Here in the city that never sleeps (and when we do it is often in a small apartment), your marriage may feel a little cramped and in need of some breathing room. While you may love to spend time with your spouse, spending every waking minute together can be stifling.
Marriage is the union of two individuals who plan to spend the rest of their lives together, helping and supporting each other, and in many cases, raising a family. But this does not mean that you lose your individuality when you marry. In fact, to do so could doom your marriage. You cannot expect your spouse to fulfill your every wish and need, because no one human being can do that. Therefore, you each need to maintain your own “space.”
What do I mean by space? It depends on the individual and on the couple, but it generally means having time alone or time spent with other people in a shared interest. It may also include a personal space in the home.
It’s very important for a couple to have shared interests outside of raising their kids. When they don’t, there’s often a shock when the kids grow up and move out. While many couples see this as an opportunity to discover new interests together, some can’t handle the vacuum and the marriage becomes unhappy or dissolves. You can avoid this by maintaining some shared interests or at least having a regular “date night” while the kids are growing, to keep that sense of togetherness.
But most of us also need time apart to pursue things that matter to us. And that’s good, for many reasons. When you have quiet time alone, such as taking a walk or a bike ride, you have time to reflect on things that matter to you, including your relationship. I am a strong advocate of couples thinking about what they love or admire about their partners and telling them regularly. That time apart can increase your appreciation for your spouse when you’re together.
Spending Time With Friends
When you spend time with friends who have shared interests, for instance, going out with the “golfing buddies” or going to art museums with other art lovers, you are continuing to build your own friendships, which can strengthen your marriage. Be careful to avoid any “spouse-bashing” during these times. Sometimes when husbands or wives get together, they swap stories about what their spouse is doing so they can laugh or complain together. Don’t fall into that trap. As I said above, focus on the positive.
I want to clarify that if you are having marriage problems, you should speak to a trusted friend or a marriage counselor. Marriage problems should definitely not be shared with a group of people during a gripe session.
With that caveat in mind, spending time with positive-minded friends can strengthen your marriage because it builds your social skills and helps you appreciate your spouse more. It also gives you new experiences to share.
Having your own time also avoids boredom. If you’re always around the house doing the same old family chores all the time, you can get bored or find your appreciation of your spouse lessened. Going out to do something fun on your own makes coming home a little bit like returning from an adventure with a story to tell.
Finally, sometimes it’s just nice to have a quiet corner of the house to call your own. It can be as messy or as neat as you want. It can be decorated the way you like. It can be your book nook or your workbench. But that personal space also helps nurture what’s unique in you, which can also make your union stronger.
Ask For Help
So talk together about how you can spend time together while also spending time apart, in order to strengthen your bond and grow in love. If you need help with this, or if your marriage has some rocky areas that need some help from a counselor, feel free to reach out to me. I’ve helped many couples strengthen their relationships and renew their marriages.