Monday, August 23, 2010


“So it looks like we’ll more or less live separately but continue to see each other”, I tell her, “I’m fine with that, in fact, it’s always been my fantasy although I’ve said it to any partner, and now it just looks like it’s going to happen without fuss”.
We’ve just rented a flat in the city 30 mins  drive from my home in a village, ostensibly for nights out and a place to stay for my partner after a particularly exhausting shift in A&E, but it’s real purpose is quickly becoming apparent.
“Funny how that’s a fantasy for so many women”, she replies.
Is it?  I’ve known quite a few women who nodded in absolute agreement whenever I’ve mentioned it, even a few women who managed to achieve it.  Is it a woman’s fantasy?  Actually, I have tentatively suggested this possibility to previous partners. They always took it badly, as rejection.  It doesn’t seem to be a fantasy among the men I’ve lived with up till now.
I love my partner, but living with him kills it stone dead.   There’s endless resentment about who does what in terms of chores.  Conflicts about how to organise the house.   Sleeping and energy level incompatibilities between one who works shifts and another who has no imposed timetables.  Endless directions on how to do things I’ve been doing fine for years without his help. 
“He told me how to cut sellotape yesterday, and I just snapped”,  I told another friend.   “Do you think it’s a particularly Spanish trait?” she asks me, as her Spanish partner tells her unnecessarily how to drive to a particular street in a city she has lived in for 20 years.
I feel suffocated.  I can’t even wash salad without unsolicited advice.  For someone whose husband has been unfaithful, this probably sounds like small fry.  In my case, my previous partner was violent, but even so I am in no way thanking my lucky stars right now to have found someone who limits himself to advising me on how to cut sticky tape.
Jen’s post about losing fear of separation hit home.  Separation becomes just another chore.  But there’s also the loss of flexibility, in my case, at least.  Been there, done that, ain’t ever going to do it again for anyone.  But unfortunately, that anyone isn’t part of the process, the process predated them.  So they just meet a wall rather than the pair of us slowly working out a compromise.
I have no idea how this is going to work out.  I feel guilty because this is not “for better or worse”, it’s trying to take the good side only.  And it’s very much pandering to individualism rather than trying to find common ground.  And it’s a solution that depends on income*.  But for now, I’m just grateful for a little space.  And I’m sick my resentful thoughts about the day’s conflicts smothering my sexuality.  This is new.  I have hope.  On the other hand, hope has always been my worst enemy in the past.

* The flat is very cheap because it was filthy and abandoned beyond belief, and that’s where the last three weeks of my life have gone.


  1. That is, NEVER said it to any partner. Sorry. First line is a great place to have a major typo.

  2. You know, I secretly look forward to the times my husband is away on business. Sometimes it's just a night, others it's 2 or 3 weeks. I think you're doing what you can to preserve the relationship. If living apart keeps you together, go for it. Snoring means we sleep in different bedrooms--so what. We have a perfectly healthy sex life AND we both get a good night's sleep. Do what's right for YOU, not society.

  3. Exactly what The Elder said. Exactly

  4. why do we always insist that people's relationships (which are about as unique as you can get) must be squashed into a pre-defined mould?

    a compromise of living without compromises: i like it.

  5. I agree with Jen. It all goes back to assuming shit, man. You're afraid people will assume your relationship is unhealthy, and people probably will, let's face it. They're asses.

    That's the worst feeling in the world: knowing something is functional and right, and fearing that no one will see it that way. Because that means that you care too much about what other people think, and it's something you never realized about yourself before. I loathe dawning realizations.

    I guess this was more about me than you.

    You take your separate spaces and you enjoy the fuck out of them.

  6. I wish my husband and I could be next door neighbors. We would watch movies together every night and he would use the guest toilet that only has a hand towel hanging on the rack and a bar of soap - not much you can mess up there. One night I would have him over for dinner and the next night he would have me over and if his house got too messy I could just tell him I had other plans. Or maybe I could sit amongst the filth knowing that I could go home to my clean house. Oh god, if someday I win the lottery, I'm buying two houses right next door to each other.

  7. I would try anything to make it work when it comes to my marriage, even separate living. I definitely fantasize about space. For me it's because I live with four other humans and three animals. There are times when I feel like I am literally suffocating. I'm also an extroverted introvert. I have an outgoing personality but I recharge by being alone. With kids and a husband who would sew himself to me if he could, I am almost never alone. I fight tooth and nail to get the small amounts of time I do now. My biggest challenge as a parent and a partner is dealing with the resentment that I am always being asked to attend to others, usually on their timetable. I was an only child and lived alone for over ten years, this is hard for me.

    I love Blues idea about the houses next door to one another, separate but together. I think sometimes just separate bathrooms can help.

  8. My primary job as a wife is to make sure this marriage works for me.
    Before I understood that I kept ending up divorced.

  9. @ Elder: Oh, I'm going for it all right - it's what I've always wanted. What people think doesn't bother me too much - here in my very traditional village I've discovered that as long as I'm not obviously secretive (which is very different to spilling my guts), people are generally very accepting, to my face. I guess I'm more uneasy in general terms about the realisation that I've become more cranky and inflexible as I've got older. Or less willing to compromise, to couch it in slightly more positive terms. 15 years ago, in a different relationship, a room of my own was enough. Now it seems like I need a house of my own...

    @ Flutter: Thanks.

    @ jen: Thanks for giving me a positive light in which to see my crankiness!

    @ Rassles: Like I said to Elder, it's not so much what other people will think, as what it makes me think about myself (turning into a fussy old woman). On the other hand, I've always suspected that relationships could be a lot more enjoyable without trivial conflicts about who cleans the toilet interfering. Now I get a chance to test my theory. And I shall take your advice and enjoy the fuck out of my space.

    @ Blues: You too, huh? Adjoining houses was always exactly my fantasy, too. Now I think that maybe next door would be too close - too many opportunities to come and mess up your clean house when his own has gone beyond chaos.

    @ Ruby: So many things I relate to there. I need space to be sociable too. It's probably no coincidence that I've hardly seen any friends since we've been living in my village (10 months), because my partner would also superglue himself to me if he could and my sociable batteries have steadily run down. I've seen more people in the past 3 weeks than in the past 10 months. I think that separate anything helps, though in my case it's clearly escalated.

    @ Mongolian Girl: Wise words, and you know, they make me realise that I'm still uncomfortable with giving equal importance to my needs.