Today I am on day five of a twenty-day stretch of Jeff being away at a business training and during that time I am digging deep into several aspects of personal growth, including the importance this time apart is for a couple. Time apart is time to build a stronger and more deeply connected marital relationship. If you enjoy time apart from your partner and you’ve been feeling guilty about it then today I am going to help you let go of that guilt because healthy time apart is good for your marriage.
If you have been questioning how good of a partner you are because you crave time apart, even if your partner doesn’t, then listen on. If you don’t like taking time away from your partner I will talk about that as well because that could be an area you might want to dig into. It would be interesting for you to uncover what it is that is keeping you from expanding outside of your comfort zone and questioning possibly your trust in the partnership you have committed to.
Today we’re going to look at why time apart is a necessary and healthy part of creating an exciting and highly desirable relationship, how to start incorporating it into your marriage if it isn’t something you currently practice, and how to not use your time apart as a weapon.
Three primary reasons why healthy time apart is necessary and a habit that will create an exciting and highly desirable marital relationship
Time apart from the one that you are in a primary relationship with helps you explore your own individual interests and do the work of developing a sense of self. In our relationships, we are often so focused on the needs and wants of our partners that we forget ourselves. It’s even quite likely that we’ve made that a consistent dynamic, avoiding ourselves and what we most need by investing that time in others in an effort to find our value. Time to ourselves allows us to connect and get to know ourselves which is a crucial part of a healthy relationship. If our identity is in our partner and our relationship then when there is tension in the relationship we feel lost and become either desperate to fix it or avoidant by pushing them away.
This alone time gives you space to better know, accept and strengthen your relationship with yourself. The better you know, accept, and strengthen your relationship with yourself the better you can connect with your partner in a deeply intimate way. This is actually the basis of my coaching program, you can not build a strong healthy marital relationship when your relationship with yourself is weak, when you don’t know and accept who you are. In my program, we alternate between self-growth, self-discovery, self-strengthening work, while building the marital relationship with connection and intimacy.
Taking time alone allows you to recharge which takes the pressure off the marriage, reducing stress and constant reliance on each other. When each partner takes time to revitalize themselves it brings renewed excitement into the relationship, new conversations. Marital relationships demand time and energy, they can be distracting and create anxiety. If you’re here, you are doing the work of creating a different relationship than what you currently are experiencing, and this work can build stress. Time apart allows you to let go of that demand on your time, to clear out your brain and sort things out, sort of like the cleaning of the junk drawer but with relationships, and I highly advise you to do the sorting before the drawer gets too messy. Hence the need for a regularly scheduled respite away from the relationship.
Taking time apart from your partner creates a healthy disruption in your relationship routine, opening each of you up to more interesting conversations. Creating varied life experiences that light you up will bring your own type of passion and flame into your life and your time together. Without this flare, you are only focusing on the day-to-day routines which can get stale and boring which then translates into a stale and boring relationship dynamic.
Spending so much time in macro view keeps us focused on the same perspectives and not just the day-to-day but also all of the things that have happened in the past and what you want out of your future. Alone time allows us to zoom out for a bit and see other viewpoints, allowing you to contemplate different options when you come back together, helping the relationship to grow, increasing desire to keep working towards that future goal together. It’s like the fertilizer you add to the garden to help it produce a more abundant crop.
Zooming out through alone time allows you to do some introspection, creating space for solving relationship difficulties, bumps in the road. When you don’t create and see the need for this space that is when emotional buildup occurs, typically manifesting itself in unhealthy, destructive ways.
Time apart helps create self-sufficiency, it sparks independence instead of dependence, while growing independence allows us to come together and be interdependent versus a one-sided, unequal relationship. A partner that has a sense of self, taking initiative to create relationship equality brings a freshness to the marital dynamic which increases attraction.
Finding appreciation for your partner and your commitment to the relationship
Think about the time you get to spend with a family member you love but don’t get to see that often, because of our limited time with that person we want to optimize it and find ways to connect in the time you have together. Same with your partner, if you have unlimited time together, no limits to your time, you start taking that time for granted and don’t utilize it to its potential. Having designated time together helps you to plan and appreciate it which optimizes the quality of your time together. It makes you more aware of the time you have together.
Appreciation comes when we take time away to see all of the things they do for us and the value that they bring to the relationship.
Not enjoying time apart
The first question to dig into here is why. Why don’t you enjoy your partner taking time alone for themselves or why don’t you like taking time alone for yourself? I would highly suggest you take 15 minutes to reflect and write your thoughts to the question. What are your fears? What emotion is coming up for you when you think about your partner taking time away or you taking time away from your partner, here is where your work is. What is it that is keeping your from wanting to pull apart for a bit as a way to enhance the relationship you have?
Looking at your motives for time away is introspective and allows you to know yourself better. Time alone is healthy while avoidance may mean it is actually something to consider. Always remembering to never use time away as a weapon or threat. For example, if it is that you are feeling stressed in your relationship, making sure that you are not blaming your partner for that stress, bring it back to the positive reasons for time away while allowing your partner to have their own thoughts about that time.
Know your reasons for taking time away and express them during a time set aside for discussion. Let’s take a look at how.
My suggestions for coming together to discuss time alone with your partner, from a place of love, not hate
Starting a practice of healthy time apart requires intentional collaboration and negotiation and if you haven’t been practicing time alone you may want to start small, see how it goes, and move forward from there. Here are some ideas for how to come together and build this practice into your relationship:
- One, share this episode with them!
- Talk about each others needs, they may be different for each of you, coming together and being honest is critical, again making sure not to blame the other.
- Come up with a schedule for alone time, this may include longer periods of time, maybe quarterly, as well as time throughout the week and on the weekend.
- Make sure that you are also scheduling intentional time together so you can come together and share yourselves, making sure you are optimizing that time you have for each other.
- This requires creating balance between your desires along with compromise and negotiation so you can come to terms that work for both of you.
- When you come together have a set goal for the conversation, remember that you are allies not enemies (see last week’s episode From Enemy To Ally), remembering these actions are for self and marital growth, not revenge.
- Talk about what this alone time will look like for each of you while creating boundaries if one partner is insecure around what you want this designated time to look like.
It’s possible after sorting through all of the reasons I have listed above, that your mindset around time apart may have shifted, I hope that is true for you. In a trusting and loving relationship, we allow each other space to grow. Think about a garden where the plants are too close together, it stifles the growth of each plant but when spaced apart each grows to its potential. I love this quote from poet Kahlil Gibran (jubran):
“And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.”
If you are someone who craves time to yourself then I give you permission to let go of any guilt or shame you may have around this desire. Wanting time to yourself does not make you a bad partner in the relationship, it makes you a responsible partner.
To wrap up I want to emphasize the importance of time together as well as time alone. I’m curious to hear how you and your partner have worked on creating space for each other and how it has impacted your relationship. I decided to document my twenty days in my Instagram stories and five days in I have already opened up to a deeper understanding of some of the things I am working on in my relationships, my life and my business, come join me and share in the conversation!
I am a life coach who works with individuals to break down relationship barriers by awakening their true selves. My process isn’t about changing your partner, it’s about discovering who you are so that you can AwakenYou in your marriage. If you’re ready to take your life and your love relationship to the next level then schedule your program inquiry call today and let’s decide together if this is your next step to creating the life you’ve been dreaming of.