How much time should a couple spend together? Apart?
That’s the tug and pull of many couples.
Too much time together could make one partner feel suffocated. Too much time apart could make one partner feel isolated.
So how much time is best? There’s something most couples overlook that I’m going to share.
But first, I want to talk about the value of time together versus time apart.
It should come as no surprise that couples who spend time doing things together tend to be more satisfied in their relationships. Shared experiences give you something in common, strengthen your bond, and can improve communication.
So what about time apart? Is it worthless?
No. Definitely not. Time apart is necessary and valuable. It allows you each to pursue your own interests and maintain your individual identities. It can also help relieve stress and provide a sense of control for each spouse.
We all have different needs in terms of the amount of time we want to spend together or apart, though, and we need to understand and respect each other’s needs. That’s why it’s important to come together to discuss how to reach a balance you can both be happy with.
But here’s the truth. This is the thing that most couples overlook…
There is no magic amount of time together or apart you must achieve to be happy. What’s more important is how you spend that time.
That’s good news for parents of young children, busy professionals, or any couple who struggles to find time.
Make the Most of Your Time Together
When you do have time together, spend it doing something where you will…
- interact with each other in a positive way
- both enjoy yourselves
For some couples, even folding laundry together can work if you approach it correctly. The key is to interact with one another while you participate. Enjoy each other’s company. Connect.
But of course, getting out of the house and doing something fun is best. And here’s where husbands and wives often experience friction: what activities do they both enjoy?
For some couples, the trouble is that the wife does frequently invite her husband to participate in activities that she enjoys. Why is this bad? Because he finds them boring. Or intimidating. Or… whatever – he just doesn’t like them.
Because of this, he doesn’t have fun. And she knows he’s not having fun, so she gets annoyed. She’s trying to involve him and he’s acting like he’s being put out. All she wants to do is spend time with him!
But the problem isn’t that the husband doesn’t want to spend time with her – it’s that he doesn’t want to join in on those specific activities. That’s something you can fix. Something you can control.
Start by brainstorming: what do you both enjoy doing? If you’re struggling to find common ground, experiment. Try new things together. Go on an adventure.
Also, consider taking turns participating in activities the other enjoys. Even if it isn’t “your thing,” keep an open mind. Be committed to giving it a try. Otherwise, your disinterest or boredom may drive a wedge between you instead of bringing you together.
And who knows? You may just learn to love the activity and discover something new about yourself.
Make the Most of Time Apart
When you spend time apart, spend it doing something where you will…
- Build your sense of identity
- Plug into your own personal community – whether that’s a group of friends, family members, or co-workers
- Mentally let go of your work and domestic responsibilities
That last piece of the puzzle is often the hardest for women. And it is part of what can drive them to want more time together with their spouse than alone.
Why? Because many women, particularly mothers, have trouble enjoying alone time. They may feel guilty for taking time away from their children and other domestic or work-related responsibilities. They may have more trouble putting themselves first, even for a short period of time.
But that’s different when they seek time together with a spouse. It alleviates some of that burden, because it doesn’t feel selfish. Instead, they are investing time in their marriage.
That’s important for many husbands to keep in mind if you find yourself facing this battle.
Does your wife seek time with you in part because they simply need to take a break without guilt? If that’s true, what else can you do to get that mental break from their responsibilities?
Achieve a Balance
For most couples, it isn’t about an exact amount of time spent together or apart. It’s about finding the balance or rhythm that works for both spouses.
Once you find it, you’ll both be invested in providing the other with time together and time apart. You’ll both be driven to participate in those joint activities, and you’ll recognize the value that time apart has in refreshing your spouse’s mood and stress levels.
So keep communicating, listening, and experimenting until you’ve won that battle together!
Rooting for you!