Staying ?

Presumably, you have explored, in great depth, the leaving option and have actually made a fully informed choice to adopt this staying option.

Good for You.

As you have recognised the reality that you are to live in a co-habitation or room mate situation - not a marriage - it would be timely to formalise various aspects of this reality.

At the get go, moving out of the bedroom is the thing to do. As is discarding each and every aspect of thinking about your room mate in spousal terms. You do need to be respectful, you do need to be considerate. You do NOT need to engage on any areas that are unique to a marriage.

Splitting your finances would be a good start, together with splitting expenses. You do not want to be subsidising your room mates lifestyle (nor have them subsidising yours). You need to both need to be financially independent of each other.

If your room mate is reluctant about such a split of finances and expense sharing then you really will have to re-visit that leaving option, as an inequitable financial split means that the room mate scenario will not work any better than the dysfunctional marriage did.

Moving on, your next area is that of your social life. Whereas you may still have mutual friends, it is imperative that you develop your own social network. Sometimes (if it suits you) you may both go out together, but for the most part it will be up to you to run your social life, and much of that will NOT involve your room mate. Nor will you be involved very much in your room mates social life. You will both be running your own social lives, including the odd time where they co-incide and you attend some things together, where it may happen to suit you both.
Implicit in this is that your room mate may choose to root other people (as might you). What you do is none of your room mates business, just as theirs is none of your business. Don't ask, don't tell. What your room mate does is not your concern (as long as they are pulling their weight on expenses) and vice versa.

If there is any reticence on your room mates part to embrace this aspect of the situation, then again, you need to revisit that leaving option again. As with the finances, the room mate situation won't work any better than the dysfunctional marriage did in regard to your social life.

Indeed, it is a fact that even living with a room mate requires levels of co-operation and consideration for others that refusive types do not always have. You may find that your refusive spouse - apart from having been a dud marital partner - is not much chop as a room mate either.

It is actually highly likely that the room mate scenario will prove just as unsatisfactory as the dysfunctional marriage was.

For that reason alone, you still need to know how a divorce would shake out for you (you gathered this information when you considered the leaving option back at the start of this story) and you must have a do-able exit strategy.

There are just as many potential pitfalls in the staying as room mates scenario as there are in the dysfunctional marriage scenario. Any of which could blow up the arrangement at very short notice.

Good luck with your choice of staying.

Tread your own path.

bazzar bazzar
56-60, M
6 Responses Jan 3, 2013

In's called "married, living single."

Beautifully stated. Captures my situation precisely.

If you choose the roommate option and forgo the marital one, there are still more things to consider. I took these from an article about "roommate responsibilities" on WikiHow (How to Be a Good Roommate).

Be upfront about your expectations. Set boundaries and stick with them.

Respect each other’s privacy and personal space. This is especially important if you share a small living area.

Follow through with your obligations. If you say you're going to clean the kitchen, etc., then do it.

Be prepared to compromise. Not everyone has the same ideas about day to day living as you do. You can't ask your roommate to change himself or herself if you're not willing to change as well. (You already know this only too well!)

Clean up after yourself. Try to agree on a minimum standard of cleanliness that you both abide by.

Be courteous of your roommate’s sleeping habits. (This one can be interpreted in a couple of different ways!)

Spend time with your roommate. Do something nice for your roommate every so often.

Stay flexible. Understand what’s going on in your roommate’s life, and accommodate them.

Communicate. As in any relationship, living with someone requires a great deal of work. Communication is key in making the relationship work well long-term, or even for a short time. If a problem comes up, it's better to talk about it right away than to try and ignore it and let it get worse. If you simply cannot communicate openly and there is tension all the time. Find a new roommate. The stress is just not worth it. You may be better friends if you choose to live separate. (Oh, the irony of this one! ROFL)

Share. Or decide what you will share. Decide what contents in the fridge are ok and which are off limits. (This applies to all sorts of aspects of your life together.)

Divide responsibilities: If your roommate is a good cook and you are not, have him cook and you do the dishes. It may also be a good idea to set up a chores schedule, where you will take turns alternating cleaning the bathroom, taking out the trash, etc.

As Bazzar points out, once you start really thinking through the "roommate option" there are complications and requirements that may not initially be obvious.

Nice checklist. I seem to be able to check all the items, yay, except that my social life is not where I'd ideally like it to be (but that is a compromise between social life and work, unaffected by my spouse), and, while I don't care if my spouse outsources, I do not wish to, because I am just turned off by human sexuality in general.

Excellent "how to" for the roommate option. Except for the outsourcing part, this describes how my ex and I were able to stay together so long (too long). I would add - take separate vacations if possible!

It's very important to develop your own social network and activities. This is the start of your social support network when you finally do leave.

Brilliant!! Quite explicitly stated in this 'staying' option is that the lines are clearly drawn. It is a social contract to which both room-mates are held accountable, and not some co-dependent 'stay and bear it' sacrifice.

Excellent: there are no easy choices, and the apparently comfortable ones are not.

There is a sword of Damocles hanging over this choice.