Are You Separated But Still Living Together? 9 Rules To Set To Make It Bearable

You both gave it your best shots, but the relationship isn't gelling.

Right now, separation is the only viable option.

Unfortunately, you're not part of the 1%, and setting up two households is a bit too spicy for your budget right now.

So now you're wondering: Is being separated in the same house a thing? 

Could we legally get separated but remain under the same roof?

In most cases, yes. It's possible. 

And we're breaking it all down below.

It may sound counterintuitive, but living with an estranged spouse during a formal separation is perfectly acceptable- and fairly common. 

In fact, some couples opt to cohabitate even after divorcing.  

But it's not for everyone. Before giving it a shot, consider the following:

  • Jurisdictions have different laws. Double-check that living separately together is legally viable in your state.
  • How contentious is the situation? Does looking at each other inspire rage? If you're still in the red-hot angry stage, do everything possible to find other accommodations.
  • What is the pro-con list for affected people? Do you have children or elderly parents that could be positively or negatively affected by your choice? 
  • Genuinely consider whether you'll get the necessary space to make sound decisions about the next steps.

Is living together after a separation right for you? 

Only you and your partner can answer that question. 

But if you keep reading, we'll lay out a bunch of considerations to ponder when weighing your options.

Why Would You Choose To Be Separated But Living Together? 

Many people are surprised to learn that many couples opt to continue living together after separating or even divorcing. 

But why? 

Let's unpack a few common reasons.

couple talking in kitchen rules for Living Together When Separated 

Children’s Needs

For many people, family bonds trump all. Even if mom and dad no longer feel a romantic connection, for some folks, living under a single roof is the best dynamic for everyone involved. 

This can be especially true if your children have unique needs, special considerations, or even a super busy schedule requiring advanced logistics management and multiple helping hands. 

Expenses / Finances

It's tough out there, and many people are feeling the pinch. Prices are up; wages are down. And for many people, that means having to cohabitate with estranged partners.

Don't abuse yourself for falling into this category. Increasing numbers of people are standing in the same shoes. 

Under these circumstances, developing a budget with an eye toward “saving for the physical separation” is essential.

Housing Shortage

It's impossible to find housing in some regions. Even if you can afford it, nothing that fits everyone's needs may be available. 

Property Dispute

Not everyone stays under the same roof for amicable or cooperative reasons. Sometimes, it's about staking a claim. Each party may want to claim the property, and their attorneys advise them to stay put, resulting in a stand-off.

Even if things are wildly contentious, do your best to work out boundaries.

Otherwise, the situation may devolve into an avoidable mess that will only cost you both more in the long run. 

You're Great Roommates

It's also not unusual for couples to realize they're better as friends. In these friendly situations, staying put is an easy decision.

However, it never works if one person is lying about only wanting to be friends when, in reality, they'll say anything to keep the other person around in the hopes of rekindling the flame. 

Otherwise, staying put could be a logistical lifesaver. And who knows, maybe your platonic relationship will develop into something more than the romance ever was. 

9 Rules For Living Together When Separated 

You've decided that living together while separated is the best option for now.

But understand that it will take effort, patience, and boundary-setting to work.

So what rules should you set before stepping into this brave new world? Let's explore a few.

1. Designate Spaces

Whether you have a studio apartment or a 15-bedroom mansion, designate individual spaces.

family sitting at table Rules for Living Together When Separated

At a minimum, you should each have a bed (even if they must be side by side or one person gets the couch).

Also, consider the following questions:

  • How will the common space be used?
  • Will you share cooking responsibilities or adopt an “each man for their own” approach?
  • What about the bathrooms? Establish showering times in advance.

Each party should commit to keeping their spaces free of potential hazards (rodents, insects, mold, et cetera) and decorating in a way that's not offensive or drama-inducing. 

2. Make Schedules and Task Agreements

Don't leave a single detail unturned. And while it may feel like an unnecessary, extra effort, write everything down. Some cohabiting-but-separated couples go so far as to make task charts.

Things go a lot smoother when everyone is on the same page and clear about their responsibilities. 

3. Resist the Urge To Be Controlling

As long as everyone sharing the home is clean enough to keep pests away and observe normal hygiene and noise standards, that's enough for personal spaces. 

In other words: Don't let yourself get crazy about how your estranged partner chooses to keep their private space — and vice versa. You're separated. Neither of you has the authority to dictate personal space details.

Common areas are another story. Everyone must pull their weight to keep things clean and manageable. 

4. Don't “Re-Intimate”

Some days it will feel like torture, but try not to hop back into bed together. Even kissing and light petting should be off-limits. Netflix and chill are no longer on the menu for you! 

Confusing the situation with intermittent sexual encounters is a recipe for heightened drama and emotional turmoil. 


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5. Figure Out a “Meal Plan”

Remember to discuss how you'll handle shopping, food, and meals. Will it be every person for themselves? Will you split the fridge down the center? If kids are in the picture, will you agree to eat as a family? Or maybe a one night on, one night off schedule works best. 

We're not here to dictate the best schedule. Circumstances differ. Simply ensure a firm plan is in place. And don't forget to discuss who is paying for what.

6. Establish a “No Dates at Home” Rule

This one is self-explanatory.

If you and your ex agree to start dating other people but remain living under the same roof, do yourselves a favor and make a “no dates at home” rule. If you have kids, it's mandatory. 

7. Create a Budget

Regardless of your previous financial situation, creating a new budget is essential if you want to live together while separated. Put it on paper. As a symbol of understanding, both of you should sign it too. If necessary, have your attorney make it official. 

mom sitting with children reading Rules for Living Together When Separated

8. Insist on a “No Fighting” Rule

Whether you have kids or not, a no-fighting rule is wise. Of course, there will be times when you're annoyed with each other and will retreat into your separate spaces. Otherwise, leave the screaming and yelling to lawyers' offices and therapists' couches. 

9. Pick an End Date

Living together through a separation period can work for some couples, but setting an end date for the arrangement is still important. Will you do it for a month or several years? Is there a goal you must reach before finding a different place? 

Talk it all out and determine when you'll officially part ways. 

Broad-Issue Considerations When Living Together While Separated

  • If possible, do your best to ensure your personal spaces are visibly separated. Even if you have an open-concept layout, get temporary or portable room dividers.  
  • Do you have a garage? Figure out whose car goes where.
  • Got pets? You need a plan for that, too.
  • What about friends coming over? Is it allowed or off-limits?
  • Don't pretend to be a couple in public. It'll just make things more difficult down the line. Moreover, it's confusing for your kids.
  • Maintain separate bank accounts and agree on how much each party will contribute to household bills and upkeep.
  • Don't show up to family functions together. Yes, you may be close to each others' loved ones, but you're separated, so don't blur the lines.

How Does an In-House Separation Impact Your Kids?

Are children a consideration? If so, it's vital to prioritize their comfort and needs. And while it may be difficult, being honest with them about the situation is necessary. 

Kids are perceptive. They know when there's tension or dynamics have changed. Trying to pull the wool over their eyes won't work.

Things to think about include the following:

  • Will you still have family time?
  • Where will the children sleep?
  • What about meals? Will you all eat together or switch on and off?
  • Do your kids have school or extracurricular activities? Who will be responsible for bringing them?
  • How about vacations? Will you travel as a family?

If your children have special medical or educational needs, establish a firm plan for doctor and teacher visits and evaluations.

Should You Sleep with Your Husband While Separated? 

Sleeping with your husband while separated is a terrible, no-good, very bad idea. 

We get it. Sometimes, you both have needs, and you're both there. Not only that, but you know what works with one another. Who knows, maybe the only thing you currently have in common is great sex, so you think: Why not!?

But it's seldom a good idea. (And no, you're not the exception!) Crawling back into bed together will muddy the waters and make things infinitely more difficult. Not only will your head be out of whack, but so will your hormones. And from there, your perspective and decision-making prowess will suffer.

At times, it will be challenging. Everything will be pounding and screaming. But do yourself a favor and refrain.

Can You Sleep with Someone Else While Separated and Living Together?

Whether you can be sexually intimate with someone other than your estranged spouse during a separation depends on the details of your situation. 

  • How will it affect any involved children?
  • Is there a clause in your prenup? Will dating someone during the separation phase jeopardize divorce settlement options?
  • Do you hope to get back together and not eventually divorce?
  • Will risky sexual behavior impact your living situation or other family members?

Timing will also significantly impact whether it's appropriate to sleep with other individuals during your time apart. 

Recently separated people may want to hold off and first deal with the emotions of letting go and starting semi-anew. 

However, couples who've been separated for years may have no issue with either party dating or getting serious with someone else.  

The key is honest communication. Since separation is not a divorce, you and your partner still have a bond — tenuous as it may be.

Regardless, establishing broad-stroke boundaries and expectations for third parties is wise and will help mitigate blow-ups down the line.

Can Your Marriage Survive Separation?

Here's an encouraging statistic: About 50% of couples who separate eventually get back together. So if you're genuinely hoping for an eventual reunion, you have every reason to be hopeful. However, don't strap on blinders and refuse to acknowledge the reality of the situation. 

What things should you consider when evaluating the likelihood of getting back together?

  • Your Partner's Feelings: If they've made it clear they have no desire to get back together, believe them.
  • Logistical Realities: If your professional or familial obligations are pulling you in opposite directions, and you can't agree about how it will all work, try not to get your hopes up. Sometimes, life has a way of making decisions for us.
  • Future Goals and Aspirations: If you can't support each other's aims and ambitions, the chances of a smooth relationship diminish exponentially. 
  • Third-Party Involvement: No rule says love is eternal. People fall in and out of love every day. If you or your ex found someone new, focus on moving on instead of holding out hope. 
  • Addiction Issues: Sadly, loved ones sometimes fall prey to addiction. It's painful to watch, but ultimately, they must change themselves. If they're unwilling, the only option may be to separate for good.

Final Thoughts

Relationships can be difficult, complicated, and winding. Sometimes, agreeing to a formal separation can be the break needed to get things back on track or realize it's over. 

Every couple handles the time apart differently. But as long as you approach things with honesty, clarity, mutual respect, and an extra helping of “chillness,” living together when separated is possible.

But is it right for you? Weigh the specific facts and logistical realities of your situation. Talk to friends and family; most importantly, have long discussions with your estranged partner. 

If you can't be civil enough to outline parameters, you may not be able to cohabitate in a state of separation. Conversely, if hammering out a plan is possible, and you're not at each others' throats, residing under the same roof may be a workable solution. 

Divorce or separation doesn't have to be a nightmare. Discover ground rules for peaceful cohabitation after a split that work for everyone.