“My husband and I have totally different concepts of marriage,” said Megan, 41, a high school guidance counselor who has dark brown hair and freckles. “I want us to be as close as possible in every way, but Tom seems to prefer having a lot more distance between us.”
“Over the past nine years of our marriage, Tom has created all these boundaries based on our different schedules and tastes. For example, I’m a big spender, and he’s a saver, so he insists we keep our money in separate accounts, buy our own groceries, and split household bills. We sleep apart because my snoring keeps him awake. (I can’t remember the last time we visited each other’s bedrooms and made love.) We dine separately five nights a week because Tom likes to eat at 6 p.m., and I often don’t get home from work until after 7 p.m. We have different tastes in TV programs, so he says it’s logical for us to have our own sets. Since we chose not to have children, we don’t even have any real family-related events to bring us together. All these boundaries make me feel like his roommate, not his wife!
“If that isn’t upsetting enough, Tom is emotionally distant, too. He doesn’t talk, no longer likes taking walks or playing cards — all things we enjoyed early in our marriage. If I complain about our unconventional lifestyle, Tom looks at me as if I’m crazy, mutters under his breath, and stomps around the house. Why can’t he give me the closeness I deserve?
“Growing up, I wasn’t close to my parents. My father, the stable, calm type, worked long hours as a bricklayer; my mother, a homemaker, had an explosive personality. She constantly hollered at my younger brother and me; she spanked us if our rooms were messy.
“Fourteen years ago, when I was working as an x-ray technician, I met Tom at a two-day education workshop (he’s also an x-ray technician). Since we lived two hours apart, we dated only on weekends. I didn’t mind the arrangement; it gave me space to do my own thing during the week. As a boyfriend, Tom was attentive and affectionate. His calm and logical demeanor appealed to me. Together, we enjoyed taking nature walks, visiting zoos, and going to the movies.
“Within a year, we were in love, but Tom said he wasn’t in a hurry to get married. Then, four years into our relationship, when I suspected that he might be a confirmed bachelor, I asked him whether he envisioned us marrying. ‘If not,’ I said, ‘I want to date other people.’ Tom quickly replied, ‘Then let’s get married.’