house, bills, schedule and planning, kids, extended families, social networks, chores, finances, employment, meal planning, and much more. It does not take long to realize that to manage this ever-growing list of shares successfully necessitates a well-oiled machine of structure and routine.

These increasing demands can take you from being a young, carefree, and fun-loving couple to a busy, rushed duo, where responsibilities usually get prioritized over time together. You try your best to juggle the important events in life, but often your marriage gets lost in the shuffle—and many times is overlooked.

THE BUSINESS OF BEING TOGETHER

As the demands of domestic life pile sky high, couples’ conversations typically turn into a long to-do list: don’t forget to pay the mortgage, call the plumber about that leaking pipe in the yard, write an absence letter for the kids, sign them up for that enrichment class, talk to the neighbor about moving the trash cans, and remember to call Aunt Sally for her birthday. The list seems endless.

This reality of marriage usually leads couples to do an admirable job of maintaining the functional part of the relationship, but the intimate, emotional connection commonly stalls out. You get so busy taking care of building and upholding the infrastructure of your life that you often don’t do as good a job of taking care of each other or, for that matter, even yourself.

In the beginning of the relationship, feeding your connection was effortless. Fueled by the excitement of a shared attraction, new couples naturally work hard to understand one another, to be supportive and complementary. Those behaviors reinforced your interest in one another and nourished the connection. However, that sense of newness—the butterflies and the desire to spend every waking moment together—does not last for most people over time.

TOM & CYNTHIA

Angry Silences and Loneliness

Everyone had gone home for the day, yet Tom lingered at the office. Nothing to rush home to, he thought. Life at home had changed drastically since he and Cynthia had gotten married last year. It started out great. They spent their honeymoon in Costa Rica, taking long walks by the ocean and making love every chance they got. They were inseparable the first few months after the wedding, but over the past few months something changed at home, making it increasingly difficult to stay positive and hopeful.

It seemed as if in the span of a year and a half, the novelty of marriage wore off. In the evenings they often found themselves doing separate activities, in different rooms. It felt as if they were drifting apart in other ways despite his attempts to figure out what else had changed. Cynthia resisted talking about it with him. Whenever he tried to discuss the state of their marriage, she insisted everything was fine.

Thinking about the last couple of months felt painful. He thought he knew what was wrong but had no idea how to fix it—especially with Cynthia’s unwillingness to acknowledge the shift. Work had ramped up and he had multiple projects going at the same time, which sometimes helped because it kept him busy and distracted. This distraction would replace the constant worry he would cycle into, that she had fallen out of love with him or, worse, that there was someone else. Unfortunately, when he wasn’t focused on work, he brooded on the issue.

As he gathered his things to leave the office, Tom dreaded the arrival home and the lackluster reception he would undoubtedly get from his wife. Tom couldn’t help feeling that she didn’t like him much anymore. Instead of fighting, she just shut down, freezing him out. There was no real way to tell what she thought, since she refused to open up. It felt as if he had tried to get through to her in so many ways, but it all fell flat. He didn’t even try to initiate sex any longer, as he had grown wary of the constant rejection.

Cynthia heard Tom’s key in the door. Not getting up, she reflected back to the days when she couldn’t wait for him to get back home from work, greeting him at the door before he could even get his key out. She seemed to be doing a lot of reflecting lately. It made her sad. He came into the room and, without even so much as a greeting, continued on to the home office they shared. He would stay in the office for the rest of the night, except for when he came out to ask her about dinner.

Cynthia heard Tom’s key in the door. Not getting up, she reflected back to the days when she couldn’t wait for him to get back home from work, greeting him at the door before he could even get his key out. She seemed to be doing a lot of reflecting lately. It made her sad. He came into the room and, without even so much as a greeting, continued on to the home office they shared. He would stay in the office for the rest of the night, except for when he came out to ask her about dinner.

As usual, they ate dinner quietly. Mostly he answered work emails at the table. It was normal. After dinner, he returned to work at his computer, then watched ESPN on the couch. Cynthia watched TV in the bedroom and eventually went to sleep around eleven. She used to try to get him to go to bed with her. She used to try to get his attention. She used to do a lot of things. Most of them she stopped doing and now only performed the most basic tasks of their life together.

He didn’t say anything at first, probably didn’t even notice, but once she rejected his flimsy attempts at finding a Band-Aid to repair their broken marriage, he was livid, and as payback, he started ignoring her. She didn’t believe those attempts were real. Cynthia thought that Tom just missed having her waiting at his beck and call. She resisted talking to him, convinced that he couldn’t change, so why even bother.

Few couples are able to maintain the initial intimacy of a relationship over the long haul. Not because it is impossible, but because once the newness fades, you stop putting in what you did in the beginning. As you grow used to one another, the urgency lessens and your behaviors predictably change to reflect this shift. Getting more comfortable with each other naturally reduces your efforts to impress, to make sure that time spent together is fun and exciting. You may call or text less, dress down more, and those romantic evenings out on the town happen less often, if at all. You may give each other the perfunctory kiss in the morning and evening, but you get too busy to think about calling one another during the day, just to say hi or share a funny story that happened on the way to work.

As a result, couples who start out with incredible attraction can end up flatlining. Those who once couldn’t take their hands off each other, or found it hard to be apart, now rarely brush up against one another or even think to send a text throughout the day.

Conversations have become mostly a means of information sharing, instead of lively dialogue and interested chatter. Interactions that would have formerly been flirty and fun have become no-nonsense to-do lists and “don’t forget” reminders. Any sort of romantic connection and passion between two people gets absorbed into the mechanics of daily living. Interactions are devoid of connecting moments, and the everyday operations of living together become the essence of the relationship.

That’s how you become Married Roommates.

JANNA & GABE

Worlds Apart

“I’m leaving!” Janna called out as she closed the front door behind her. Most evenings, once she tended to the kids’ homework and evening routine, she usually went back to the office for an hour or two to plow through all the paperwork on her desk. It was better than sitting next to Gabe on the couch just watching the evening shows.

She wondered when precisely their relationship had downgraded to this uninspiring tedium. Other than living in the same house, it felt as if she and Gabe shared nothing in common. They hadn’t spent time together or showed interest in one another in a long time. Gabe wasn’t a bad man. He worked, took care of his responsibilities, and loved his kids, but it felt as if they were worlds apart.

Does this sound familiar? If it does, and you feel that your marriage is going down this path—taking you from passionate lovers to mere roommates—this book may serve as a wake-up call. It’s time to prioritize your marriage over other activities that have taken over as you drifted away from one another. While that task may seem daunting, your marriage is more than repairable, if you put the work in. And we’re here to help.

At the end of each chapter, we will bullet point the main ideas and thoughts.

Let’s get started.

About the author

Talia and Allen Wagner are Los Angeles based relationship experts and marriage and family therapists. They have been guiding couples to success around the world for years. Their focus is on providing practical real life tools to improve communication, connection and togetherness. view profile

Published on April 19, 2019

Published by Newman Miller House

60000 words

Contains explicit content ⚠️

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Sex & relationships

Reviewed by

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