Kama nimeipenda, utaipenda tu ******************** Photo/FILEFor various reasons, remaining legally married but leading separate lives under the same roof is a trend that is gaining popularity as the solution to a failed marriage. Posted Friday, September 9 2011 - The Nation From a distance, Edward and Juliet* seem like the ideal couple. In public, they speak well of each other, treat each other with respect and seemingly care for each other. This is where it all ends. Despite the fact that the two share a last name and even live under the same roof, they lead totally different lives. No one plans to have their marriage burn out. Break ups almost always cause heartaches and when they happen, most people usually just want to get it over with as soon as possible and move away from their partner to build a separate life. For many, the thought of being friends with, much less live with an ex-spouse may be more than they can deal with but for the sake of the children, some dare to take this path. With a worrying escalation in the rate of divorce in the recent past, the number of men and women taking up this state of matrimony otherwise known as non-divorce has also risen. For various reasons, remaining legally married but leading separate lives under the same roof is a trend that is gaining popularity as the solution to a failed marriage. Edward and Juliet met in campus and settled down together soon after their graduation. After what they describe as 10 relatively happy years and two children, they began drifting apart. With time, each had cultivated a separate self, a career and separate friendships. They were both so caught up in other aspects of their lives than none of them noticed that their connection was slowly fading. When it was clear that their relationship was no longer working, they chose to end the relationship but retain the marriage. We considered divorce but decided against it. We saw it better to stay together rather than go through a divorce and take the children through the emotional turmoil that characterises any divorce. The children stay put and dont have to shuttle from one home to the other. Our living together enables both of us to spend a lot of time with the children, says Edward. While they attend family functions together and remain legal spouses, behind closed doors communication between them doesnt go beyond the strictly necessary. They are both free to date other people as long as it is discreet and not in front of the children. They are constantly keen on keeping up an illusion of marriage to their children and the community. I know that few would be enthusiastic about our decision but we consider it realistic. We share the financial and emotional responsibilities of raising our children while staying out of each others way, he maintains. He is convinced that the children will turn out to be better adjusted than if they had decided to go through with a divorce with the dirty legal battle and custodial issues. Do they ever have awkward moments? I want to know. Every relationship has its ups and downs. We have days when we dont get along but by agreement, we never have fights or rows in front of the children. We may be different in many little ways but we know each others attitude, Edward says. Our relationship was long dead when we took up this arrangement. It was a mutual agreement and we both try to be adults about it. We dont hate each other; we just fell out of love. Having been married for over a decade we remain fairly good friends. He says the fact that their drift wasnt caused by infidelity or abuse means that neither harbours negative feelings for the other. In his view, this arrangement, which he describes as loveless but practical, works better for them. Aside from the normal challenges, he maintains that they are happy. Everyone wins. The children enjoy the security of the family unit and we have kept up social appearances and maintained our community status. Each of us understands the situation and we dont see anything blossoming between us in the future, he says. He adds that their children, who are in their teens, are old enough to understand that they are more important than the couples conflicts and that their parents love for them prevails. The non-divorce state of matrimony can turn out to be extremely unhappy and depressing if one of the partners still feels tenderly for the other. A 34-year-old woman I spoke to who is reluctant to speak even under the cover of anonymity knows this all too well. This mother of three, who for the purpose of this story we will call Regina, lives together with her husband of eight years, three of which they have been more of roommates than romantic partners. Regina reveals that her marriage has been rocky for as long as she can remember and at the time when she and her husband finally decided to split, they were barely on talking terms. Their decision to continue staying together but live separate lives within the framework of their family unit was more of a financial necessity than a choice. I have a terminal medical condition which requires a large amount of money to control and my husband, who has a well paying job, carries the family on his health insurance. Dissolving the legal union would have been impractical partly because I cannot afford to live on my own much less pay my medical bills, she says. To an onlooker, they appear content but secretly, she is hopeful. Her love for her husband is what motivates her to stay. She reveals that her husband has told her that she can see other people but she maintains that she pledged her life to only him. I believe that marriage should be forever and I still love him and hope that we can revive our relationship. I pray about it every night, she says. Regina says that it has been extremely difficult to emotionally separate from her husband unsuccessfully so. Its emotionally wearing but I am content in the knowledge of the fact that its serving a purpose. I try to distract myself from the emotional turmoil with work, hobbies and the children, she says. The couple agreed on important boundaries at the start so as to avoid any sudden blow ups or confusion. Each of them has their own personal space, as they sleep in separate bedrooms in different parts of the house. While their physical marriage is over, their financial affairs are married. Unlike roommates, they own property together and have joint assets, and he pays a large chunk of the bills. Regina recalls an instance recently when their seven-year-old daughter sought to know why her father no longer sleeps in the master bedroom they had previously shared. I told her that it is because her father snores and she seemed content with the explanation. I know that with time this explanation will cease to hold water and she will want to know the truth. I will need to open up about the situation to her when she is old enough to understand. I will cross the bridge when I get there, she shrugs. Would you settle for the non-divorce as a solution to a failed marriage? I pose to William, a married father of one. Marriage is deep. If you no longer feel the commitment to your significant other in your heart then it is not right to be committed on paper, he answers. The way he sees it, rather than being a solution, non-divorce is a threat to the family unit. He sees it as opening doors to the growing problem of immorality and sexually transmitted diseases. 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