I couldn’t do this in a relationship…Could you?

A couple of days ago I was at lunch with a few friends from my mothers’ group back when the kids were

A couple of days ago I was at lunch with a few friends from my mothers’ group back when the kids were in school. We were talking about life now that things are slowing down for most (however still speeding up for some!) and we’re all beginning to enjoy the retirement stage of life.

One of the girls was telling us that the “empty nest syndrome” was making her feel emotionally isolated from her husband – even though it was a time when things should be heating up. One of the girls, Wendy, then declared that she and her husband Greg had decided to embark on something a little unusual they read about and that it was working wonders for them. It was a hall pass.

It sounds very high school, but it is in fact a temporary “break” from your marriage. Although they love each other very much, Wendy and Greg weren’t feeling as “in love” as they once were. They said that while they were living in separate states as two young professionals, they made the most of every second they had together and the relationship was as fun and passionate as ever.

The concept actually does make sense; a study published in the Journal of Communication in 2013 found that couples that see each other less frequently have more meaningful communication and positive interactions. This leads to higher levels of intimacy than those who spend all available time together.

Now I can understand that – there’s something special about being in the arms of the one you love after some time away, but for me all I need is a few hours – not a few days! My relationship certainly hasn’t been perfect over the years and raising four children dealing with sudden unemployment and then sudden reemployment hasn’t always helped with a happy home. But what I think we have done well is keep enough of our own interests separate so we always had alone time.

For example, while we love our kids to bits and we did our best to be there for them always, we made sure we had our own hobbies too. He has always enjoyed cycling and is part of a twice-weekly ride team. He has also been into craft brewing for a decade or so and enjoys “brewing session” with the men, too. About once a year they travel interstate for a weekend to adventure to another brewery and this also meant a break. For myself, I’ve had a craft group going from when the kids were tiny tots as well as a tennis group once a week. We go for a craft weekend once a year and my closest friends and I try to go away once a year as well as catch up weekly.

None of our time away means taking a break from our vows, it is just time away to make sure we keep on going as individuals and be happy in ourselves – trust me, we’re both easier to love when we’re happy!

I don’t think taking time off from my marriage is something I could ever do. I admire those who can do it and enjoy it but it just isn’t for me. My personal belief is that couples who consider that kind of option should do a little “relationship health check” first. Just asking questions like, “Do we spend, special, quality one on one time together once a week?” “Do we have individual interests outside of our life together?” “Do we make an effort to do one thing special for each other each week?” and the likes can really make a difference.

As I said, I’m no expert and my marriage isn’t perfect either, I’m just me. But I am curious to know what you think. Could you take time off from your marriage? Is this something you have done or do you know someone who does it? Share your thoughts in the comments below…

Originally published here

  1. Sue Walshaw

    I agree with you. I couldn’t take time off from our marriage. I don’t think you need to be together 24/7 but I would be shattered if I thought my husband needed time out from our relationship.

  2. ian  

    Hhhmmmm…….An agreement to break the self imposed rules of marriage. So what if one of you discovers a new “love” that ticks all the boxes…..and the other want’s to return to the marriage. Nope, if you get to that stage in a marriage it’s best to go separate ways and follow your destiny. We were never meant to be monogamous anyway. It’s just something imposed on us by religion, which is the root of all evil.

  3. Anne Mitchell

    i had an annual break from husband and kids. They all enjoyed skiing and I hated, with a passion, even the thought of a week in the snow. So, every year hubby and kids had their time in the snow and I had my break at home. it did wonders for all of us.

  4. Gaye Loaring

    Couldn’t agree with you more, people need to have their own interests not their own separate lives. Whilst it can be testy spending more time together when semiretired & my husband also works from home you need to keep your friends & interests going. It also makes for more interesting conversation.

  5. Sue O

    Not for me but each person is different and if their marriage stays strong and healthy, who am I to judge?

  6. After I had been married about 30 years, my employer sent me on a three months work task in a different state. Both my wife and son visited for separate weekends while I was there, but the break was wonderful. To have time on my own to just do my own thing without having to worry about someone else, was amazing.
    My wife and I communicated weekly about bills, finances and all the other administriia one deals with.
    The break was wonderful. Now, after 40 years, I’d dearly love a few months respite, however, whenever I mention going somewhere alone, my wife becomes angry and wants to know why I don’t want her to come.
    Long term relationships are difficult to maintain, but we are still good mates and hope to stay together until the end.

  7. Christa Caldecott

    We were separated enough for weeks on end when he was in the RAF. Now we are retired and each has our own interests; he plays golf, while I joined a Ladies’ Probus Club.

  8. Karen Smith

    Wouldn’t work for me either I think it is health to have different interests brings something into the relationship to talk about, as for seperate holidays we each have had times when family has required one or the other of us but not real holidays apart, not for us.

  9. Tolla Edda Anderson

    Good story
    In a marriage you need time together and time apart just as you need common and separate interests. Spending time apart with say a guys weekend or a girls weekend away or visiting adult children or friends interstate or overseas is another opportunity to have time alone and recharge the batteries . Each one of us needs “me” time. And reunion time can be lots of fun.

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