Attached at the hip?
You got married, united with your mate, and pledged to be together through thick and thin, for the long haul. Does that mean you have to spend every available moment outside of work with your spouse? Does that mean you no longer have your own identity? Does that mean you vowed to become Mrs. Husband-adorer and in doing so you gave up being Ms. Independent or Ms. Book-lover or Ms. I-have-my-own-hobbies? Absolutely not.
A healthier way to think about it is, "I got married, united with my mate, pledged to be together through thick and thin, for the long haul; however, I am still an individual with hobbies of my own who needs alone time every now and then.” Voila!
Reread the second paragraph and really consider the point of the message. Everybody needs some alone time now and then; some time to do whatever it is you choose to do. This can mean reading a book, listening to music, spending time in your man cave, going for a walk, sleeping in, or anything else that gives you time alone to take a break, relax, or do something enjoyable.
Time alone means being better together
Did you know that one of the secrets to a successful long-term relationship is that both individuals take time for themselves? There is no need to feel guilty about needing alone time or requesting alone time, either. It’s amazing how rejuvenating a little time to yourself can be, and in the end allows you to devote more attention to the ones you love.
Be supportive of the ones you love when they say, "I need some space." Space can mean many different things to different people. Some of the more common interpretations of "space" are quiet space, away space, creative space, and fun space. Really "space" in this sense means "alone" and/or "private". The best gift you can give your spouse or partner is the gift of not trying to change who your partner is by trying to adapt them to your perfect image of a partner. Recognize they are who they are, including their need for "space".
Many people in relationships suffer from exhaustion due to being constantly on the go, doing things for others and being pressured for time. Realizing that each individual needs alone time helps couples avoid being exhausted. If you need some alone time, but have no idea how to approach the subject with your spouse or partner, I suggest talking to your partner gently yet directly. Indicate what you need and be specific. Let your spouse know that your feelings for them haven't changed and that you do not feel your marriage is in trouble.
Make “Me” time truly YOURS
When you have alone time, it is not the time to scrub the kitchen floor or do three loads of laundry. Alone time is for YOU. If you’re unaccustomed to having time to yourself to do whatever you choose, here are a few suggestions since it will probably feel really foreign to you at first. Use your time to start that book you’ve been dying to read - or a magazine, meditate, self-analyze, think about things going on in your life, gauge your reactions to things that happened recently in your life, and reorganize and regenerate your thoughts and feelings. Or if you’re looking to just check out and relax … take a walk, get a pedicure, take a nap … the possibilities are endless!
If you are the person being asked for space, do not take it personally. Everybody needs a little time for themselves. If your partner asks for physical space, such as an area in a room or a desk, do your best to make it happen. If your partner indicates they need some time away, such as to go shopping or fishing for a weekend, schedule the costs of such trips into your budget. Is the shoe on the other foot?
Don't wait until you feel trapped in your marriage to ask for space. Speak up! And don't judge your marriage by the way other couples, such as your parents, your best friends, or your brothers or sisters live their lives. The best thing for your marriage is whatever is best for you and your partner, so long as you are both agreeable. Begin by giving each other some time off each month, m
aybe for a morning or an afternoon, where each person is "off the hook" and is not responsible for chores in the house, looking after the kids, running errands, or answering the telephone. Write it on your calendar. Work towards full days off for each of you as it becomes more comfortable.
Most people know, or have been told, that they should have alone time. Alone time is therapeutic; however, if you wait to ask for some space until you get sick or completely exhausted, your marriage may suffer. Taking care of yourself (sometimes referred to as self-care) is necessary to your health and sanity, as well as to your relationships. Nobody wins if the individuals of a couple don't take care of themselves and fulfill their needs for alone time. And who knows? Once you and your partner are used to getting and giving alone time, your marriage may convert into the passionate relationship you have always wanted.
If you struggle with feeling overwhelmed and exhausted due to never having any time for yourself, you may want to speak with a professional. The counselors at Orange County Relationship Center are trained professionals who can help you and your partner understand the wonderful benefits of alone time and help you learn to communicate the need. Call us today at 949-220-3211 to schedule your appointment or use our online tool to schedule your appointment. With help from our counselors, you will both see that giving alone time and receiving alone time are among the best gifts you can give to each other.