Living in Limbo: The Non-Divorce

Debbie Mandel

Breaking up a marriage is frightening, expensive and unsettling. That's why some couples choose to stay together even though there is no romance. This type of marriage can best be described as the non-divorce.

If you are living in a non-divorce, you live together like roommates instead of spouses. You meet and greet and do your own thing. There are no costly legal fees, no bitter divorce turmoil in your life which absorbs your time; the children are in tact as a family and you maintain your status in the community. In other words, no messy divorce, you just coast. Doesn’t sound so bad, or does it?

However, a non-divorce might come with hidden costs and rob you of health and happiness. Your passionate life turns to stone; you wear a mask, and you are not reaping the health benefits of a good marriage which boosts your immune system and improves your cardiovascular system. You often feel stuck and stressed because you settle for so much less.

The NBC Today Show interviewed me about living in a non-divorce – why couples do it, what are the benefits and pitfalls. In addition, NBC’s Today Show and I co-produced a special segment of my weekly stress-management radio show called, “Are you living in a non-divorce?” In this show callers-in from around the country reveal their secret lives concerning living in marriage limbo – do I stay or do I go? I provide these candid callers-in with some “homework” strategies.

In this radio show segment callers in ranged from:

  • A wife and mother overwhelmed with busyness, just going through the daily motions of living in the same house with her husband
  • A husband who slept in a separate bedroom for years telling the kids it was because he snored
  • A woman paralyzed with fear about leaving because she doesn’t know how to support herself.

Listen to this special show.


Related links: 

 Unhappily ever after

Chained to the house

The Mortgage Meltdown --  a must-see for those thinking a house is the same as a home for a child


I used to pray my parents

I used to pray my parents would divorce.  They were always so miserable together, and that always fell on me.  I had a friend in the 6th grade who's parents got divorced, and I thought it was the greatest thing in the world that she got to live with the parent she liked most, in this brand new apartment that was huge!  I'm sure looking back, she was miserable because no kid really wants to lose both parents, but for me, parents got replaced all the time.  What's the big deal?  You get over it.

Pound Pup Legacy