A New Option For Unhappily Married Couples: Skip the Divorce Process And Just Live Separately

Here’s some interesting news for long-term unhappily married couples who aren’t exactly in relationship bliss but don’t want to go through the legal turmoil of divorce. More and more married couples are opting to live separately and meet maybe a couple of times a year while remaining married under the eye of the law.

The New York Times reported of this increasingly popular arrangement in a recent article "The Un-Divorced." Physically separated but legally bound, some married couples choose to live separately–whether in the same city or in completely different states. Some couples even report to kind of liking the arrangement, and getting along better with their estranged spouses now that they are no longer sharing the same roof and living space 24/7.

Maybe the children have already grown up and left the house, and there’s no need to go through the draining drama of divorce settlements. Maybe there is no rush to find a new romantic partner.

And of course–there are the tax and health care benefits of staying married. The majority of un-divorced couples do the whole separation thing out of financial convenience.

Some examples of famous people who followed this formula: super-rich chairman Warren Buffet, artist William de Kooning. Some not-so-famous examples of people who follow this formula: probably at least one coupleship you know of in your circle of contacts.

It seems like a lax way to avoid divorce drama. But of course, long-term separation without the official papers can make for some messy scenarios–especially if one half of the estranged union starts seeing a new romantic partner. Or if the financial situation for one partner drasticaly changes for the better or for the worse. Un-divorcing may not have ugly custody battles but comes with its own can of worms.

The rising phenomenon of separated but not divorced certainly raises interesting questions about the social institution of marriage and love. Such as: why do people bother getting married in the first place again? (Half-kidding.) 

As this relationship trend becomes a more publicly acknowledged option for unhappily married couples, perhaps it is now time to think up some new terms for people involved in this relationship limbo. Maybe in a few years, we will be seeing a dramatic rise in pseudo-wives, semi-spouses and half-husbands.