Why Do I Feel Like a Roommate in My Marriage?

Are you feeling like a roommate rather than a spouse?

You are not alone if you feel more like a roommate in your marriage than an intimate partner. You and your spouse are busy! (And so are your kids, pets, friends, and extended family. ) Many important people in your life are worthy of your time and energy, not to mention all the people asking for your attention who are not worthy (think telemarketing calls you pick up because you think it might be a work call).

Why Do I Feel Like a Roommate in My Marriage?

Relationships usually move to the back burner because other commitments seem more timely or urgent, and we have a comforting sense of security that our spouse will always be there for us. One of the best benefits of a life-long partnership is precisely that. However, we can forget to nurture a marriage or long-term relationship because it might seem so solid that it doesn’t need attention as much as other areas of our lives.

This reminds me of a plant I have in my office. It’s a very special plant to me because a dear friend sent it to me when my Dad died. I love this philodendron very very much. Many people don’t have the extraordinary privilege of having a wonderful father, but I did, and I do. My relationship with him keeps growing even after he’s passed when I hear his voice reminding me what’s important and what my purpose is in this short time I have on earth to make a difference. That’s why I keep it in my office, the place where I do my best to try to build more love in the world.

Yesterday I looked up and saw all the leaves were curved and droopy. I watered it right away, and thirty minutes later, I checked back in on it, and it looked exactly the same (can you tell I like instant gratification?). Today it’s still quite sad πŸ™ I know I have to figure out what it needs. I’ll ask a colleague … maybe more soil or fertilizer or heck, I’ll even sing to it if I think it will help.

My point is that I didn’t neglect this plant because it stopped being important or valuable. I forgot to water it because I was distracted by other things. Couples often feel their partner no longer sees them as a priority, but often times that it’s not that at all. The priority is high, the love is strong, and the intention is there. But taking action is vital when you see evidence that something valuable to you is suffering.

7 Signs You’re More Like Roommates than Spouses

  1. You tend to divide and conquer household responsibilities (instead of doing them together)
  2. Physical intimacy has significantly decreased
  3. Passion and romance have significantly decreased
  4. The word “friend” resonates more than the word “lover” when you think of your spouse
  5. Conversations tend to be light logistical and solution-focused
  6. You value and respect each other but lack a feeling of deep connection and intimacy

Take a Quick Quiz to Assess Your Risk for Roommate Syndrome

What Is the Roommate Stage in Marriage?

I frequently get asked questions about the “roommate stage in marriage.” This concerns me a bit, because roommate syndrome is a symptom that your relationship needs a little TLC, it’s not a normal stage that all relationships experience.

The term “roommate stage” implies that it is a temporary and predictable portion of your relationship that will naturally progress to a different stage, similar to the better understood and researched “honeymoon phase,” which is predictable and temporary.

The challenge here is to neither over-react nor under-react to the symptoms outlined below. If you think it’s a normal phase of all relationships, you might not make the small changes that will bring you closer, and if you are afraid that it is catastrophic, you might leave an otherwise healthy relationship.

No one wants to feel like a roommate in their marriage, so there is no benefit in arguing about HOW this happened, but rather how to TURN THE SHIP AROUND. It is possible to get out of the roommate phase in marriage.

How to Get out of the Roommate Phase in Marriage

Avoiding roommate syndrome is the key to a healthy, long-lasting relationship, and it’s attainable only when you and your partner deliberately carve out time to prioritize each other by choosing and following a reputable program.

There is no other way.

Life is busy and there are multiple demands for your time. So the crucial first step to getting out of the roommate phase is to choose a program and put it on your calendar.

You might feel like now is not the right time, or you don’t want to invest real money since you can do it on your own.

It’s very true that there is plenty of free valuable information on the internet, but I’ll say it again: ]

The only way to escape or avoid Roommate Syndrome is to deliberately carve out time to prioritize each other by choosing a reputable program and following it.

When you think about a relationship wellness program, you may picture painful conversations or sitting through a laundry list of your partner’s complaints. The truth is, when you act fast, and don’t wait until you are in a relational crisis, marriage retreats and couples workshops are fun and easy.

You will benefit from being honest and vulnerable, but any good program will focus more on positivity than negativity, and more on strengths than problems.

It’s Not Too Late to Move From Feeling Like Roommates in Your Marriage to Feeling Like Romantic Partners Again

You are halfway to your journey on getting out of the roommate phase of marriage once you decide to carve out time on your calendars and choose your program.

We tend to think about the past and why we didn’t do something earlier, but we forget to think about the future, and why now is a good time to take action. If your spouse feels like a roommate right now, it’s time to try something new starting today.

Your results will likely be both short-term and long-term.

After a relaxing three-day weekend getaway, you and your partner will probably feel lighter and more connected. And if you do the recommended homework once a week for two years, imagine where you’ll be then. You’ll have new regular positive habits. Now fast forward twenty years. If you take just one piece of helpful advice from a workshop you attend next week and apply it every week for 1, 040 weeks, that is some serious compounding interest in your emotional bank account. You might still be flirting in your assisted living facility around others who are alone and sad.

How I Can Help You Combat Roommate Syndrome (Another Quiz)

As I said earlier, you can’t go wrong with any program as long as it’s evidence-based and created by a licensed relationship specialist.

There are many different ways to improve your marriage and combat Roommate Syndrome, ranging from free courses to private intensive couples therapy with a relationship expert. I have created a quiz so you can answer 10 quick questions to help you decide whether you need couples therapy, a weekend getaway retreat, or free online resources.

I am a certified Gottman couples therapist who has been helping people save their marriages for over thirty years. I use the Gottman Method as my foundation and then integrate other modalities (such as mindfulness, the attachment work of Sue Johnson, and my own nerdy sense of humor).

As I’m sure you can imagine, it’s not easy to get an appointment with me, or someone like me, because private couples therapy is not inexpensive, and most of us are full.

That’s why I’ve created a low-cost alternative for couples who want to get out of the roommate phase of their marriage or relationship.

It is a DIY virtual couples retreat based on my book and workbook, Love Is an Action Verb.

Here are some answers to your questions about this self-paced video series:

Who is this for?

This DIY online weekend workshop is ideal for couples who feel like they are roommates running a household together instead of romantic partners.

How much does it cost?


What does the retreat include?

Six sessions:
Friday Night: Finding Happiness
Saturday Morning: Avoiding a Fight
Saturday Afternoon: Decreasing Stress and Increasing Understanding
Saturday Night: Date Night
Sunday Morning: Building Healthy Habits
Sunday Afternoon: Maintaining Longlasting Love

Each session includes:
Self-paced video lectures by Laura Silverstein, LCSW, Certified Gottman Couples Therapist
Self-reflection homework exercises
Joint homework exercises and conversation prompts

Bonus Add-Ons
7-Minute Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Workbook Manual PDF and printable Homework Packet
Interactive Q&A sections to get real feedback from the instructor

Do we have to do it on a weekend?

You can complete the program at any time and in any way that you choose. Best success comes when you schedule the sessions in advance to increase follow-through.

What is the refund policy?

100% money back no questions asked within 30 days of purchase

This looks great by my partner doesn’t want to do it with me. Can I do it alone?

Of course you can watch the videos on your own and benefit from the self-reflection homework exercises, but you might feel frustrated and disconnected. Instead you might consider taking a look at my book to focus on

We’re Ready to Sign Up!

Remember if you want to stop feeling like roommates with your spouse or partner, the solution is simple but not easy. Roommate Syndrome is not a deadly disease.

Obviously, you don’t have to sign up for my online retreat to feel happier and more connected in your relationship or marriage. But if you want change, you’ll need to make some changes. Your next step is to decide which changes feel right for your specific situation.

But Whatever You Decide to Do, Remember to Keep Having Fun πŸ™‚

Tags: How to stop feeling like roommates with your spouse. My wife feels like a roommate. How to be happy in a roommate marriage. How to get out of the roommate phase. What is a roommate marriage?


Laura Silverstein, LCSW

Laura Silverstein is a Certified Gottman Couples Therapist, and author of Love Is An Action Verb.  She has thirty years of clinical experience and is the founder and co-owner of Main Line Counseling Partners, based in Bryn Mawr, PA. Laura is a frequent contributor to The Gottman Relationship Blog and has appeared as a relationship expert in media outlets such as the New York Times, ABC, and Today. She helps couples find more happiness as a research clinician, speaker, trainer, and writer with a positive, action-oriented style.

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