Over time, as you become more comfortable with having your husband around, you might settle into a comfortable routine. If you didn’t live together beforehand, everything about the first few months of marriage might feel a little strange. Are they really going to be in my space, all the time, for the rest of my life?
Marriage has its ups and downs, and it has its seasons, too. Some are more preferable to others, and if you’re stuck in the roommate stage or experiencing its early days, you might be desperate to get out of it, by whatever means necessary. Or, you might even feel a little relieved. But not only is this stage common in marriage, it’s perfectly normal – that doesn’t mean you have to dwell in it for the long term, though. Wondering how to get out of the roommate stage with your husband? Try one (or all) of these things.
What Is the Roommate Stage?
Many people estimate that the roommate stage hits us about two years into our marriage. By then, the novelty of being newlyweds has worn off, and you’re faced with the reality of who your husband actually is as a person, not just as your new husband, and who you are when you’re with him.
Sometimes, this isn’t what you expect. Sure, your husband is kind, lovely, and helpful, but he’s also dirty, grumpy, or a big-picture person rather than a detailed person. Some of his quirks are less endearing than others, and slowly but surely, whether it’s due to a big argument or just the passage of time, he starts to feel like someone you sleep next to rather than your soulmate. Add kids, jobs, and competing schedules and responsibilities into the mix, and the distance between you can grow even bigger. It doesn’t have to be this way, though, but it will take some effort on your part.
Affection in many ways might feel instinctual to us, but in the roommate stage, it can feel more like a choice. At its heart, that’s what a good, healthy marriage is: a daily choice. Every day, on both the good days and bad days, you have to wake up and choose to love your spouse. If all of us relied solely on feeling or instinct to love our spouses or be affectionate, things would go downhill very quickly.
Touch and affection might feel small, but they can be truly meaningful, especially if your man is thinking, “She hasn’t touched me in a while, so she must not care about me.” Men and women express their love in different ways, and love languages aside, a peck, a kiss, a hug, touching their shoulder, or even swatting their butt as they walk by can let them know you’re thinking about them even if it doesn’t seem like it.
Do Something Together
Your husband might feel like your roommate at this time, but he is certainly more important and more meaningful than even the best roommate you’ve ever had. There are things he understands about you and sees in you that no one else will, and treating your marriage as something that needs to be maintained can feel difficult, but it's crucial to longevity.
Inviting your spouse along for even the simplest of tasks – like putting gas in your car or going grocery shopping together – carves out time in your day for the two of you. You don’t have to go on a month-long cruise for the two of you to feel reconnected, which is the key to getting out of the roommate stage. It can be as simple as taking a walk together or making a meal. If you’re feeling more adventurous, do something that you’ve never done together, like rock climbing or paintballing. Anything that helps you rediscover and remember what you love and cherish about your husband can be your go-to place or activity for getting out of your slump.
Don’t Hide, Be Direct
If the roommate stage in your marriage was kickstarted by an argument, a disagreement, or even by a misunderstanding, it’s important to set things straight. Avoiding each other because you don’t want to talk, let alone be in the same room, is poisonous for both of you and your relationship as a whole.
Take some space or a few hours if you need to, and then come to your husband to voice your concerns. Remember, don’t accuse him of anything or let your temper influence your words. Use how you’re feeling to initiate the conversation and genuinely listen to his responses. Apologize to him if necessary, but never leave things to become even worse from a lack of action on your part.
Put Your Phone Away
When we treat our husbands like we’d treat a roommate, we treat them like they’re one person in a succession of people that we just happen to live with, not someone we’ve made vows to or share children with. It’s easy to listen passively to them, or scroll on your phone constantly when they’re talking, but not only is that disrespectful on your part, it’s hurtful to them and will likely breed resentment between the two of you. Not to mention, if they did the same thing, you’d probably feel unheard and unappreciated. Whether it’s before bed, during meals, or in any other situation, put your phone down and engage with your husband. Scrolling through social media might feel like a reflex at this point, but Instagram can wait. The most important person is right in front of you, not on your screen.
Express Your Gratitude
Men like to feel needed, and showing your appreciation lets them know that even if you could change a tire or a lightbulb by yourself, you both need and want them to help you. Even if you’re the main caregiver to your children or you cook and clean your home the majority of the time, there are probably things your husband does that you don’t want to do, like mowing the lawn, paying the bills, taking out trash, etc.
Send him a text or leave a handwritten note in his work bag to let him know how much you appreciate him. Again, love is a choice, not a feeling, and in the roommate stage, that choice can feel harder and harder to make.
Additionally, marriage is not both of you giving 50% at all times. Some days, he’s giving 90% and you’re giving 10%, or vice versa. This effort is what powers a long-term relationship, and as divorce attorney James Sexton advises, once both parties stop putting in effort (even if you’re giving more than he is for the time being), divorce looks like a more viable option. Even in the middle of the roommate stage, of course you still love your husband – but how are you showing it?
Nothing cements the roommate stage more than a lack of sex and intimacy in your relationship. This is where the roommate stage might become truly dangerous in your marriage. As sex declines, you might start to feel a little too comfortable with not having it. You don’t have to respond to your husband’s advances or initiate sex yourself, and you’re free to not put in any effort and wear sweatpants and ratty t-shirts every day for the foreseeable future.
No matter what you’re wearing though, your husband would likely reciprocate sex if you chose to initiate it, and physical intimacy where there’s a lack of connection could be the key to getting you both out of this rut. Not only is it enjoyable, but it serves as a valuable reminder for the two of you. You’re not just co-parents, or pals, co-workers, or friends. You’re husband and wife, and both of you need sex for your relationship to be genuinely fulfilling.
Good marriages are made through hard work; they aren’t created out of thin air. Hard work is often the missing component in making a good marriage, but it’s important for wives to realize that even if you want your husband to lead, you can’t always wait for him to make the first move. Do both of yourselves a favor, recognize where you are in your marriage, and tackle it as soon as possible.
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