Becoming Dreaded Roommates

Becoming Dreaded Roommates.  Emotionally committed relationships bring excitement and passion to our lives, especially when they are new.  When we first enter into a committed relationship, we may think that we have found the answer to life’s problems, that we have a partner to share in the daily turmoil, that we will never be alone again, and that it will be smooth sailing from here on out.  If we base relationships on these assumptions, however, we may be sorely disappointed when our partners fail to live up to these expectations.

Becoming Dreaded Roommates

In couples counseling, I often hear this phrase,

“I feel like we’re just roommates, and bad roommates at that.”  Over time, it is natural to confront some roadblocks, rooted in our own personal issues, that may distance us from our partners.

There is a strong probability that if we depend on another person to completely fulfill us, we will soon be disappointed, and start seeing that person as the cause of our disappointment. This pattern of behavior is responsible for a great deal of discord in committed relationships.  Couples who come to see me for Marriage Counseling actually hope that the therapy will change their partner because they are convinced their partner is the source of the problem.  Continued arguments with poor conflict resolution skills and inappropriate, acting out behavior make for poor prognosis for a happy future.

Over time many relationships enter a stage where the partners feel distant from each other. The initial passion, sexual freedom, intimacy, and feelings of connectedness fade. They still love their partner, but, they are no longer “in love.”  At the same time, both partners may feel they have lost their “sense of self” in the relationship. They have given so much to the relationship in terms of time, energy, and emotion that they have lost sight of themselves and the things that made them feel unique and happy as individuals. They have abandoned old friendships, hobbies, and activities that brought interest and excitement to their lives in order to devote time and energy to the relationship. When this emotional distance begins to define the relationship, resentment between partners may emerge. How does a once-promising relationship arrive at a place where the those involved feel miles apart and begin to question whether or not they even like each other (even though they still feel love for each other)?
Becoming Dreaded Roommates

The answer lies in what I explain during couples counseling as a differentiation between partners.  One or both Individuals have become too differentiated from each other for a significant period of time, changing their couple dynamic from a “We” to becoming a “Me.” Sacrificing the We to concentrating on Oneself for a significant period of time, while healthy when not extreme, can result in a conscious or unconscious disconnect from the relationship.  Developing a Greater Sense of Self to the exclusion of We can turn “in love” feelings into platonic feelings of fondness and care that are devoid of intimacy.  This emotional disconnect can sometimes occur when one person in the relationship wants to make the effort to rediscover that lost intimacy, and the other does not.
As a Marriage Counselor, I help couples redevelop the intimacy that once flourished. I explain that two people who come together in an emotional commitment carry with them the legacy of their own fears, anxieties, and unresolved issues. It can be very uncomfortable for us to come to terms with our own baggage; so troublesome, in fact, that few of us are ever able to look at ourselves with full objectivity.  Instead of looking within, we attribute our problems to our partners, a process called “projection.” Rather than seeing and accepting our partners for who they are and assuming they have the best intentions, we see them as the reason behind our own anxiety.  When we feel uncomfortable about something our partners say or do, our discomfort may actually come from a source within us that we have not yet fully examined, such as control issues, jealousy, insecurity, fear, or dependence. Our partners trigger these unresolved difficulties within us; they don’t cause them.  The key is to search within our own lives to see why we struggle with these emotions, which is no small task. To become truly acquainted with oneself can sometimes be a terrible shock.

In Marriage Counseling I teach each partner to concentrate on themselves without alienating each other.  This helps them get in touch with their own feelings without telling each other how to think and feel.  Allowing autonomy to flourish within the We produces partners with a healthy dose of differentiation while still remaining deeply – and intimately – committed to each other.

My first marriage was the inspiration for this article. Our 16 years of We devolved into two completed differentiated individuals wanting different things.  While he and I are still friends our paths have long since diverged.  It happens.

Can you relate to this article?  Are you currently involved in a dreaded roommate relationship?

For more information on keeping intimacy and romance alive call me at (858) 735-1139.




When You’ve Lost Your Desire For Sex

When You’ve Lost Your Desire For Sex.  A blog was written by Wendy Strgar entitled, ‘Turning Around The Sexless Life’ shares information that I consistently work with as a Marriage Counselor.  It’s no doubt that after years of being together couples lose their erotic connection and experience what some sex therapists refer to as a death of desire.  What used to be passionate and regular is now mundane and even avoided.  Some couples treat this Dance of Avoidance as an elephant in the room knowing an obvious problem exists, but for whatever reason don’t talk about it.  Most people don’t understand that it’s not the lack of sex that’s the problem as it is the lack of desire.  Most of us can have sex as it is a physicality, but what most couples want is a desire so sex can be good/great.
Courtesy of and Danilo Rizzuti

Working as a Couples Counselor for the past 21 years I help these couples start the process in bringing back their emotional and sexual connection with three initial steps:

  1. Learn to be comfortable talking about sex.
  2. Introduce a language to talk about wants, frustrations, longing, challenges, wounds, etc.
  3. Develop conversation with questions to create desire and generate an erotic background to become playful again.

In Marriage Counseling I help develop a greater level of desire by thinking about sex in a broader framework.  We not only talk about what the couple needs and wants but what the individual wants to enhance their Erotic Self.  We learn to have conversations that inspire hope and acquire the tools to become comfortable talking about what turns the couple “on” sexually.  Learning to talk about what you like and don’t like about sex, being curious and open to the experience of the unknown when talking about fantasies (whether played out or not), brings about that desire that is wanted in a loving relationship.

For more information bringing back the desire in your sex life please contact me at (858) 735-1139

See if you can relate to this article:
Here is the sad truth about sex in many long-term partnerships; it is either the glue that keeps the relationship strong or the thorn in our side, a source of persistent pain and discord. Endless books and articles substantiate both the frequency and damage of the sexless marriage. Of all the conflicts that come between couples, there is not a more painful or destructive argument than the sexual one; whether stuck in the frustration of who comes first or not at all, on the score keeping of who initiates and who rejects more, or lost in the persistent silent erosion of who is or isn’t in the mood. Our sexual arguments not only carry multiple layers of unsaid meaning, but the myriad bad feelings they generate linger long after the yelling is over. This is why sexual incompatibility is often cited as the number one reason people leave their relationships. By taking a closer look at how sexual issues emerge and persist in the life cycle of relationships, we can learn to locate the emergency exit and begin to heal this most essential element of intimate connection. Having been married and having sex with the same man for over thirty years has given me multiple opportunities to see these breaks from all sides… and yet, here I stand as evidence that sexual breaks can be overcome.
  1. Sexual Skill Deficit
Initially, sex falls apart innocently. Because many of us have both limited sexual education and language when we launch into our relationships our deficit of sexual know-how easily degenerates into poor sexual self-regard and a battleground of hurt feelings. I remember early in my marriage, how little I understood about my own arousal mechanism and how uncomfortable we both were when it came to using words to describe our sexual preferences. Erroneously, I believed that my partner should just know what kinds of touch felt best or which positions worked for me, when clearly I didn’t know myself. To a certain extent, what we have no language for is not available to us, and so it is not surprising that so many relationships suffer with issues like premature ejaculation and the inability to orgasm. We struggled with this combination of sexual inexperience for more years than I would like to admit, which often created more frustration than our fledgling relationship could hold. It often turned into sexual blaming that made both of us feel impotent and afraid to engage. Living with persistent sexual frustration often evolves into an approach-avoidance game where everyone loses and one or both partners start putting one foot out the door.
  1. Differing Desire
As time passes and sexual frustration becomes normative and not discussed, our initial sexual skill deficit often becomes complicated by the distractions and joy of building a family and increasingly adult responsibilities. Sexual initiation issues stemming from increasingly different degrees of sexual desire are spurred by lack of sleep, lack of privacy, lack of hormones, lack of babysitters, over stress and more. Typically, the story goes that the male partner is the one who wants sex more and is more frequently rejected, while it is the woman saying no that is controlling the marriage. Having spent too much time on both sides of this fence, mostly what I remember is how remarkably similar the experience of shame, isolation and self-doubt were on both sides. Our sexual arguments often turned mean as our early sexual insecurity is amplified with every sexual rejection. Being consistently turned away sexually and turning your back on your intimate commitments amplifies rejection into every aspect of the relationship. Sexual breakdown at this stage provokes seeking sexual satisfaction elsewhere, whether in the virtual world, in clandestine affairs or with paid sex partners.
  1. Not in the Mood
Arriving at the moment when the sexual arguments stop entirely and are replaced by a total and persistent lack of interest in sexual intimacy is the beginning of the end. The human sex drive is not built with a hibernation gear and the less touch that is exchanged, the further away we drift. When we give up the will to fight for our sexual lives with our partner, and join the ranks of the sexless, we are releasing our connection to our partner in ways that are often not understood.
Finding your way out of this downward sexual spiral is doable no matter what stage of sexual conflict you find yourself. What helped for us first was both the willingness and dedication to learn more about our own sexual responses. The more confident I became in my own ability to respond sexually, the more I could bring to our intimacy and stop blaming him when it didn’t work. When he wasn’t worried about my wrath, he had time to figure out what helped for him to last longer. During the baby years I usually had to think my way into desire. Rarely did arousal  just come to me, but the more I was willing to commit myself to seeking it, the softer life became for both of us when we consistently prioritized took our sexual needs.  As I became proficient at finding ways to develop my arousal I was able to throw out the entire idea of being in or waiting for a mood. The more I trusted my capacity to generate a sexual mood, the more that we were able to sync up our sexual desire. Fixing a broken sex life is an interior job first and foremost- no one else can make you want to feel sexy or want to know yourself as a sexual person.