Not living with your husband is the key to a successful marriage

Most happily married people will admit that, from time to time, they'll yearn for a bit of alone time--perhaps an evening of peaceful sleep, without their partner's snoring and sheet hoarding--but, overall, they couldn't imagine spending long stretches of time without their spouse at their side. And yet Claire and David Burke of the U.K., who have been together for 11 years and married for 2 of those years, claim that living apart has been the very reason for their continued bliss. Though they have a 6-year-old son together, the Burkes have never lived together over the course of their relationship--and they have no intention of changing that arrangement, believing the time apart makes their interactions feel "more special."  

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David, a 41-year-old firefighter, still resides in the bachelor pad he occupied before meeting Claire: a three-story house with the obligatory "man cave" trappings such as a leather sofa and 40-inch flat screen TV. But 47-year-old Claire lives seven miles away. They see each other every day, have sex two to three times a week, enjoy dinner as a family (David often cooks), and share parental responsibilities (their son, Jay, sleeps at his dad's house two to three nights a week). Still, every evening, David kisses his wife, wishes her a good night, and sets off to his own abode. 

Claire admits that, when she first started dating David in 2003, she envisioned they'd eventually have a more traditional set-up, with both of them living under the same roof. At the time, she was coming out of a ten-year marriage and tending to her three sons from that relationship: Lee, now 20; 18-year-old Billy; and 15-year-old Max. She imagined waking up next to David every morning just like a "normal" couple would do. David, however, made it clear that he had no intention of moving in with Claire and, in fact, never spent the night at her place. In 2005, frustrated by what she perceived as a lack of commitment from David, Claire suggested they end the relationship. But a year later, they were back together with the agreement that David would show his commitment to Claire on all fronts--except co-habitating.

When their son Jay was born in 2008 and they discovered he had Down's Syndrome, Claire and David discussed living together so as to save money--after all, Claire knew she'd have to quit her job to tend to her son, and paying two mortgages on a single income would be difficult. Ultimately, however, they agreed that living together could take a toll on their relationship and so they forged ahead, sticking to their separate residence set-up. 

According to Claire, she eventually grew to enjoy their admittedly unconventional arrangement. In fact, when David proposed two years ago, she asked, "I don't have to live with you, do I?" He assured her that she wouldn't, and off they went to get hitched.

The Burkes say that being together but living apart allows them to not take one another for granted. They claim the arrangement also ensures that they see each other out of a sheer desire to do so and not because of a sense of obligation or spacial constraints. 

So are the Burkes onto something here? Personally, I can't imagine entertaining such malarkey. To me, living together is a crucial part of a couple's intimacy. And I can't imagine not wanting to see my husband's face in the morning. There's something about seeing each other with bed head and morning breath, about having the kids crawl into bed with you after they had a nightmare ...  It's part of being a family.

If this arrangement actually makes both parties happy, then more power to them. But, to me, it sounds like Claire compromised her desires in order to keep the man she loved and maybe convinced herself that she was comfortable with an arrangement that, deep down inside, she knew didn't fulfill her emotional needs. As for David, he needs to grow up. If he plans on raising a man, he should learn how to fully grow into a man himself.

Image via Thinkstock

Topics: husband  love  marriage  relationship  living together