Space and time for yourself is, ironically, the key to a happy relationship.
The news comes off the back of a long-term study undertaken by a group of love-focussed professors. The Early Years of Marriage Project has been following the lives of the same 373 couples for 25 years, the researchers have extracted gems of information about married life, love and relationships over the decades.
True to statistical form, 46% of those couples have divorced since the study began.
The most recent findings may be somewhat contradictory to popular thought: 29 per cent of spouses said they did not have enough “privacy or time for self” in their relationship, with more wives than husbands reporting not having enough space (31 per cent versus 26 per cent).
Of those who reported being unhappy, 11.5 per cent said the reason was lack of privacy or time for self.
Ever met one of those do-everything-together couples? They drive me a little nutty.
You know, the ones that come as a matching pair – inseparable for everything, right down to the weekly supermarket run – that can’t stand to be away from each other for even one night and they undertake all their social activities as a united front so that girl’s night is constantly crashed by over-eager boyfriends, and blokey weekends are vetoed in favour of couple-y rendezvous.
Suffocation is a slow and painful death. Please don’t wish it upon your romantic relationships.
Dr. Terri Orbuch, lead researcher on this study, explains, “When partners have their own set of interests, friends, and time for self, that makes them happier and less bored.”
“Time alone also gives partners time to process their thoughts, pursue hobbies and relax without responsibilities to others.”
Hell to the yes, it does.
How do you sit down at the dinner table and talk about your day when your other half was glued to your side the whole time?
How do you maintain a sense of sanity if you don’t get time to do the things you love? (Not the things “we” love like antiquing and long walks on the beach at sunset, the things you love independently that nourish your very core.)
I heard of a guy this week that leaves the house early and pretends he’s going to work just so he can fit in a game of tennis without the guilt of looking like he’s running away from his clingy wife.
Being close to the point that your partner needs to lie to get some personal space is not okay.
If you’re feeling a little claustrophobic in your own relationship, try some of these tips to make yourself a little room without the drama. (If you’re the one doing the clinging, just stop it!)
Think about what’s missing from your life and what hobbies would make you happy. Do a little research and then talk to your partner once you have all the facts.
“I’m thinking of taking a novel writing class on Thursday nights.” Is a lot less threatening and ambiguous than “I feel suffocated and I need space.”
Encourage your partner to find their own time to themselves or out with their friends too. A girl’s night for her gives you free rein to organise your own activities with your own friends and vice versa.
Extreme clinginess often stems from insecurities about love, which has a lot to do with whether you were brought up in a stable home and is tied to your self-esteem.
Reassure your partner they are loved, regale them with tales of what you’ve been doing while you were away, don’t keep secrets or lie about your movements and most importantly, take baby steps.
An hour here or there at a class can eventually build to an afternoon to yourself and maybe even a weekend, should you manage your trust in each other well.
And most importantly, don’t feel guilty. The need for alone time has little to do with your relationship. It’s very healthy to spend time by yourself. Enjoy the precious moments you do get, when you get them.