We all know a one couple that seems to do everything together. You know the one. They share every leisure activity, and rarely if ever, does one partner make plans that don’t involve the other. Maybe you see this in your best friend’s relationship, maybe in a relative’s relationship, or maybe in your own!
Maintaining a sense of emotional closeness with your partner is important; it is one of the major pillars of a healthy intimate relationship. That said, you can have too much of a good thing.
Dr. David Olson’s Circumplex Model research demonstrates that a healthy relationship requires a balance of togetherness and separateness. Closeness is important, but so is maintaining your own sense of identity and independence.
Here are more tips for achieving an appropriate balance between “I” and “We”:
- Get to know yourself: Spend time by yourself—and try to relish it! Do things that you enjoy, whether that is jogging, going for a walk, reading, or watching your favourite TV show (maybe that one thing that your partner doesn’t like). Explore new places on your own. Reflect on what’s on your mind and record your thoughts in a journal.
- The late, legendary Stephen Covey (of the 7 Habits fame) suggested that consistent and continued refinement and attention to all of the following four areas in our lives: 1. Physical; 2. Intellectual; 3. Social and 4. Spiritual is the balance we need to be most effective.
- Often we find we live our lives narrowly focusing on work or home. The daily grind becomes our focus to the exclusion of others. The most important thing you can start doing is looking after yourself by focusing on the four areas above.
- If you need to spend some time doing a hobby, visiting with some friends, or pampering yourself, do it! So long as your “me” time is in moderation, you’ll feel a lot healthier and your relationship will reflect it.
Know that spending time apart does not mean you are decreasing the overall closeness in your relationship.
When a strong emotional connection already exists, you and your partner are able to pursue your own separate interests and endeavours to help each of you grow individually, while still feeling supported by your partner and confident in your relationship.
PREPARE/ENRICH is a customised online assessment tool that identifies each couples unique strength and growth areas. Based on their assessment results, a facilitator provides feedback sessions, helping couples to discuss and understand their results while teaching them proven relationship skills.