Dear Miss Dinna,
I have been married to my wife for 7 years, we have 2 children, age 4 and 6, and about a year ago we decided to separate. We got married relatively young- these days— age 26, and I suppose we have somewhat outgrown each other/became bored and wanted more/something different/to explore life outside of each other.
The thing is, we have the kids and the house, and we are amicable, kind of like brother and sister ..so we've decided to continue to live together. We have one bedroom, but rarely sleep there together. It's just sort of casual, like sometimes we both fall asleep there, or sometimes one falls asleep elsewhere.
So here's my problem: all this would be fine, except that it creates a major damper on my dating life. I don't mention it unless things seem to be moving into a more serious dynamic, but as soon as I do, the person either leaves immediately with out a word (although clearly pissed), or expresses feeling as though they were deceived and not seeing how a future could grow under these circumstances.
Please help. I don't want to live in separate homes due to the convenience and the kids, but I want to experience other people freely. Advice?
Double Life, Double Strife
Dear Double Life, Double Trouble —
I'm very happy to receive this question, as I think it brings up a lot of issues that are relevant to today's changing world and the judgment of what is "normal" and "conventional" and what is "wrong and right" when it comes to marriage and family.
As marriage becomes more and more of an archaic concept, we are forced to move with the times and realize that relationships and family can now take many forms. Yours is an example of one: co-parenting while cohabitating.
For the sake of keeping it simple, I get the feeling and am going to assume that you are not looking for anything that serious right now in your life and simply want to date and explore. Moving forward, I then encourage you to ask yourself this question: If you are truly comfortable with this arrangement and believe that it is ok, with in your own standards of what is right and wrong in family and marriage, why are you not completely open with these facts?
Why is it that you only present this truth some time into dating a woman, rather then immediately? Double Life, Double Strife — even your signature presents as someone who is not completely comfortable or has a bit of shame behind their actions or choices.
DL,DS, I implore you to embrace this choice you made and find pride in it. If you cannot, then you probably have to reevaluate this arrangement. If you can, then once you are OK with your set up, there will be no space for other's judgments or their judgments simply won't matter. Your home life is a large part of who you are and how you move about daily... it should be one of the first things you mention upon getting to know someone on a first date.
I encourage you to open with these facts when talking about yourself, and with out apology, but with confidence and resolve in your voice. I am positive that most of these women have walked away from you in the past because they felt deceived by you and because you didn't give them the freedom to make a choice for themselves. I am also positive that many would respond much differently if you opened with these facts and had confidence and comfort in this arrangement yourself. I think you will be pleasantly surprised on how many women there are out there that will respond in-kind.
Best of Luck and Live Free!