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“Married But Living Apart” is Making Us Stronger

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While talking to my husband last night, the conversation went a little sideways. It happens. Married couples disagree. Totally normal.

Part of the problem, in this situation, was that we were on the phone. Which in my mind, makes conflict resolution a bit harder, because we’re both interrupters.

And if I’m honest, for a hot second, a part of me wanted to throw my phone across the room.

Also totally normal? Maybe?

Anyway. Point is, we were on the phone and even though I was highly frustrated, I offered a suggestion:

“Let me get off the phone, go wash my face, drink some water, and I’ll call you back when I feel better.”

That was “healthier relationship” me. The old me, “unhealthy relationship” me, would have hung up in a huff.

But you see, we’re temporarily living apart. And when you’re married and living apart, working through conflict is a whole new ballgame. We’ve had to work. Hard.

And while certainly, there are disadvantages of “living apart but together,” we feel that it’s actually made us stronger.

Apparently, this “married but living apart” thing is becoming a trend for older couples, according to

That’s right, it’s called Living Apart Together (LAT):  when married couples live apart.

We aren’t really part of this trend, because it’s not a lifestyle we want to be living. And we’re not separated. We’re doing this because we decided to live apart temporarily for my husband’s job.

It’s been trying. And we’ve learned a lot. When you’re married but living apart, handling marital conflict is trickier. You can’t just take a minute and go into another room. It’s harder to sort things out. You can’t see the other’s expression. You can’t hug when the conflict is over.

Can You Be Married and Live Apart Successfully? 

People seemed surprised when we told them of our plans. I think a lot of people questioned why we would choose to live apart – even temporarily.

For us, it made sense financially. And emotionally.

Having lived in our current house for less than two years, the numbers didn’t look good. We didn’t love the idea of shelling out thousands in real estate fees when he didn’t have a lot of equity.

I also didn’t think my mental state would fare well, moving twice in two years.

When we first came up with the idea of living apart during the workweek, I remember my mom was concerned. “But you don’t like being alone,” she said.

When I relayed this to my sister, we laughed. Because the thing is, I love being alone. I cherish my space. And besides, I’m not alone. I’m here with my daughter, a protective watchdog, and a lap cat.

But I did understand what my mom meant by her comment. My husband really is my best friend. We spend most of our free time together. We are always checking in with each other. Not because we feel we have to. But because we want to.

So it’s hard. Really hard, sometimes. 

But like I said. We’ve learned to navigate living apart while married. I get asked a lot by friends how we manage it. Here are some tips that we’ve found to be helpful.

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Some Quick Tips on Being Married But Living Apart

Communicate Consistently

It sounds obvious, but it really does take effort.

We talk a lot. Usually several times throughout the day.

We’ve always been like that, though. So that’s never been a problem for us.

Maybe that’s way too much for you. Set up a consistent plan to stay in touch that works for your needs.

Improve Your Listening Skills

When my daughter was in Pre-K, one of her nightly prayers was to do a better job of using her “listening ears.”

I found that to be hilarious. But it has always stuck with me. Because we all need to use our “listening ears” more.

Learn to listen better. Here’s where we had to dig deep: We tend to fall short when it comes to listening. And not getting quick to anger.

We’re both impatient and feel like we’re super smart with lots of ideas. So listening and being open have been our challenges.

Be Respectful

Speak your feelings with respect. Don’t play little games and clam up. Don’t be sarcastic. Don’t call names. Don’t talk down to each other.

Sounds obvious. But sometimes I surprise myself with what comes out of my mouth, even though I’m working on self-awareness.

When you aren’t face-to-face, it’s more important than ever to communicate openly, honestly and clearly.

Please note: This does not come easy for either of us. It’s taken years to get better. The aspect of living apart made us have to work harder and it. And we still fall short sometimes.

Let the Little Things Go

When your time together is limited, you really need to make sure you’re making the most of it. So it’s not worth bickering over the little things that don’t really matter.

Since we’ve been living apart, I don’t really care how we spend our time together when he’s home, as in what activity we are doing.

I just care that we are spending time together and we are all in harmony.

That said, it definitely took some adjusting initially when he would come home on the weekends and I was used to having my space and my schedule. (I like to be the Queen of my castle.)

Try not to control how your time is spent. Be flexible. Relax. Overall, just try not to sweat the small stuff.

Learn to Be More Intentional

For the most part, we live apart during the week but are together on the weekends.

We appreciate our time together and as a family even more now that we see each other less. By that I mean we try to be intentional about how we spend our time.

For us, that often means more time at home at a slower pace, rather than trying to cram a lot of going and doing into just a few short days.

Married But Living Apart – Final Thoughts

Is it for everyone? Probably not. It’s not ideal for us permanently, or even long term.

But it’s ideal now. It’s the solution that made the most sense. And that’s how we’re rolling with it.

It’s working for us at the moment. You definitely have to be committed, communicate often and be willing to work on yourself and your relationship.

But really, shouldn’t that be the case for any relationship, whether you’re living apart or together?

Related: Setting Goals as a Couple

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