Taking Some ‘Me Time’ Makes ‘We Time’ That Much Better

Woman sitting on bench near beach

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.

Reference:
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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  • Brett

    Brett

    November 14th, 2012 at 3:56 PM

    Amen! But making the girlfriend see this is next to impossible. She thinks that when I want time alone it means that I want to create space between us. It’s just that I need a little but of alone time to recharge and refocus and she does not understand that concept at all.

  • fred h

    fred h

    November 15th, 2012 at 3:47 AM

    My wife would drive all of us crazy if we didn’t give her a little time alone. I try to get the kids to come home and get their homework and housekeeping kind of stuff done so that when she gets home she really doesn’t have to worry too much about that kind of stuff.. She has to have that workout at the end of the day or you can just sense the stress building and building in her. After that she’s fine. Me, I could come home and spend the rest of the night with her and the kids, but I know her well enough to have realized pretty early on that she needs just that little bit of extra decompression time to be her most effective and loving. That’s just the way it is.

  • Eugenie

    Eugenie

    November 15th, 2012 at 7:43 AM

    The best, most effective alone time for me is being home by myself. Going out to participate in a hobby can be fun, but because I am an introvert, it is also somewhat stressful. To really unwind, I need to be by myself without interruption for at least an hour, usually watching TV. With a full time job, two kids, and a husband, guess what almost never happens? But, when it does, my batteries are recharged and I”m ready to hit the ground running once again. Fortunately, I have a supportive husband who gets it and isn’t offended by it.

  • Sam

    Sam

    November 15th, 2012 at 7:45 AM

    I have never understood alone time personally. When I am alone it just drives me crazy. It’s too quiet and I’m always checking the driveway to see if anyone has to come home, the phone to see if anyone has called, and the computer to see if anyone has emailed. I guess I’ll have to take your word for it that some people need alone time in order to make together time better. Just makes no sense to me at all.

  • Christine

    Christine

    March 6th, 2013 at 1:09 PM

    i agree.. as a girl is very hard to give my boyfriend space. when all i do is wanna be around him.. but now i can see how important it is to a relationship… and i absolutely hate “me time” all i be wanting is “us time” but now i can understand.. what really helped it was the fact that i always watch my 3yr old niece when my sister is a work and all i be wishing for is my time to myself and i then realized that its selfish of me to ask her to give me my space.. but when my boyfriend of 2 yrs asks me for the same thing i act like its a huge problem.. but as a girl its very hard to give a man space.. especially when there are insecruties in the mix… but its something that is vital to the relationship and… im willing to try for “US” :/ if he can do it plus more..then so can I.

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