Living apart as a married couple can actually keep you together

Living apart as a married couple can actually keep you together. Photo | Photosearch

What you need to know:

The point is to find a system of marriage that works for everyone involved, and the better it works, the longer it lasts

Of the many weddings I attended this year, one of them was interesting in that the ceremony officiant stated the laws of the country before the couple said I do. These laws state that a, no one could be forced into marriage; that b, all properties were shared and that c, the parties involved did NOT have to live together.

I thought it was such a curious thing to say at a wedding, but now that I think about it, the disclaimer covered the major things that couples fight about. The first part says, did you come here by yourself, or you were forced to come here? Do you love me, or do you love my money, or do you feel like you are getting old as the village elders have told you, and that is what compels you?

The second part was on the finances. As we know, money is a major problem that breaks up many marriages. But if you’re coming into the marriage announcing that everything is halved from the get-go, no one can say they didn’t know the protocol later – and that includes the MO for taking items of clothing (such as hoodies and boxers), splitting food or tasting your partner’s food on dates, et al. I think that’s a great way to start.

And finally, no one has to live with anyone they don’t want to. I don’t know about you, but once you move out of your parents’ house, if you decide to, it can be hard to revert to living with a whole other grown human being in the same space. 

You’re used to your own things; you now have your own systems. Ideally, as my mother says, you leave your father’s house to go into your marital home – so that you don’t have time to build a separate life because you go straight into a conjoined one, I suppose, and so there’s nothing to re-adapt from. But considering the options out here, some of us have been single for a while. And so, in that single life, you like to have the plates in your kitchen placed just so; you can have people over whenever and however you want; and you know that when you leave your loofah in one place, you’ll find it there when you return.

Can you imagine adjusting to now living with someone who thinks your face towel is specifically for their nether regions? Or this: leaving one carton of yogurt in the fridge that’s supposed to last your whole week’s snack break, and finding that the pack has been inhaled in a day? Or –and I hear that this is a very serious pet peeve – having to live with someone who thinks the laundry basket is a suggestion instead of a destination for their funky gym socks? I have heard this particular complaint ad nauseum. It would appear that scientifically, the presence of a laundry basket correlates directly to a lack of aim. It’s like when a man sees organised laundry, he immediately decided where not to put it.

Not that it is all about housework, it’s also about overall happiness, and, as sociologist Vella DePaulo, a love for solitude. All this can be enhanced by – you guessed it - not living together. Instead of having directions on how to clean non-stick pans that no one is going to listen to, why not just maintain two homes as you were when you were dating? They can even be in the same apartment block, or estate. The blood pressure is definitely lower. Seeing each other when you plan to see each other is indubitably sweeter than seeing each other all the time. And, our grandparents did it, to some extent – many of our traditional ancestors were not sleeping in the same bed - sometimes, not even in the same room.

DePaulo adds that ‘there are two things that just about everyone wants…time with other people, and time to themselves.’ That doesn’t change just because you’re married. We all want to feel like our home is a shelter for us, not a place where picking up after someone like a maid is required – the second shift. Home is meant for rest, and a safe haven, and sometimes you relax best when you’re alone. The point is to find a system of marriage that works for everyone involved, and the better it works, the longer it lasts, right?

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