Stories of Seclusion: A Couple is Married But Live Apart

A composite story of a couple that grew to prefer much solitude

Posted Jun 13, 2015

Susan Panzarella, CC 2.0
Source: Susan Panzarella, CC 2.0

Today's installment in this series on people who spend a lot of time alone profiles Frank and Laura.

Their marriage started traditionally: They lived together. But after three years, Laura got a great job offer requiring an hour-long commute. As an occupational therapist, good jobs are hard to find, so she took it.

Over the next few years, the commute grew even longer as the population grew but no new freeway lanes were built, so Laura decided to rent an apartment near her work to live in on weekdays.

To Laura's and Frank's surprise, they both soon preferred spending five nights a week apart. The moderately introverted Laura discovered that, after a day of having to be bubbly around her stroke and accident patients, instead of having to try to be chipper with Frank, she could unwind and recharge.

Too, they both appreciated the advantages of sleeping alone: Laura could read in bed as late as she wanted and didn't have to listen to Frank's snoring. Each could keep their bedroom at their preferred temperature. Frank could watch sports games and work in his workshop as much as he wanted without feeling guilty or getting heat from Laura to come out of his man cave.

It wasn't perfect: Frank did miss the comfort of coming home to someone. Laura missed spooning and never felt as safe in her apartment by herself. But in balance, they decided to keep the routine of five days apart, two days together.

But as time went on, the number of hours they spent together shrunk. Ever more often on a Friday night, there was some reason one of them couldn't come home. They even decided to sometimes travel separately---She loved beach vacations; he hated them. He loved adventure trips, not she.

After 11 years of marriage, Frank remains content with their increasingly separate lives but Laura has started to feel that their marriage had so eroded that she is wondering about an affair or even divorce.

The 2nd edition of The Best of Marty Nemko is available. You can reach career and personal coach Marty Nemko at mnemko@comcast.net