Portland Marriage Counseling: In Relationship, Carve Out Time for Yourself

April 16, 2014 by

Recently, I’ve written about the importance of putting work into your relationship and have even given some suggestions for couples in a long-term relationship to keep the spark alive. This week, I’d like to take a slightly different approach and talk about individuals within relationships.

Many people who are married or in a long-term relationship notice that they’ve stopped pursuing a lot of the activities that they did when they were single—or at least do them a lot less. For example, someone who used to paint in their free time might find themselves spending much less time at the canvas, or someone who used to regularly meet friends for happy hour might let that social ritual fall by the wayside as they dedicate more time to couple-oriented activities or household responsibilities. It’s natural for this to happen in a relationship—and spending time with your partner is a great way to strengthen your bond—but it’s also valuable to set aside some time each week for your individual interests.

Individual Interests Can Strengthen Relationships

“Spend some time apart” might sound like unusual advice from someone who provides Portland marriage counseling, but setting aside a certain amount of time to focus on yourself each week is valuable for your relationship in the long run. For one thing, it can help you break out of the “rut” that many long-term couples complain about getting into by introducing novelty into your routine. It helps you balance your individual identity with your couple identity, which can make you feel more satisfied in your relationship.  Pursuing an activity that you love can also put you in a better frame of mind when you spend time with your partner, so that the two of you are able to thrive on each other’s positivity.

If you’re looking for a way to get back the spark in your relationship, challenge yourself to reinvest in an individual interest or hobby that you’ve been neglecting. Maybe it’s working on a craft, taking an adult education class, or even just getting coffee and catching up with a group of old friends. Your partner may choose to use this “individual time” to pursue a completely different interest—it doesn’t matter if you want to do different things, as long as you also set aside time to spend with each other. Spending some time apart can reinvigorate you and also make you miss and appreciate your partner—which will make the time you spend together all the more meaningful.