Family life

Are you lovers or roommates?

Has your partner become more like a roommate than a lover? Here's how to regain the closeness you once had.

SocratesRelationship-iStock Photo: iStockphoto

Over the course of a relationship, it's not uncommon for couples to become more cohabitants than covivants, more bunkies than beaus. I call this the "roommate phenomenon." You know how that looks — you share a bed, and a couple of kids, but not much else.

That drift — the insipid distance that develops between even the solidest of couples — boils down, in large part, to communication (or, more precisely, the lack thereof).  Oh, don't get me wrong, you and your partner talk; but, you just don't say anything, or at least anything meaningful.

Don't believe me? Test yourself with this handy quiz:

— Where does he eat lunch every day?

— What does he have for lunch?


— What is her dream summer vacation?

— What is his biggest stress right now?

— Who is her biggest threat at work?

— When was his last doctor's appointment (and what was his blood pressure)?

How did you do? If you didn't answer each of those questions correctly (or close to it), you're in danger of the dreaded drift — the dreaded roommate phenomenon. But here's the good news: Regaining closeness isn't tough. It's all about asking the right questions, and then being quiet and really listening to the answers.


As the ancient philosopher Socraties once said, I know that I know nothing. Most of us wrongly assume that we know everything there is to know about our partners. We don't. At least we don't anymore. Life with kids is busy, and it gets in the way of real revelation and reflection. So carve out some time, cultivate some true curiosity, and get to know your spouse (again). Pack these questions along on your next date night — of course, you don't have to be limited to these, but hopefully they'll start some deeper dialogue:

These days, the best part of being you is__________?

These days, the toughest part of being you is__________?

The one thing you wish you could change about your life is____________?


You have no regrets in life except for____________?

The thing you are most proud of lately is____________?

If you had an extra $20,000, you would____________?

You can also encourage intimacy with “I” messages-statements that aim at revealing your own deepest, darkest feelings. For example:


I've been thinking a lot about__________.

I've been feeling really good about_________.

I've been feeling really lonely/sad when__________.

Or, how about this one:

I've been thinking that the one thing I'd really like to try in bed is________?


Indeed, who knew Socrates could be so, um, stimulating?

This article was originally published on Nov 25, 2013

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