Single people often fantasize about how great life would be if only they could find that right person. They envision cozy evenings curled up together in front of a blazing fire. They may have images of sharing a romantic meal over candlelight, or strolling hand in hand down a white sand beach. These are magical images, to be sure. But what they don’t imagine is the end-of-the-day frazzle, the bills, the chores, the kids, the pets, and the deep desire that many spouses have to just spend time ALONE! In a recent article, University of Michigan psychology professor Dr. Terri Orbuch explains how having “me time” can help strengthen the “we time” in a relationship.
According to her study, which has followed more than 370 couples for over 25 years, 11.5% of partners cite lack of privacy, or “me time,” as causing unhappiness. This is nearly double the 6% who say their sex lives are the cause of the marital dissatisfaction. Orbuch believes that time alone is critical to successful relationships. This time allows a person to pursue activities that they enjoy without worrying about their partner’s reaction. It is also essential for people to have time to think through issues, process emotions, and just relax without being obligated to someone else. Being secure with taking alone time, or allowing your partner to do so, could have something to do with your attachment style. If you have a secure attachment style, you may be very comfortable taking and granting alone time. But for some people, the idea of being alone, or allowing their partner to pursue friendships or hobbies without them, is threatening and fear-inducing.
Orbuch also points out that women crave alone time more than men. “Even if women have jobs outside the home, they are typically more likely to be caring for children, parents, friends, and others in the family,” Orbuch said. These demands limit a woman’s time to herself and often cause her to want, or even need, time to herself. Orbuch encourages this type of separation. Learning a new hobby or honing a special skill can be empowering and build self-esteem. These new skills can be brought into the relationship and shared, which will strengthen and broaden the relationship. Orbuch cautions that alone time should not be used as an escape, but rather a way to expand interests. She also stresses that alone time should be enjoyed. If you are spending an afternoon at the beach with a good book feeling guilty about the dishes in the sink and the dinner you didn’t make, it kind of kills the mood. Also, it is essential that you be honest with your partner. Let him or her know where you went and what you did. Being independent does not mean you have to be deceptive. Having a little time to yourself can make you more available to your partner in the short run and diversify and deepen your relationship in the long run.
Smith, Sandy. Forget sex, the secret to a long-lasting relationship is space. Brisbane Times (n.d.): n. pag. 6 Nov. 2012. Web. 8 Nov. 2012. http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/lifestyle/life/forget-sex-the-secret-to-a-longlasting-relationship-is-space-20121105-28tle.html
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