- Marriage takes time, effort, and dedication, and around half of marriages end in divorce.
- Here, author Jennifer Still shares four ways that spending time apart from her partner has helped keep her marriage strong.
With divorce rates hovering around 40 to 50%, it feels a bit obvious to say that marriage is hard. Maintaining a long-term relationship takes time, effort, and dedication, and even then many couples still can’t make it work.
When I married my partner four years ago after being together for the six years, I knew we had a huge challenge ahead of us. Thankfully, it’s one we’ve managed to master thus far, and a large part of our success lies in one particular thing we make time for: spending time apart.
It’s worth mentioning that my partner and I were long-distance for much of our relationship, which meant that time apart wasn’t just a preference, it was an unfortunate circumstance that was often painful and stressful. However, that mandatory time not being in one another’s physical presence made taking time to do our own things once we were actually living together in the same place a pretty natural move.
Here’s why it works for us.
We can keep our own identities outside of the relationship
There’s nothing worse than couples who slowly meld into one person because they’re together 24/7 and have no separate hobbies, passions, or friends. Making sure to spend time apart allows us to do our own things, especially stuff the other person wouldn’t be into. For my partner, that includes watching reality TV, listening to musical artists that I’m not into, and visiting with her friends.
For me, it’s a lot of hanging out in local coffee shops, reading novels, and window shopping. By indulging our own interests, we remain two unique people with our own thoughts, opinions, and feelings rather than a homogeneous pair with a singular identity.
We have more to talk about when we’re together
Whether it’s sharing something weird we saw on TV, talking about a book we’re reading, or relaying something weird that happened while we were out to lunch with one of our friends, hanging out without each other gives us so much more to talk about when we’re actually together.
After all, if you’re attached at the hip 24/7, you already know what’s happening and you quickly run out of conversational topics. Thankfully, this hasn’t happened for us.
We get the opportunity to miss each other
My job as a writer and editor – not to mention my status as an immigrant to the UK – sometimes requires me to travel without my partner back to the US or even to other cities around England.
While it’s great when we can travel together (and we do a lot of that too), spending a couple of days apart makes us realize how much we love and care about one another and still enjoy being together. Those little reminders mean the world in keeping our relationship fresh and healthy, and that can only be a good thing.
The time we spend together is of higher quality
While we definitely do more relaxed things like eating pizza on the couch while bingeing Netflix, having the opportunity to spend time apart means that when we do have quality time together, we’re able to make the most of it.
When we’ve had busy weeks that have kept us from being together a lot, we’re way more likely to make an effort to arrange something like a fancy dinner out or a trip to a local museum when our schedules are a little less hectic. Sure, we don’t have to be doing anything special to enjoy one another’s company, but we find that doing these activities makes our bond even stronger.
Obviously there’s a balance that needs to be struck here. While spending time away from your partner is something I believe is vital to every relationship, I’d be worried if I found myself wanting to be doing my own thing more than I wanted to be with her. Thankfully, that’s not the case, and our love of independence has served to bring us closer rather than pulling us apart.
While there are many things that contribute to a successful relationship – love, respect, understanding, and communication, to name a few – I truly believe that maintaining our unique identities and ensuring that we’re fulfilled as people as well as part of a couple helps keep our relationship strong and thriving.