Design

How One Couple Lives Separately, Together

One Family's Creative Approach to Living

For anyone currently in a live-in relationship, have you ever secretly wished for a room (or, say, a whole home) of your own? Cup of Jo reader Cecilia Latorre and her partner Gerry live in Edmonton, Canada, in two homes joined in the middle — a non-traditional arrangement that works perfectly for their blended family. “When we first talked about moving in together, I’d say in jest, ‘Side-by-side houses, wouldn’t that be great?’” says Cecilia. “To which he’d respond, ‘Yeah, but we’re never going to find that!’” Until they did…

Edmonton Family with Conjoined Homes

Cecilia and Gerry met in December 2013. As they grew more serious, the couple talked about moving in together, along with their four children (Cecilia’s daughter Maite, 20, and son Javier, 17; and Gerry’s daughters Elise, 12, and Claire, 10). One day, while on vacation, Cecilia told Jerry, “I’d love to live alone, together.” He was open to the idea, so Cecilia googled ‘Edmonton side-by-side houses’ and their current home popped up. “As soon as I saw it, I was like, ‘Oh, my god, there it is.’ We moved in last December.”

One Family's Creative Approach to Living

Javier, 17, Cecilia, and Paisley the cat, who live in the right-side house

At first, people were confused by their new arrangement. “When we told friends and relatives, they had lots of questions,” Cecilia says. “‘Are you separating? What does this mean?’ We just explained that it worked best for our family.”

Gerry and Daughters

Gerry with daughters Claire, 10, and Elise, 12, who live in the left-side house

After a couple months, the family settled into a routine. “In the evening, Gerry eats dinner with the girls, then I’ll go over after dinner, for tea,” says Cecilia. “We create specific pockets of quality time as a family.”

One Family's Creative Approach to Living

The family also does game nights — usually Jenga or Trivial Pursuit — and they have holiday traditions. “On Christmas Eve, the kids form teams, and each pair builds a gingerbread house. Once the house is built, they have to convince us to ‘invest’ in their houses, giving reasons why theirs is the best. It’s sort of like Shark Tank,” laughs Cecilia. “In the end, of course, they both win.” Even though the kids are pretty far apart in age, they all get along. Javier babysits the younger kids, and they’ll ride bikes together.

This Family Lives in an Adjoined Home

Cecilia and Gerry say the decision has been great for their own relationship. “I’m super tidy — that’s my zen. Gerry loves that he can come home and put his keys wherever he wants without someone telling him otherwise. He’ll have hockey nights at home, where he can knock himself out watching sports, while I’ll be on my side, watching Catastrophe.” Cecilia also swears by the separate sleeping arrangements. “When I get into my bed every day, I give thanks. I sleep with three comforters and socks, and Jerry sleeps with a fan and just a sheet. Before, one of us would be hot or cold, and now we can each do our thing. The intimacy is still there. We make time for each other, and then when it’s time for sleep, we’re like, ‘Bye!’”

The Paisley Family

We always love learning about different living arrangements, whether it’s living alone, two families sharing one house, or having separate bedrooms. After all, sometimes the unexpected path turns out to be the perfect one for you. “In life, there are often so many places you never thought you’d be,” Cecilia says. “I couldn’t have predicted this, but we love it!”

Thank you so much, Cecilia! Your family seems wonderful.

P.S. Another beautiful Canadian home, and one family’s downsized dream house.

(Photos by Janine Rose for Cup of Jo.)

  1. Nina says...

    I loved reading this. While I don’t know that fully separate homes would work for me, I appreciate seeing different situations for different couples.
    My husband works late nights during the week so we are like ships in the night all week; he’s still asleep when I leave for work and I’m asleep by the time he gets home, which means we really only see each other on weekends. A lot of people have asked us if it’s hard and, while it does have its drawbacks, we both love it. He can do whatever he wants to do during the day while I’m at work and I can eat popcorn for dinner and watch the same three TV shows over and over after work without feeling bad. And then when we do see each other on weekends, it’s almost more exciting because it’s been a few days since we’ve really been able to hang out.
    Before we were married, we were long distance for a number of years and this feels like the perfect middle ground for us.

  2. Erin says...

    My ILs essentially converted their home into two separate but intermingling homes. They *really* needed separate kitchens – because they love to cook but with, shall we say, different styles of organization/chaos – so a second was added to the finished basement. Separate bedrooms, as they keep each other up. Separate office/dens, so they have their own comfortable spaces.

    The living room and dining room are shared. So they sit down to a meal together, which they’ve both prepared in separate kitchens. It works really well for them. They didn’t make the conversions until after the kids had all grown, so it’s interesting to hear about a family doing it with kids still at home. (I suspect my spouse and siblings would have been happy with the arrangement, as it keeps the peace.)

    A duplex with a shared common area would be perfect for them, and I suspect many other couples as well.

  3. Emily L says...

    I really appreciate reading more “non traditional” ways that couples and families work! It amazes me that we can be so advanced as a society in some ways and so backwards in others… I’ve had close family members and friends think it was weird that I went on vacation without my husband once and recently spent 4 weeks apart while I scoped out the place we hope to move to and he stayed in our current city and continued to work. Everyone should just do what is best for them and their relationships! So what if it’s different??

  4. I love this. I always thought if I lived with a partner again, I would want to buy a duplex together and each of us would get our own floor.

  5. june2 says...

    This is my ideal – with the addition of a courtyard garden instead of a wall separating the two. Nice duplex’s are easy enough to find here as well though the garden arrangement would be a custom adjustment most likely. Imagine buying/renting side by side apartments would work in a city as well. If you own then you can just install a connecting door and you’re there.

    Thank you so much for posting – it reminds me to keep the dream alive!

  6. Vicki says...

    I had to reread this a few times because I thought Cecelia’s ex-husband and her current husband were both living in the two houses. Mostly because you use both “Jerry” and “Gerry”. A little confusing…

  7. Tara says...

    I’m trying to be more open to non tradtional living sitations. I was married and mom’ed my ex husband a lot. I never knew how much emotional and physcial work work I was doing to keep it all afloat. It was exhausting. Years later I’m in a new relationship with a lovely man. He has a 7 year old and he is the primary parent. His family moved in to help him. They are all raising the little boy together as the mother is not in the picture much.

    He is so loved and it’s very beautiful. I live 2 miles away and I don’t ever see myself moving in I need my space. I freak out a lot what our future will look like as we want to to have a baby. I love my home. My garden. My quiet moments and shitty bachelor TV and eating weird shit for dinner. I spent so much time taking care of others and it’s ALL MINE. No gross underwear to pick up and only me to blame for the dishes. I feel lucky to be born in the time period and I can create whatever beautiful living situation I want.

  8. Zima says...

    Am I the only one in sneakily checking what is on people’s bookshelves? Franzen and Chimamanda get you extra points from me. :)
    Beautiful story.

  9. Hanna says...

    When my dad and step mom started seriously thinking about marriage they had five kids between them, ages 13-18. They lived 40 miles apart and couldn’t afford a housing solution that would put all of us kids under one roof or two near-by roofs. They ended up waiting 6 more years to live together, when all of us were finally out of school. In the meantime, they drove back and forth A LOT. It worked, and all of us kids were grateful not to be crammed into either of the small houses. But it’s sure nice to hear about a family that found a closer solution!

  10. Capucine says...

    We rented a house next door to my in-laws and it was such a gift beyond what I ever imagined. We could hear them, we popped in and out multiple times a day – but they had solitude to be old and tired and my kids had space to be loud and grumpy. Now my mother in law is gone, I recognize it as the golden time it was.

    My brother has his ex wife and her new family in his basement apartment. His kids move between the two living spaces. It’s not a setup dating works well for, but it means he never lost his kids from the divorce, which was his priority. After five years, I guess that means it works for them!

    I respect how this setup lets the two families retain the shape they healed into after divorce. I can honor that.

  11. Trina says...

    I always enjoy reading stories that validate my own experience! My partner and I have been living apart together for nearly 10 years now. We each lived alone for many years before we met each other, so we were both accustomed to the privacy of our own places. Now, though, I’m more often at his place (two miles away, in the same town) when we want to spend time together; my place is my “room of one’s own,” where I can go for the alone time my introverted self craves, and he understands that and is not threatened by it—the only male I’ve ever met or been in a relationship with who isn’t! Even at his place, though, we sleep in separate bedrooms, which frankly has helped keep us from sniping grouchily at each other throughout the night and into the morning and beyond. But we almost always eat dinner together (unless he’s working) and we otherwise spend time together seeing museums, attending arts performances, going on walks or hikes, traveling, and doing other couples stuff together.

    We didn’t set out to have this arrangement but it has worked out for us really well. I doubt we would’ve lasted this long if we didn’t have it (and indeed this has been the longest relationship for either of us, ever).

  12. Well I wish I had the budget to setup a house into 2 partitions in the first place :/ I have been living with my girlfriend for the past 2 years now and realize both of us are actually looking for the same common thing (SPACE). I like my soccer games. And she likes her tv shows. I wish we could just have the space to place 2 tvs in different locations so we don’t have to disturb one another without one of us having to sacrifice (usually her) :-P . I guess I should show her this article and come up with some ideas to split our little home into 2.

    • Lolly says...

      Y’all can’t watch both things, next to ea other on a couch, both on some device, with ear plugs in? It’s not the big tv….but then you’re together but watching what you each want to watch…. (Btw, we haven’t had a tv in 7yrs….we/the kids watch shows online on a laptop, ipad, kindle, whatever….)

  13. Mara says...

    My husband and I have been together for 12 years and only 2 years ago (!!) went from a double bed (!!) to a king bed. He sleeps like the dead and would always roll over on top of me, oblivious…I probably got 3 hours of sleep a night if I was lucky and got so tired of being elbowed in the head. So two serious game-changers: the king bed, and then each of us getting our own comforter, European style. He sleeps with heavy comforters, and I prefer a light sheet year round. We live in a one-bedroom condo, 650 sq ft and are always on top of one another (and not in a good way)… someday I hope we can afford a place with two bedrooms and two bathrooms, and could each have our own rooms. A girl can dream. Thank you so much Joanna for profiling non-tradition arrangements, particularly in an age of “do you”!

  14. alice says...

    I love that they live the way that perfectly suits them :)

  15. Raquel says...

    Thanks for sharing this Joanna. I love seeing how many different roads lead to happiness. This arrangement looks amazing, especially as I look for a 2 bedroom in NY!

  16. Megan says...

    Amazing! So good that they found what works best for them. My husband works 2 states away so he lives in a condo we rent s-th & drives home for the weekends. Our plan has always been to move when we are ready, but this arrangement works for now. we have 2 young children (2 being a newborn!) and that is by far the hardest aspect. The physical distance is not difficult for me to navigate at all. And, i say this with love, but he is just a lazy dude & when he’s not around to help, it’s a lot less frustrating than when he is there, but not being helpful!

  17. When my dad passed away 20 years ago, my husband and I and my mom designed and built our own side-by-side houses (with adjoining doors in the laundry rooms) in our town. My mom had several autoimmune diseases that made things like yardwork, vehicle maintenance, lugging softener salt to the basement, etc. tricky for her, so this was a fantastic solution for us all (should I clarify that my husband and I lived on one side, and my mom lived on the other side?).
    At parties, we could open up the adjoining doors, and the festivities could spill over into both homes, or if she were hosting a group of friends for a meal, my husband & I would sometimes cook and serve food for them from our house, so that she could enjoy her company and not futz about with food prep. We took care of the some of the “heavy lifting” parts of managing a life, and she would cook for us about once a week.
    About 7 years ago, she needed to move into an assisted living facility because of her dementia, but I think our living arrangement enabled her to live in her own home for a while longer than if she had been trying to manage living all alone in a separate house.
    Although the side-by-side situation required some adjustments and boundary-setting when we first moved in, it was such a sweet season of life for us all… Both my husband and I look back on those years with much affection and gratitude that we were able to share that time together with my mom: close, but still apart.

    • kath says...

      this is so beautiful. you and your husband are wonderful.
      xoxo

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      karla, that is really beautiful. xo

    • alison says...

      i really love this <3

    • Erin says...

      That is such a great solution for that period of life and phase of a family!

      My parents are still active and healthy, but starting to slow down. We’d love something like that so that we could have our own space but share meals, child care, company, etc. My husband and I actually discussed trying to add on an attached home for them off our own, since they’d like to move to our city but can’t afford the housing costs (but we can’t get a suitable one-level layout on our lot).

    • Amber says...

      How wonderful and loving :-)

  18. Sford says...

    The best my husband and I have managed is a dual-tog duvet (I have the thick side and he has the thin side) – its a revelation! Quite often I will sleep in our guest room if he snores (usually if hes very tired or had a drink or two!), I get the best night’s sleep then! Starfishing all the way!

  19. Great idea. Also, off topic, loving three of my favorite writers side by side: Paul Auster, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Tara Westover on the sixth picture.

  20. Amanda says...

    This is fantastic and I want it for my marriage, haha. I’ve actually told my husband I would love to have, like, 2 apartments with a door in between them. But, seriously, kudos to this family for finding an arrangement that works for them and then going for it, despite what others think. There are lots of ways to live as a family, and this seems like a great choice for folks who want to be together but also have a little separation.

  21. Kelly P says...

    This seems like a dream living arrangement to me. I’m currently living in a 600 sq ft 1 bedroom cottage with my husband and it’s… well…. cozy! I actually think my ideal situation would be a shared family home with a studio guest house/carriage house or some other close by yet separate space on the same property. That way when anyone wants his/her own space (or when snoring becomes unbearable) there’s somewhere to escape to. If only!

    Thanks for sharing this. It’s always so interesting to get a fresh take on the way people choose to live.

  22. Leah says...

    Sounds like a great idea to me! Thanks for sharing Cecelia & Gerry!
    I was so excited to see they were from Edmonton! My city too! How on earth was this connection made? And next time Cup of Jo comes to town, I want to know about it!!! 😀🎉

    • Bevan says...

      Same here! I thought I was one of the only Cup of Jo readers from Edmonton. Lovely to see that the community spreads right across the globe.

    • Kaylee says...

      Edmonton Cup is Jo reader here too! Small world :)

  23. Anna says...

    I love that they found what works for them!

    One of my best friends just moved out of the suburban home she and her husband shared and she is loving her hip urban apartment and – largely because of the space – falling in love with her hubs again.

    Not saying this is true for the couple featured, but my friend and maybe others are concluding they’re just not that into the structural default of being in charge of all of the guy’s domestic stuff (laundry, cleaning, groceries) once you live together. It’s one thing to fight the mostly uphill battle of compromise and divvying stuff up and it’s another to just say ‘Right, so you do your stuff, and I’ll do mine and we’ll love each other more if I never have to take another one of your dishes up the stairs to the dishwasher.’

    Our house on the other hand is a game of musical beds. Usually my husband falls asleep to TV in our guest room and snores away on his down pillows (I’m allergic) and I sleep in our master with synthetic pillows and a pile of books by the bed. Sometimes we both sleep in the master if we’re feeling cuddly and well rested. Sometimes one of us will go sleep with our 2.5 and 4 year old (they share a king mattress on the floor of their room). And sometimes one or both of the girls make their way to one or both of us during the night. Now that I am saying all this out loud it sounds like we’re a house of zombies, hahaha.

    • june2 says...

      I love the king mattress on the floor idea for young toddlers. Just removes all the stress from ‘falling out of bed’ worries! Presumably once they’re older they will graduate to their own ‘grown up’ beds off the floor and what a lovely right of passage occasion that could be for them as well. Reminds me of ‘Baby’s’ room in Spirited Away haha.

  24. Nigerian Girl says...

    Now this is interesting. I know a couple who live in a conjoined house in London. The husband has his own ‘side’, and the wife has her own ‘side’. The husband works in Lagos so he shuttles between Lagos and London. The wife and the kids work/school in London respectively, so they stay in London full-time. This arrangement works for them. In Nigeria, it’s not unusual or alarming for a couple to sleep in separate bedrooms under the same roof. My parents do, as do most of my relatives and my friends’ parents. Even younger couples do so as well for various reasons. There’s no single way to be in a relationship. This article has got me thinking about myself though. I’ve lived alone for ten years and I’ve been single for most of my adult life. As someone who likes her space, would I be willing and able to live with a romantic partner? Hmm.

    • Monisha says...

      Haha, I can so relate to this. In India too, it’s super common to have couples sleep in different rooms- not just older couples but people in their 30’s too. Many reasons- sleep time habits, AC usage, early morning runs, snoring… or just that they find it easier to find the intimacy when they are not in each other hair all night, very night!

  25. Catherine says...

    I love everything about this post! The honesty, the photos. Thank you for sharing. More like this please!

  26. Amy says...

    I’ve been reading cup of jo forever and I was so happily surprised to see a story featured where I live!
    I had to laugh because although the couples living situation is unique, we have tons and tons of duplexes or joined homes here!

    • Agnes says...

      I know right?? Aren’t those just called duplexes? Hahaha. Where I live (northern Canada as well) many Southeast Asian families have built larger homes that have separate suites, whereby extended family can live with one another, close but not completely together. That would be interesting to know more about :)

  27. Yes, yes, yes! Cecilia and Gerry: thank you for sharing your lives with us and courageously following your own paths. There’s so much pressure to conform to certain norms that may or may not align with what we want. You are so inspiring!

  28. Em says...

    Love this idea! I bought a house a few years ago and talked to my boyfriend about the possibility of him moving in, but…
    We wanted to live together but we both hesitated about sharing a bed every single night, since we both have very different sleeping schedules. He stays up until 2 or 3am and doesn’t have to be to work until late. I, on the other hand, get into bed around 9pm every night and wake up early. On top of that, I’m a light sleeper and wake up at every little noise or movement. We decided that we would compromise by each taking over one of the two small bedrooms in the house. Best decision ever. From Sunday night-Thursday night, we sleep separately. I starfish and typically sleep like a baby. On Friday and Saturday nights, we have a sleepover! One of us will drag our pillows and phone charger over to the other person’s room. I don’t always get the best night’s sleep on those nights, but I sure do love the cuddling.

    When new people come over I always have to explain the two bedrooms thing, and sometimes I worry about what they’ll will think. But eh, who cares. We still love each other very much and this living/sleeping situation is the tits!

    • Sarah says...

      When new people come over I bet they think how cool your set up is and how much sense it makes.

    • Katie says...

      There was a time where my husband and I weren’t sleeping in the same bed. I casually mentioned it to my mom and she was horrified. I was genuinely confused about what the problem was. I think she thought it was the end of the marriage.

  29. Janine says...

    My friend’s parents live apart but remain in a committed marriage, but here’s the kicker: when her husband moved out, she moved her ex-husband in! Apparently, they lived as roommates, and he occupied an upstairs apartment. They did this to appease the children from her first marriage, while my friend and his siblings from the second marriage lived apart from their father. He said they liked the ex though, and he was like a fun uncle to them. Now that all the kids are grown, his parents live together again.

    It’s a head scratcher.

    • june2 says...

      It’s just love? A lot of people have healthy non-sexual friendships with their ex’s especially if he’s a father to their children.

  30. Libbynan says...

    My husband and I lived in different houses a mile apart for nearly four years. We had already been sleeping in separate bedrooms because of thermostat issues. When my mom moved to assisted living, I moved into her house which I owned anyway. Frankly, the hubs had become so overprotective since I was treated for cancer that he was driving me nuts. After slightly more than four years, I had to have major surgery and I moved back in to recuperate. During this time our daughter had to take in her two grandchildren and needed a new place to live. We gave her our big place and remodeled mom’s old place for ourselves. We still have separate bedrooms, but get along much better. He learned that I can take care of myself and about what it takes to keep up a house. He’s much more helpful and doesn’t hover quite so much. I, of course, am just as perfect as I always was, heh! Every woman I know envied me those four years and swears that more marriages would last if all couples could live separately, whether next door, across the street, or two towns over!

  31. Christy says...

    This is a frickin genius idea.

    • Kim L says...

      I LOVE hearing about non traditional arrangements like this. Would love to read about more! Communal living as adults, kibbutzes, poly living situations, etc. So neat to get a window into the ways that other people make relationships of all kinds survive and thrive. And also normalizes these different arrangements for those who have dreamed about them but never seen their reality as a true possibility. Thank you!

    • Woman in Need of Space says...

      I am so jealous! That is all.

  32. Kara says...

    What a great option for blending two families with children! Step family dynamics are challenging enough as it is. I imagine their children feel very prioritized with this arrangement. (Speaking from the perspective of having divorced parents since I was essentially a baby and therefore an almost lifetime of experience with step families.) My dad re-married when I was in high school, and they bought a new house together, but he kept our childhood home for several years after, which really helped me (and obviously was a huge privilege). But this would’ve been ideal! And I actually think they’d still benefit from it decades later :)

  33. Kristy says...

    My city too!

  34. ann says...

    My husband and I just decided to live separately after 6 years of marriage (10 years of living together). Best decision we have ever made. We share a 2 yr old daughter but she stays with me most nights. My husband comes over for dinner twice a week during the week and we spend every weekend together but those nights we have to ourselves have been a game changer. I honestly believe that more people would stay married if they weren’t forced to live together due to finances/societal expectations.

    • liz says...

      I dont know if any comment has ever made me consider something so seriously. This could save my marriage.

    • SG says...

      I can totally see how this could work for some couple. I am curious about how you navigate childcare though. Sounds like you do the bulk of it if she sleeps at your place most of the time and he only comes over two nights a week. Do you ever get resentful about this aspect?

    • Katie says...

      @SG…Sometimes I wish I could handle the day-to-day with the kids without accommodating another adult. It sounds like Ann still has the support when/if she needs or wants it.

  35. CS says...

    Very cool. Love that people can do it their own way! Sounds very relaxing for them! For me, I love sharing a bed. Sleeping with my husband makes me feel cozy and safe. However, for several years, we had a smaller bed, and I always felt too constrained (I like to move around when I sleep). 6 years ago, we bought a king sized bed. Oh my! I haven’t looked back! I’m star-fishing it and salmon flopping joyfully over at my side whenever I like. The best arrangement for us. Lol.

  36. Shannon says...

    The mystery writer Robert B. Parker and his wife had this living arrangement, (they’ve both since passed away). It definitely worked for them. I think they had a 3 story place in Boston. They each had their private level and then they shared one. I think it’s great! Whatever works!

    • Sarah says...

      Ooooh, now THAT’s my personal dream scenario. Genius!

    • june2 says...

      A friend of mine lives with her family like this in Athens – her father and three grown daughters: they all live in her father’s huge 4 story home, each with a floor/suite to themselves. This gives them their own lives as well as allowing them to eat or watch movies together when they want to. Seems ideal to me.

  37. Meghan says...

    This is my family, too! We don’t have neighboring houses though, but we’re a couple with our own children who live as a “two-house family”. We’ve both been married before and this is what works for us. Not gonna lie, it’s perfect. We’re both introverts (actually, we’re almost all introverts except for my youngest) and our kids are all best friends. We spend time together two evenings a week as a family, and then on the weekends the kids go off with their respective other parents and my partner and I have super fun, grownup weekend together. We look forward to seeing each other EVERY SINGLE TIME (after almost 5 years!) and the best part is that we’ve never once had a fight about the laundry or bills or household chores.

  38. Manda says...

    I would like to hear more about the actual house and how it physically works side-by-side..

    • Vero says...

      Me too! Is this just a duplex? So glad it works for them. Super cool <3

    • Carol says...

      Same here. Vero, that’s my question, too.

  39. B says...

    like frida and diego :)

  40. Amanda says...

    Thank you for featuring all types of families on this blog. It’s such a necessary reminder that there isn’t one “right” way to live, but many, many happy ways to co-exist.

  41. L. says...

    My parents, who had been high school sweethearts, always had a tumultuous relationship. It was hard on me growing up sometimes, but I never doubted their love for each other. The split up when I was in high school, and my mom and I moved two blocks away. Now, 20 years later, they’re the best of friends and spend tons of time at each other’s houses. It’s unconventional, but it works.

  42. Sasha L says...

    1. Housing is so expensive where we live, compared to wages (resort town), you’d have to be truly very wealthy to have this kind of arrangement
    2. So much space….. It gives me anxiety just thinking about it. 1000 sq ft, raised two kids, 3 dogs, a cat, hens, but always felt cozy and loving (most of the time anyways).I couldn’t handle two big houses worth of stuff and space
    3. Introvert who likes what I like – but what I like most is being with my husband. We have separate sleeping rooms because he has sleep apnea (which got diagnosed last year thanks to the COJ comments sections), but I can’t imagine not sharing meals and shows and walks and showers and chores and everything else.

    Super fun to read about other people’s lives. Good for her, not for me.

    • Rose says...

      These are two separate families as much as they’re one family, though. You probably wouldn’t think she was very wealthy if this was a house tour of a mom and her kids or a house tour of the dad with his kids. I think the point of the two spaces worth of stuff is that they DON’T have two handle it, because they each have a house with one set of things that they own, no?

    • june2 says...

      I’ve seen duplex’s in all price ranges, and more often on the low end and they are often nearly the same cost as a single home because of perceived “lack of privacy” which in this case becomes a non-issue. It’s definitely not just for the ‘truly very wealthy’. Also I know a woman who bought a large house then split the lower level into separate apartments herself – she is a contractor though – and rented them out to cover the mortgage. She lives upstairs. It’s a genius way to cover the cost of ownership if you can stay inside of building codes – you just have to be creative and do a lot of the work yourself to stay in budget. But doable and a great investment.

  43. Jessica says...

    Isn’t it wild how different we all are? I love that this living situation works so well for this couple! My husband and I have been together for 14 years and lived in separate states for 8 of those years due to our jobs. For us, the worst part of this arrangement by far is not sharing a home because we enjoy living life the same way. The best part for me is all of the air travel – I fly to visit him most weekends, and I love airplanes and airport people-watching!

  44. Kari says...

    What an interesting topic! I’m not interested in separate homes, but sleeping separately would sure be a good solution to us each getting a better sleep! (I snore…) Should we ever find ourselves in a larger home, it would certainly be a treat to have our independent spaces for our work – he an office and me a workshop. That would be so nice to have my own little room!

  45. Emma says...

    My husband and three month old share a room (I hear every little noise, but my husband only hears the important noises and only wakes me when he needs to eat) and I sleep in our bedroom. Before we part ways my husband kneels by the bed while I lay on the bed. We usually pray and then we talk for awhile. It’s my favorite part of the day. Before, since he wasn’t about to leave to sleep in another room, my husband would just hop in bed after we prayed and then that would be it. Something about him kneeling there makes us talk forever about everything and I love it! Sometimes he’ll try to lay down too, but the conversation just isn’t the same! Haha
    It’s this blog that makes me feel good about our arrangement that works for us instead of feeling weird about it! We’re all happier for it!

    • Lizzie says...

      Me too! I even often wake up to the baby first in “my room”.

  46. Daniela says...

    This was a really interesting read. I LOVE sleeping with my fiance (husband in one week!!) because we end up holding each other all night, but I see the appeal in having your own place to decorate or keep clean (or messy).

  47. Susan says...

    Thank you for shedding a light on this! When my husband and I starting using separate bedrooms it seemed like something to keep quiet because it would reflect negatively on our relationship. Now we’re more open and many people are already doing it or wish they were.

    • Em says...

      My boyfriend and I have been doing this for almost two years now and we love it! I used to be embarrassed to tell people because I wasn’t sure how’d they react but now I really don’t care! And so many friend couples say they would love to be able to do the same thing. :)

    • Nathalie says...

      Us too Susan! We’ve been together for 14 years and never apart for more than 10 days, just to say that we love being in each others’ company… except at night! We’ve always slept “not touching” anyway and now with a small child who is not a great sleeper in the mix, we finally decided to sleep in separate bedrooms and OMG it is so much better! Maybe it is temporary, I don’t know. Luckily my husband’s parents have been doing this for years, so at least they understand ;-) We should just all do what works best for us, instead of following random social norms!

    • MYM says...

      There are lots of good reasons for couples to sleep in separate beds or bedrooms. Preference for different room temperature, physical conditions like bad back or sleeplessness, etc. But we also don’t owe anyone explanations. I do sometimes feel like shouting out, “Guys! You’ll sleep SOOO much better if you aren’t sharing your bed with someone!”

  48. Meg says...

    A friend recently told me that she and her partner had been giving a lot of thought to what was working in their relationship and what wasn’t. One of the conclusions of their conversations was: we really love each other, but we don’t really love living together. There’s such a strong societal expectation that living together is an essential step/end goal for long-term relationships that we often don’t even consider other possibilities that may ultimately be better for us (as individuals and as partners/families). Thank you so much for sharing this story!

    • Jen Collins says...

      I totally agree! I find some of the cohabitation stuff MADDENING but overall enjoy it – but you’re reight cohabitation with a romantic partner is a social construct. It also feeds the current idea that your partner should be everything you need, when that’s not been true historically. We all need tribes. Maybe we should live with a tribe and connect when we want with our romantic partner!

  49. Rinette says...

    So cool to see a familiar from Edmonton featured – the city I call home!! And this arrangement sounds wonderful- I am a bit jealous :)
    Thanks for this story!

  50. Ash says...

    This is my dream situation as I am fiercely independent and an empathic-introvert. I need alone time and space to thrive but still crave a bit of companionship.

    I am currently single and on a recent first date I told my counterpart that I was looking for an “Oprah-Stedman situation”, meaning my preferred partner has his own full life of friends, family, hobbies and interests; as do I. We can occasionally join lives but I don’t want to be anyone’s focal point, and vice versa.

    I am so glad you include various types of people, families, bodies, ethnicity, locations, etc. It make me feel ‘seen’ :) Really appreciated!

  51. Maria says...

    One of the beautiful things about relationships that take vows to love eachother forever no matter what is the blending, compromising, changing, and growing together. One physical symbol of that is the shared space. For me, this would feel like a my husband and I would rather have our own space, where we do things our own way, instead of communicating and working on things together. Maybe works for them, but definitely not for me.

    • jen says...

      Same. We live in a small house. We have separate bathrooms, but always, always, sleep together.

  52. Haylie says...

    This is my actual dream, only with fewer kids and more cats. I married my husband when we were both really young, and I’ve never really been able to live alone–I’ve never had a space that was essentially *mine* And my super bitchy older cat would love it.

  53. JB says...

    I have an aunt and uncle that have been together for 30 years but live quite literally 1,000 miles apart. They spend holidays and vacations together (retired now so A LOT of travelling) and it seems to work so well for them. She has her urban condo lifestyle, he’s got a small rural farm. Wouldn’t work for me but they love it!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      wow, that’s so fascinating!

  54. Allison says...

    A couple on my block does this! I was surprised one day when he was sitting on his porch, she walked out the front door of the adjoining duplex, and gave him a kiss. They are also French, so really it all just seems chic. Also on sleeping separately, I’m pregnant and started snoring, my husband finally asked if he could sleep in the guest room after weeks of barely getting any sleep. It’s been wonderful because now we are more intentional about connecting before we go to bed. Instead of just laying in bed scrolling on our phones before turning out the lights, we spend some time cuddling without interruption and inevitably talk about the baby, before he heads downstairs.

  55. I would not mind this at all! I have thought about when I’m married, I still want my own bed. I’m even okay with two beds next to each other.

    • ANDREA says...

      Jojo–move to Europe where so many “double” beds are just two singles pushed up against the other, often with their own comforters! I was in heaven with my own comforter on a trip this summer, when my husband pointed out that I had stolen his comforter in the night. I still fail to see what is wrong in that scenario…

    • Kate says...

      We have our own twin XL beds in a king frame, so we each got to choose our own mattress, which is so amazing. I have my own sheets and blankets tucked in just so and my husband can do whatever it is he does with his sheets – I swear his blankets end up in impossible locations and I have no idea what he’s doing in his sleep. Our relationship (especially on my end) is SO much better now that there’s an unarguable delineation between his side and my side!

  56. Laura says...

    We recently moved to an area with much less expensive housing but our same incomes so we got a lot of house for just the two of us. We now have a shared floor, and then he has the downstairs and I have the upstairs and it’s wonderful! Over the past ten years we’ve lived in a lot of small places, like a sailboat and a one room cabin, so now having the separate space is a joy. I keep my upstairs tidy and always smelling good and it’s my zen spot!

    • agnes says...

      what a dream. I can’t wait to create that. One day!

    • Becki says...

      This is basically what my parents did when the kids moved out 20 year ago. My mom snores and my dad is a hot sleeper so they have fully separate rooms. Mom upstairs and dad in the basement. They do everything else together so they love getting a bit of alone time/separate night routine. It works for them. Happily married for 50 years!

  57. AN says...

    This is so genius, most especially for the part where they considered what’s best for them without conforming to “the system”. Up with independent thinking!

    • Meg says...

      This is my someday dream with my partner! (But with one big apt since I live in the $$$ SF Bay Area)

  58. P says...

    I NEED this in my life. I love my husband but I want to murder him is when we sleep ;( He’s messy, he takes all the covers, he snores, he is a night light nazi, the list goes on! I do not need a separate house, just a separate bedroom (I’m getting us separate covers for the winter) – but I know he would be opposed to separate bedrooms.

    • Kirsten says...

      Haha, I’ve worked on mine over time and he’s totally on board now! I love my husband dearly, but we are a nightmare sleep match. He snores (in an unpredictable rhythm, in a way that is guaranteed to keep me awake) and sleeps like a rock. And farts a lot in his sleep. I am a super light sleeper (an issue that has only gotten worse as we’ve had kids), have a really hard time going back to sleep once I’m awake. A couple years ago we got separate duvets, which was awesome. But now that I’m pregnant I’m sleeping really badly and put my foot down about moving into the guest room. I started to resent him being asleep while I wasn’t so much it was making me nuts. AND IT’S AMAZING. And after two years of parenting he is finally on board with whatever gets all of us the most sleep possible. I’m not sure we’re gonna switch back :)

    • Erin says...

      Put your foot down about having a sleeping space of your own. Why is your sleep less important than his?

  59. Ana says...

    Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera famously lived in two separate houses joined by a walkway, and this has always seemed like the perfect living arrangement for romantic partners to me, as a person who likes having a lot of alone time!

  60. Denise says...

    I love this and aspire to a similar arrangement. Thanks for featuring this kind of living arrangement!

  61. Katie says...

    I absolutely love this and I absolutely love that Cup of Jo showcases differences in families / living / occupations / etc. Thank you!

    While the husband and I do live together, I relish the time he’s away for work, or with friends on trips, or every Sunday morning. I need that alone time.

  62. My husband and I are currently planning a “grown up getaway studio” in our backyard. He plans to go there to play music uninterrupted from our two fabulously lovely children (and dogs) and I want to go just to read and relax. When you get into a family it’s easy to lose your independent time, usually without realizing it! We both want to get a little bit of that back, but without having to leave the house!

    • Grace says...

      Great idea!

    • Zlk says...

      I love that this is an alternative space to the “man cave” haha it’s another shared but private space!

  63. Just like Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.
    Having separate space is healthy. Period.

    • Ling says...

      That’s the couple + houses I thought of when I saw the headline for this piece :)

    • Haylie says...

      OMG, I think about this article All. The. Time.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes!!! i loved that story and house so much!

  64. Charlotte K says...

    I guess the only thing I wonder is do they have adjoining interior doors or do they have to go outside to enter (and if the article says this, apologies for my internet-reading attention-span or lack thereof). I’ve been to Edmonton and it gets might cold and snowy up there in the winter!

    • Meredith says...

      Lol meanwhile I’m over here planning to purchase furniture for my home office so my husband can spend MORE time in my space instead of me always hanging out in his space! (He has an extra chair in his office and I don’t yet). Our separate offices at home are our much needed “apart” in our together house ❤️

    • Meredith says...

      That wasn’t supposed to be a threaded reply! iPhone challenged 🤦🏻‍♀️

  65. Briana says...

    Thanks for this! My husband and I have very different sleeping habits so we sleep in separate rooms. It’s been very confusing for our friends and family who always want to know what it MEANS. It means that we wake up well rested, in better moods with more appreciation for each other’s quirks. His room is a tornado of clothes, fishing tackle and and art supplies. Mine is a tidy, peaceful place that smells like old books. We each have our havens and it works well for us.

  66. What a beautiful family! It obviously works for them — they all look so happy ;)

  67. Kate says...

    I love this!! I know a couple who have this arrangement – two identical houses connected in between with a dining area. I think two people can be very much in love and have a great relationship even if they don’t have similar neatness levels or if they have habits that irritate the other person! My husband and I each have our own room/office which can be such a lifesaver. Kudos to people doing what works best for them and not conforming to what others think is “right”!

  68. Gray says...

    So interesting to see! Also cool to see Edmonton featured! I live in Calgary about 3 hours south. Thumbs up for the Canadian representation.

    • Sasha L says...

      Hi neighbors to the north, from sunny Montana to the south!!!

    • TeeDee says...

      Hello fellow Calgarian!!

    • Emilie says...

      I’m in Calgary too! :)

    • Candace says...

      Yes! Loyal Calgarian reader here too!

      Thrilled to see Canada on the blog!

    • Anna says...

      Hi, fellow Calgarians!!

    • Katt says...

      Another Calgarian (former Edmontonian) here!

    • EKB says...

      Who’d have known so many Calgarians are reading CoJ? I love this space and have been reading it for years. I also had a leap of joy seeing Edmonton featured. And this concept…brilliant!!

  69. Megn says...

    This is THE DREAM.

    • J says...

      LOL agreed Megn.

  70. KK says...

    My boss and her husband have been married for 20 years and they’ve always maintained separate houses (which they both already owned when they got married at around age 40). They don’t have children so that makes things simpler. They spend most nights together at one or the other of their houses – one is more in the city, easy to walk places, the other is out in the desert, more rural and quiet. So it’s nice they have options depending on what they’re doing. It totally works for them!

  71. Pie says...

    My husband and I have lived together for almost 10 years but now I have an additional partner and we are trying to figure out long term living situations and i keep pushing for a tri-plex so we can each have our own house!!

  72. Kristin says...

    Wow, totally fascinating! I assume that to get to one house from the other you have to go outside?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, but they’re hoping to add a connection through the garage so they don’t have to trudge outside in the winter!

  73. Jane says...

    Wait, so the solution is they bought both halves of a semi-detached house? Or is there any shared space.

    • Catherine says...

      Right, it looks like they each live in one side of a duplex.

      We moved recently to a new neighborhood and our good friends followed a few months later. I jokingly asked where we’ll move next once all of our kids are grown, and they suggested we get two sides of a duplex or townhouse. :) It seems like it could work in all kinds of family situations.

  74. British Columbia, Canada says...

    I’ve totally thought about this before. I’m in a happy nuclear family right now, but if my spouse were to die and I wanted to start a new relationship…this is the route I’d probably take!

  75. Johanna says...

    This is my dream.

  76. Wow! This is fascinating! I don’t think I could ever live this way, though. I love the constant physical proximity to my husband that living together creates.

    • One House Gets My Vote says...

      I was wondering if anyone else felt this way! Seems by the comments that everyone secretly or not-so-secretly wishes they could live together apart, but I’m with you. By the time the work day is done, there’s nothing I look forward to more than being home with my husband, preferably snuggling so hard we become a big lump of love on the couch. He’s leaving tomorrow for a four-day vacation with the guys, without me, which is all kinds of great and I absolutely encourage it, but already miss him. And no, we aren’t newlyweds. I’ve felt this way for ten years now and I hope that never changes.

    • Andrea says...

      I agree! My husband and I have been together for nearly 15 years. The first ten years we weren’t married and lived in separate homes. But then after we got married, we moved in together. I’m an introvert who loves my own space but I love sharing a home with my husband (and all the ups and downs that involves) even more. Our busy work and social lives keep us separate enough as it is!

    • Lisa Z says...

      I’m with all of you. Married 24 years to a high school teacher, and 10+ months out of the year he’s working all hours of the day and night. We need our shared space and time together! That said, I can imagine we’ll need some separate spaces (though not houses) when he retires if he’s ever home full time.

      Still, I love that this couple has found what works for them. I think we can all benefit from the various ways people make relationships work!

    • Alexandra says...

      I feel the same way, I love living with my partner! We’re in a 1 bedroom apartment and although it can feel like close quarters at times, I love the physical proximity and going to sleep/waking up together every day. I respect that this situation seems to work really well for this couple and think it’s so cool how people make things work in different ways.

    • Emily says...

      Ditto!
      I’ve been married 28 years. My husband is my favorite person to be around and we laugh a lot. We sometimes go to bed at different times, but when we do crawl in bed together we still fall asleep holding hands. We would not last very long living apart, even if we were next door to each other!

    • One House Gets My Vote says...

      Emily – it makes me so happy to hear you’re still falling asleep holding hands after 28 years! We hold hands in bed; it’s not something we’ve ever even acknowledged but I’m always aware of how special it seems. It’s tough not to listen to my friends who aren’t in such happy marriages say “that won’t last”–but what do they know? Without intending to, bedtime has also become gratitude time. After about a year of marriage I realized my husband was always thanking me for the everyday things–cooking, setting up his dentist appointment, doing the laundry, making him laugh–right before falling asleep. So I started to do the same. Whatever else is going on, whatever problems we have, if we’re in bed together, that’s at least something to be grateful for. “I’m so happy to be in bed with you” is one of the sweetest things you can hear after a long, exhausting day, at least to me. We always also thank each other for sex, now that I think about it. Our bed is chockablock with gratitude :)

    • ML says...

      Lol!

  77. Sue says...

    I love this, and good for them for figuring out what works best for them, as a family and as individuals. My partner and I have been together for many years, but he only moved in with me a year ago, and not even entirely in with me. I have a guest cottage as well as a house, and he moved into the cottage. When people ask, I say that I live in the house with my cats, his cats live in the cottage, and he goes back and forth. Particularly important to me is that his stuff is in the cottage, not in the house. When people suggest that he just move into the house, I shudder. I love him dearly, but the space is what makes things work. I can send him up the hill when I need to! I sometimes say that we don’t want to stress out 4 senior cats by combining them, and that’s true, but it’s also true that I don’t want to stress myself out either!

    • Karen says...

      This is my dream! Kudos to you, it sounds lovely.

  78. Sarah says...

    I love hearing about these stories, too! My husband moved across the country for grad school last year. I was terrified at first – I relied on him a lot for both practical things, as well as a little too much emotional support. Being mostly on my own has been such a confidence booster and has allowed me the space to develop hobbies and friendships I would not have invested in. I realized that I’m a lot stronger than I ever thought and have gained a huge appreciation for all the ways he took care of me that I didn’t notice.

    • Grace says...

      Good for you! How often to you see your husband now? How much longer is his grad program?

  79. Alice says...

    I’d love to see the floor plans!

  80. Lili says...

    It is good to read about different arrangements people have. For me especially since I’m divorced.

  81. I love this! When Whoopi Goldberg was asked her thoughts on marriage she said, “I don’t want somebody in my house.”

    AMEN.

    • agnes says...

      ah ah ah!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahaha