Love At A Distance, Ctd

by Chris Bodenner

The popular thread continues:

I call bullshit on the long-distance, living-apart marriage. My husband and I were in a long-distance relationship before we were married. During that time, things were always fabulous. But that is because I got to experience only a fraction of my spouse – the part that shows off well in short increments. Marriage is intimacy – the hardest form (at least it’s supposed to be, but in the age of “me, me, me” it’s hard to sustain that concept). Marriage is being completely emotionally available to another person. It’s allowing another soul to see yours, including the beauty and the undeniable “you make we want to strangle you sometimes” warts. Had I never lived with my spouse, I never would have experienced the true closeness that has come from driving each other batty, but eventually learning to accept each other as we are (and not the versions of ourselves that manage to present well in 3-4 day periods). I don’t see how you can ever accomplish this if at the end of the day you can simply turn to your partner and say “go home until we get along again.”

Another is miffed by such criticism:

I don’t understand why people feel the need to be so judgmental of other peoples’ living arrangements. My partner and I have been together about 13 years. We bought a duplex together 11 years ago … he lives on one side, I live on the other.

The reasons we chose to go this route in the beginning, vs. purchasing a house, aren’t relevant here … but I have to say that the arrangement has worked out a lot better than I think a house would have. We have different approaches to all kinds of things (orderliness, pack-ratting, daily routines, what kind of food is ok to keep around, etc.) that would cause tremendous conflict if we didn’t have our own space and a certain level of autonomy.

Seven years ago, we brought a child into the world. He “lives” with me (his room and toys are on my side), but he happily bounces back and forth between the units as needed. We function just like any other family – we cook and eat together, watch TV together, play and work around the house together … but Dad typically sleeps next door, with his stuff and his cats. Big deal.

Want to sleep under the same roof? Fine, do it. Don’t want to? Then don’t. Want to sleep under the same roof, but with a big dividing wall down the middle? Buy a duplex. But PLEASE stop judging people – or their commitment level to their partner – when they make different decisions than you would.

Another reader:

I am finding this LAT discussion so timely that I wanted to chime in. The SO [significant other] and I just celebrated our seventh anniversary. We have never lived together. He has a condo that is too small for me. I have a tiny overpriced apartment 30 minutes away I’m not attached to, but my commute to work is two minutes. To move in together we would have to buy a place to have the comfort and space we have now.

We spend every weekend together and a nights a week when we can. We talk on the phone most nights. We work in similar industries so we also collaborate on projects. There is no question we are head-over-heels in love, monogamous and enjoy every second of our time spent together (even when we’re being homebodies).

In seven years we have rarely fought. We run errands for each other. We help and support each other. I’d also add the pressure of having regular sex when you live with someone (at least in my past hetero experience) can turn into conflict. With the SO, sex is a great motivation for a 30-minute drive on a work night and mostly guaranteed when we’re together. The fact that we both look forward to sex and really enjoy it allows for a great deal of intimacy, without any pressure about one partner feeling the relationship is lacking in that regard.

We have conversations about how it would be nice to live together, but neither one of us feels that if it doesn’t happen we’re walking away. Sure, we would save money on mortgage/rent, but that’s not a real reason to do it. The friends and family who ask about our living situation have goals to get married and have kids (or have already done so), but the SO and I do not.

LAT is wonderful for me because neither of us even have the option of taking each other for granted or falling into co-dependency if we want to keep this relationship going another seven years and beyond (and we do!). I think we could live together and be perfectly happy. Still, our current living situation dictates we must respect each other as independent individuals and I find that very rewarding too. Some of the friends and family seem flabbergasted that the LAT situation works at all, but it does. It is the most loving, fulfilling and easiest relationship I have ever been in.