SELF HELP RESOURCE - Relationships / Marriage

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'Let there be spaces in your togetherness ... Love one another, but make not a bond of love ... Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone ... And stand together yet not too near together; For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.' - Khalil Gibran.

Life is perfect. You and your partner seem to be spending literally every waking hour together and you both love it! When you are away you are constantly on the phone with him/her...you exchange texts, e-mails... and report almost every action of yours to your partner. It's like you have found a new ‘you' in this relationship and would not want to change for anything. You don't feel the need to be with other people. When at work you can't wait to get back and be with your partner. Nothing seems to be as fulfilling as spending time with him/her.

As time goes by, your friends begin to complain that you are never around...you realize that you haven't spoken to your relatives for a real long time. Slowly you begin to feel stifled in this sort of an arrangement. You feel that there are so many other things that you would want to do but just can't find the time. You feel guilty for having ignored others and for feeling ‘trapped' with your partner...you wonder "Is everything ok?"


What is Space and Why is it Important?

Sure, couples need to spend quality time together...it helps enhance their emotional bond. But it is equally true that partners in a relationship require their individual space. People have different facets to themselves. When with their partner they are their ‘relationship-self', at work they are their ‘professional-self', with their parents they are their ‘child-self', with friends their ‘buddy-self', etc. Sometimes, when you are in a relationship like the one described above, you might feel that you miss the other facets of yourself.

By giving each other space and nurturing your own individuality, the intimacy that you share with your partner would be much deeper when you come together. Here's an example of this...

Seema has joined Rotary and enjoys her work there. Her husband takes care of the kids whenever she goes for the meetings in the evenings or weekends. She in turn is okay with him going for Golf in the weekends. They do many things together, but are also happy giving each other the space to do their own thing.

If you are in a relationship and feel that you don't have time for yourself, don't feel guilty! It is perfectly all right to feel that way and it is important to convey your feelings to your partner.

If your partner just announced to you that he/she needs space, don't get disheartened. It is not that your partner is tired of being with you... they just need to get in touch with themselves again... to be the person that you had fallen in love with.

How do you Convey it?

While you are very clear about the reasons why you need space, your partner may not be completely aware of what you are thinking. Sometimes, just saying "I need space" might work out fine but there are times when it can get a lot more trickier.

Let's look at a typical scenario:

Ramesh used to play Bridge with is friends every Sunday afternoon between 2:30-5:30pm. After getting married he stopped playing, but really missed these sessions. After six months he decided to get back to the sessions. When he told his wife Kavita, she was very upset, she felt he loved his game more than her and chose his 'Bridge Buddies' over her. Every time he went for the game, she would get upset and sulk the whole Sunday evening.

Yes, your partner can feel victimized or unwanted; your partner can blame you for being ‘so selfish'. Let's look at how to handle this situation better.

Once you have recognized that you need some space...

  • Reflect over the reasons for it. That would help you convey it to your partner with more clarity.
  • Talk to your partner when you both are calm and open for discussion. 
  • Be gentle and do not blame.
  • Reassure your partner that you still love him/her and that by having some time to do your own thing does not mean that you are drifting apart.
  • Encourage your partner to spend time for the things he/she likes.


What do I do When my Partner is Enjoying the Space?

Are you feeling like there's too much time now and you don't know what to do with it all? Hey...it's ok. We all, at some point, get too involved in our relationships that we tend to forget the things we used to enjoy.

When was the last time you picked up that paintbrush and made an attempt at your masterpiece? Or went out with your friends for a movie/shopping etc? Have you been ignoring your family?

The point is you now have time to do whatever you like to do. You can even try something new and exciting. Imagine all the different things that you would have to share with your partner. When you do the things that you like, you would be happy with yourself. When you are not happy with yourself, how do you expect to be happy with your partner?

If you have reluctantly given your partner space, here are a couple of things to keep in mind.

  • When your partner decides to do their own thing, give them real time and space. Which means, don't keep calling your partner every now and then to see what they are doing and how they are getting along.
  • Don't sit and brood that you are alone because when your partner comes back, you would be greeting him or her with resentment, sarcasm or even emotional blackmail!
  • Trust your partner. Come on, you are in this relationship because you trust and understand each other's needs. If you are insecure about your partner requiring space, discuss it and find out how you can be more secure.

Like in most other aspects of our lives, balance is extremely important in relationships. Clinging to each other or living in different worlds might not really be helpful in a relationship. It is important for couples to discuss and be aware of what is considered ‘appropriate space' in their relationship. For this, couples should be aware of their individual needs and then negotiate what is acceptable to both.

Like someone once said, "openness and honesty are highlights of a healthy relationship and the foundation of trust is necessary for any growing relationship."

Latest Comments

jessyp on 22 Feb 2021, 19:38 PM

Always misunderstood on chat messages, unable to talk it out

manohararul on 11 Nov 2019, 15:08 PM

When I use 'I' to express how I felt, the reply I get is 'that is your problem then'. - Liked this comment :)
Nice points to remember and remind oneself again!

shreeram123 on 10 Jul 2017, 16:35 PM

Be flexible to honest demands made by your partner. No one is big or noone is small.

DeepSagar on 07 Apr 2017, 08:08 AM

Try not to compare or refer the situations with others, try getting a solution by talking instead of saying Look at XXX or YYY and learn from them.

jtkrishna on 06 Apr 2017, 13:01 PM

Simple words and that helps how to be with our partner in life

jtkrishna on 06 Apr 2017, 13:01 PM

Simple words and that helps how to be with our partner in life...

geekyashish on 03 Mar 2017, 14:52 PM

nice, article

vinodhsankuru on 27 Feb 2017, 16:49 PM

+ Don't bring up the past mistakes + Talk about only the current situation

c0unsel on 10 Feb 2017, 15:12 PM

When I use 'I' to express how I felt, the reply I get is 'that is your problem then'.

skrgds on 25 Jul 2016, 05:29 AM

Good one...