Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Pleasures and Perils of a Dual-Domicile Marriage

Age 49: Day 4

Maybe it's because I waited until age 48 to marry, but I never considered moving in with my husband. We have an increasingly common arrangement among couples: We live apart, or, as my husband calls it, we have  "dual domiciles." I mostly live in my New York City apartment. He mostly lives in his house in rural CT. We come together at least 3 nights a week, which means we spend weekends together with long commutes for one or the other of us on either end. It seemed the obvious thing to do, since I wasn't planning on giving up my job at SELF or my life and friendships in the city (I tried moving to the 'burbs once, long ago, and I fail to thrive when I'm away from urban grit for too long). My husband, for his part, wasn't planning on giving up his business.

Our system works surprisingly well. For one thing, each of us feels as if we've hit the jackpot: he suddenly has a pad in Manhattan; I suddenly have a country house. When we tell people about the way we're doing things, I've noticed that at first they look a bit perplexed, then envious. "That sounds about perfect," most end up saying, and often, it is: Solo weeknights are for dinners out with my women friends, late sessions at the office and doing all those things you might feel guilty about doing when a husband is around (aka, talking on the phone with friends/wasting time on FB/lounging on the couch with Us weekly). Weekends are for husband-and-wife reconnecting, and there's always that little frisson when I first see my honey at the train on Friday nights. I firmly believe that since we don't see each other every night, we tend to pay more attention to each other and enjoy each other more when we are together.

But. There are downsides. Sometimes, I forget I'm married, which is not to say I go out and flirt, but that I  feel lonely (and alone) during the week. I miss my s.o., but talking on the phone feels like a poor substitute, especially when both of us are tired and a little cranky. Separating at the end of a nice weekend together is always painful. And I worry that we don't function enough as a team, what with "his" house and "my" house...the words "our" and "husband" don't come naturally to me yet, and it's tough to know if that's because I've spent so much of my life single, or because we haven't merged as fully as most couples. But is a full merging always a good idea? I'm not entirely convinced it is. What do you married and single folks think?


  1. You KNOW I have to comment on this one...:-)
    I have been doing this for 26 years; not by choice, but by other half's profession. I have grown to enjoy my time and our time. Not to say that it's been easy.. As it seems that every child crisis, hurricane ( whatever has occurred while he is on the road!)... But honestly? We both appreciate our time together all that much more. I think that is why after all this time he is still my very best friend!!

  2. I, a married folk, think the following. As long as you treat the separate households as an accommodation to your careers you'll be fine. If you start thinking of time together during weekends as an intrusion to your "real" life, I'd start worrying. On a related note, it's probably important to take most of your vacations together.
    BTW, I have spent the last half hour reading your posts instead of working, they're great! Love to see you in NYC on one of my fall trips...