Couples spending time together

In an email about her husband going on a short vacation on his own (to get baseball player’s autographs) my best friend just said, “One nice thing about our marriage is that we give each other our space.” You know, I keep hearing that “space” and “your own interests” are important in a marriage, but I don’t see it, at least not yet.

Rick and I have been married for only 7 months, so maybe this will change, but right now, we spend almost all of our free time together. This weekend, for example, we went shopping together, to an ice skating show together, to the gym together, and to meals out together. We plan to go bowling this afternoon together. There is a mix of my interests (ice skating) and his (bowling) and then errands like shopping. We are both willing to work slightly longer hours so that we can commute to work together (a half hour or so drive). We even shower together every morning. Frankly, the only time we are alone is when one of us is surfing, which is hardly ever more than an hour or so, or when we are at work.

I think some people would say that this is too much, but it seems to work well for us. We get along wonderfully.

I guess my questions are these: I know that for some people space works and that is wonderful for them. Why, though, do you always hear that space in a marriage is good, with the implication being that it is good for everyone’s marriage? How much time do you spend away from your SO and how does that work for you? I guess I am hoping to find someone married for years who still enjoys their SO’s company as much as Rick and I like each others’ company.

Well, my wife and I have been married over 21 years, and together for nearly 30. We still enjoy each other’s company, and don’t take separate vacations (other than the occasional trip Mrs. Mercotan takes to see her folks when I can’t take off work). So I guess we fall into the category you’re looking for.

But I must say we do take plenty of time apart in our day to day lives outside work. She’s got her friends and activities, same for me, then we have our friends and activities. We are definitely not in a perpetual state of “coupleship”. Been there, done that, nearly poisoned the relationship permanently.

To survive longterm as a couple, the two people involved must be able to recognize that she’s got her stuff, he’s got his stuff, they they’ve got their “couple” stuff. People that try to put everything into the “coupleship” generally either don’t last or learn they’ve got to change. I still find my wife more fascinating and enjoyable because we do have different interests.

Oh, and everything changes as soon as you have kids, so don’t be too sold on the “ideal” way things work for you now, anyway.

Good luck, and I hope you continue to enjoy the honeymoon period for a long time!

Thanks for the reply and the good wishes. We won’t be having children, but aside from that, your reply was the kind of thing I was looking for. If you don’t mind me asking, why or how did being in a perpetual state of coupleship almost poison the relationship? That’s the part I don’t get–at least not yet–and I sort of hope I never will. I like this couple stuff. :smiley:

I think it’s because, in general, it’s not healthy to be too dependent on each other. You can’t have a healthy relationship if you couldn’t live without each other, because if you can’t live without each other, you aren’t chosing to be with another person, you are forced to be with that other person. If you feel like you have to be with another person, you’ll do anything: lie, cheat, steal, change who you are, in order to keep them, in the same way that you’d do anything to get food if you were starving to death. It implys that even if they other person becasme a monstor and started abusing you, you’d stay, because you’d have to: you need them.

It is much healthier (and more flattering), in my opinion, for both people to know that they could walk away and be OK, and to ever day chose to stay because they prefer to. Part of being able to walk away is having outside interests, an outside, independent sense of who you are. It’s rather like being able to support yourself: there’s nothing wrong with one partner staying home and running the house and the other person making the actual money. However, it’s different if the partner staying home couldn’t support themselves, in fact would be totally fucked if the wage earner were to suddenly withhold support, and both people know it. A misbalence like that is hard on a relationship even if it is never abused. Dosen’t mean that reltionships can’t survive that sort of imbalence: they do all the time, and happily. But in my experience, it’s easier to maintain a relaionship where neither partner needs the other.

What MandaJo said. The best and happiest relationships long-term seem to be made up of people who are independent and have demonstrated the capacity to be successful in enjoying their lives on their own. When two such people get together, and respect each other, it’s got the makings for a very positive relationship.

Contrast that to someone who needs someone else to be happy. When they find that someone, they’re very happy. For a time. Eventually the other person will not give their partner just what the partner thinks they should be getting to be happy, eventually resentments creep in, and down the oubliette goes the happiness.

Think of it this way: A strong relationship should be one of inter-dependence. Both partners capable of standing alone and handling life, but together they stand taller and handle more. Contrast that to a relationship borne of co-dependence, where each partner leans on the other, because without them, they will fall separately. Together they don’t handle that much more than they ought to be able to handle separately, and the smallest change in stability can send them both crashing down.

Hope that helps. Frankly I doubt it. My wife and I had to learn this stuff thru that old harsh taskmaster, personal experience.

Basically what Manda JO and Qadgop said. I think it’s a matter of not feeling like you HAVE to do everything together. UncleBill and I spend most of our free time together, we enjoy each other’s company tremendously, but when one of us wants to do something the other is not interested in, neither of us feels any anxiety about spending time apart. Both of us have learned from past relationships that being joined at the hip is not healthy for either one of us. I read a good analogy years ago: it’s like building a fire, where the logs need to be close enough together to share each other’s heat, yet far enough apart that air can circulate between them.

My parents rarely spend a night apart. But they spend a lot of time “apart” as my mom is up in her sewing room and my dad is in his shop. They check in on each other of course, but I’ve always thought that they give each other a lot of “space.” My husband and I are the same way. Or, at least, we used to be before we had kids. We are definitely one another’s best friends, but we spent time doing our own thing.

We don’t generally vacation apart, but I have gone alone to see my girlfriends, or to see Doper friends. A few times I’ve taken our son to see my parents alone, because it’s a lot cheaper for just us to go (as ooposed to getting a plane ticket for husband and putting the animals in the kennel, etc). And he’s gone alone when he’s had out-of-state woodworking classes. I miss him a lot when we’re apart, though.

I think different people have different “alone-time” needs, so relationships vary a lot.

I am wondering how anyone got that we have to spend time together or are dependent on each other. We like to spend time together.

Both of us could survive on our own. Heck, I did it for 42 years.

What I am talking about is choosing to spend virtually all of our time together. I hear rumors about that being a bad thing (and if it was the type of dependency you guys are thinking of, I can see how it might be), but I don’t understand why. For example, sometimes people argue that you give up your own interests. With us so far, we have expanded each other’s horizons–Rick had never painted pottery before or watched skating, and I had never watched Sports Center or the Superbowl. Turns out both of us enjoyed the new experiences. Why would it have been better for me to have gone to paint pottery by myself or with a friend while he watched the Superbowl? I can see how it wouldn’t have been worse if we had done our own thing, but I think some people would argue that “we need our own interests” and would have said it would have been better. I don’t get it. Given that we are not dependent in the ways you are talking about, what is better about time apart?

I think it is justa “rule of thumb” thing: it dosen’t always apply that couples that do everything together are too dependent upon each other, but it happens often enough that it is a sign that you should step back and assess, and make sure that you are still capable of walking away if you should ever want to.

Furthermore, you two are apparently fortunate enough to have enough time to do everything that you both want to do. Kids, for example, cut into time dramatically, and couples with small children often can’t do both bowling AND ice skating in the same weekend: either one person has to give one thing up OR they have to go their seperate ways on the only free afternoon of the week.

In addition to this, I kinda tend to feel that spending too much time together can be habit forming to the point where there is dependency, even if neither of you meant for their to be. If you are with someone 24/7, it’s hard to even imagine a life without them it it-the idea literally makes no sense, and you can’t even picture it, i nthe same was that if you eat chocolate every day, pretty soon the ide of a world in which there is no chocolate just makes no sense. For me and the way I am about relationships, being able to picture making a happy, content life for yourself without the other person in it and then deciding against it is a critical part of keeping my relationship happy.

Finally, I think that lots of people are so brainwashed as children that “real love” means spending every momment together that when they finally realize that for them they need time and space apart it is a serious epiphany, and people have a tendency to keep talking about their serious epiphanies for years into the future, so thatthey don’t forget what they learned. Furthermore, people who do spend time apart fro their spouse but who know that you don’t may well think that you will think that “seperate vacations” means “not really in love” and so feel particularly pressured to reassure you that this is not the case for them.

I am more of the same opinion as the OP on this one. I totally understand that it varies from couple to couple, and if one has very different interests then the need for space increases.

On the other hand, me and Mrs Iteki do, well, more or less everything together and have done for 8 years now. There is no pressure involved in spending time together or anxiety in spending time apart. We each occasionally socialise “separatly” with work-mates for example, but generally we “live in eachothers pockets” and enjoy it. If I go out with workmates I generally don’t stay out too long, cos even if I am having fun with them, I would be having even more fun at home with MrsIteki. That’s not to say it hasn’t happened that either one of us has been having so much fun that we didn’t come home until light, but thats not so usual.

Part of it I think has to do with that we are both girlies, and are “best friends” as well as married. Part of it also I think has to do with the fact that we never had a period of dating, as we lived in different countries when we met. We saw eachother 24/7 when we got a chance to see eachother, and moved in with eachother straight away as soon as we could move.

I don’t understand it at all when I hear my friends say “I love him to bits, but god it’s lovely to get away for the evening” or similar. It is only straight friends I have heard say this, which makes me think part of it is “guy/girl” stuff. Either way, I rekon it comes down to doing whatever works for you in your relationship :slight_smile: Make your own rules!

DanielWithrow and I love spending time together, and we do lots of things as a couple, but we do have different interests and different friends. He’s an avid gamer. I’ve played D&D a couple of times, but it leaves me cold. I’m glad he has a group of friends that he can game with, and I’m equally glad that he doesn’t expect me to love it just because he does.

For me, it’s really important to have some time and some social interaction on my own, not as part of a couple. When you’re in a social situation as a couple, the dynamics can be very different than when you’re on your own. Frankly, when my closest girlfriend and I get together without our SOs, we tend to have a better time than we would if they were there.

My wife and I have been married for 38 years. We still spend a lot of time together…eating, dining out, watching movies, going to social things, vacations, volunteer work, sleeping together, shopping, etc.

But on the average night, she will be reading…I will be in another room working on something, or on the computer (SDMB), or watching a TV program. Our TV tastes are very different, so I watch my programs on one TV while she watches hers on another TV in a different room. During the day, I will be working on some project…usually outside…while she will be doing something else in the house.

Oddly enough, we have never shared the same interests even when we started dating 42 years ago. BUT she has so many personal traits and ethical positions and is intelligent that all of the detail differences don’t make a difference. And she is still amused by my (Farsidesque) sense of humor.

It works well for us. Neither of us feels ignored or taken for granted or subservient, and each of us gets to follow our interests. But we have this nice place where we meet in the middle as two persons.