How time apart cements long-term relationships

Friday, December 6th, 2019 00:00 |
It feels nice being with your partner. However, here’s why spending all your time with your significant other could be killing your marriage.

The whole essence of any romantic relationship, whether dating or even married is to be together, right? Lovers want to spend time together, which is okay.

Perhaps you are even planning on taking a holiday together during this festive season, which is also okay. 

However experts argue spending too much time together may lead to partners taking each other for granted and can create tension. It can also put a lot of pressure on your relationship and make one lose their independence.

Different context

Joan Wachira knows this too well. She and her husband operate a salon and a barbershop business in Nairobi. While she deals with salon clients, he attends to those who require barber services.

So, they would leave for work together, spend the day together and most of the time go back home together.

Over the weekend, they would take evenings out on Saturdays for date nights and attend church together on Sundays.

“In as much as I love my husband, it is suffocating being with him 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I felt like I wasn’t myself anymore,” Joan says.

This affected their marriage, They had little to talk about. “After all, he couldn’t ask how my day was, because he was part of it,” she laughs. She felt she had to do something about this.

“I came up with an idea of opening another branch and one of us to move to the new one. Also we agreed to give each other time to go out with friends once in a while. And it worked. Now we are a happy family,” she says.

What does time apart in a relationship mean? “Time apart does not mean you should try to have a long distance relationship or not talk for days.

However, it is different for each couple,” says relationship coach Mary Mwaniki. For some, that may mean having a girls’ or guys’ night out once a week.

It might mean deliberately creating some “Me Time”. For others, it could be going on a trip with your friends.

So why have time apart when in a relationship? Well, time apart can reignite that excitement of wanting to be together and prevents a rut from forming.

“Missing each other even just for one day can offer a lot to your relationship. You may get so used to being around your partner that you start taking them for granted,” Mwaniki says.

Long-term relationships can cause each partner to lose a bit of their identity.

You become so dependent on your partner and your relationship that you forget who you are on your own.

However, before you were someone’s husband, wife, mum, dad, or partner, you were just you. Vikki Ziegler, a renowned author, calls it a chance to “nourish your soul.”

Dating coach Corrine Dobbas calls it a time to “rejuvenate and foster your sense of self.” Whatever you call it, it is vital to stay in touch with what makes you uniquely you — the person your partner fell in love with in the first place.

“If you lose yourself in your relationship and it ends, you fall apart. You need a part of yourself to exist outside of the relationship. Time apart maintains that independence,” Mwaniki explains.

Little things

Your partner maybe the whole world to you, but you are not an island. Time apart helps one to focus on your friendships.

Having your friends to rely on and vent to or just relax with is vital for a healthy relationship. Depending on your partner to fulfil your life puts pressure on them and the relationship. 

When you spend time with someone nonstop, little things that aren’t important weigh on you. You may hate that they drink from the bottle or squeeze the toothpaste from the middle.

With time apart, you realise that the good things outweigh these small flaws. It also lets you recharge.

Simply spending a few evenings a month on your own or with your friends can give your relationship that breather it needs.

“If you over-water a plant, it dies. If you smother your pet, it squirms away. Sometimes the best thing you can do to nurture your relationship is to give one another space,” she says.

How much personal time is optimal varies from couple to couple. What is most important is that spouses agree how much time they want together and apart.

If each partner has different perspectives, however, the amount of time together and apart can be a source of conflict.

For some partners, too much together time can be suffocating, while for others too little can make them feel insecure and isolated.

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