This week for 10 things to talk about before marriage, we’re discussing the time spent together and apart from our partners. Finding that balance between spending quality time together doing things you both love and talking about the need for time alone and friendship outside of your marriage is so important in the success of any relationship.
Image courtesy of Datingish.com
Do you envision spending your Saturday nights snuggling with your sweetie, watching movies and simply enjoying quality time together from the comfort of your own home? Or do you picture spending your weekends exploring your city, going to markets all around town and always trying out new restaurants and outdoor activities with friends? Your partner may have a different idea about how to spend his Saturday nights and weekends. Discuss these things and don’t make the assumption that your partner will always want to do the same things as you, this can lead to unnecessary disappointment.
There is no right answer of how much time a couple should spend together and apart, it depends on your relationship, but it’s scientific fact that spending time apart promotes an appreciation of your marriage and each other and that we have more interest in our spouse if we spend time apart. Birth rates increase after war veterans return home. Primates celebrate the return of the hunter to the group after a long absence. So, when you hear the saying absence makes the heart grow fonder – there is a lot of truth to it. So, going out and doing things without your honey can be good for your marriage.
Our relationship started off different than most, we were roommates before falling in love, so right from the start we were together nearly every day and every night for three months straight - we didn’t really have any other option living just a floor apart. Those three months were amazing, our living situation really sped up the ‘getting to know each other and dating period’ of our relationship. After those three months we spent eight months in a long distance relationship, from one extreme to the next, with just two week visits together here and there every few months – A visit to Vancouver by him for two weeks to meet my family, a visit from me to London for a month while he had knee surgery, and then another visit by him in June to propose to me. After that there was one visit to celebrate our engagement with his family in Iceland and after that it was just the waiting game until his Canadian permanent residency came through.
Although it was a very testing and hard being apart for such long stretches, I still say our relationship was at it’s very strongest during the months we spent apart and has made our marriage that much stronger as a result. We talked every day, used skype, wrote letters and emails every week, and we planned trips to visit each other always making sure we had something to look forward to together. The thrill and romance of our relationship was so exciting. Time apart is a great foundation for a relationship to be built upon, because you truly value your time spent together when you are in the same place and there’s no time for arguing, just enjoying eachother’s company. Now, we really do value our marriage and being able to live together, as much as we value our time apart spent with friends, but sometimes it still sn’t always easy to find the perfect balance.
For many happily married couples their secret is time apart, giving each other space and independence. So, you shouldn’t feel guilty for considering a night out or weekend away without your spouse. But don’t do it to prove a point, if you want to go to an event or plan a trip without him, talk about it and encourage him to do the same. Be confident, honest and loving when you ask.
In an article written for The Huffington Post, author Laurie Plum says “Don’t ignore any jealousy and/or trust issues that might surface. If she thinks, ‘I just don’t like the idea of his being out with the guys drinking, and doing whatever,’ or he thinks, ‘she doesn’t need to go out to a bar and be hit on by single guys,’ then you should remove these obstacles by putting your cards on the table and talking about what you actually do when you’re out and about.”
Time apart allows you both to be independant and have strong friendships, and the stronger your friendships are the more time he gets to be himself and vice versa. Do crafts and shopping with your girlfriends and let him watch the football game with his buddies who actually want to watch it or go golfing with the guys. When you aren’t looking soley to one another fill eachother’s social needs, you appreciate each other for who you are and can connect much better. Embrace the fact that you each have individual interests as well as similar ones.
We get our ideas of how much time should be spent together and apart from our own families, as discussed in previous weeks. Different families have different styles. Some families emphasize closeness, while others accentuate individual needs and activities. Your partner will have different expectations shaped by their family experience, so you may have to find a new balance. Some couples may be on the opposite end of the spectrum and spend too much time apart when one of both of you are very busy with work or other hobbies, it’s important to set time aside for each other.
Ask each other these questions to get the conversation going:
• What are your expectations about how we will spend our free time?
• How do you want to spend our days off?
• Do you believe that we should be doing everything together?
• Can we each pursue our own interests?
• Do you need or want time alone?
• How would you feel if I want a night out with my friends now and then?
• How will we make sure we have quality time together?
This is one of my favourite DIY projects ever that fits in perfectly with planning time together. It is date night in a jar, from Life in the Green House.
It’s a great idea to have one special day or night a week set aside to spend together, a saturday or sunday works best since you can do whatever the activity is at anytime during the day. Each of you can write on the popsicle sticks things that you would really like to do together, and stick them all into a mason jar and draw one out each week.
Red sticks have more expensive dates on them that require planning onyour part, like a concert and dinner your choice and his choice, or a night at a cute bed and breakfast.
Dark pink sticks have ‘at home’ dates – a football game and nachos or homemade pizzas and an Italian movie.
Light Pink dates have things you can do away from home but are less expensive than the red and don’t require as much planning, think laser tag and go carts or dinner and a movie.