The one thing I honestly couldn’t do in my marriage

We all have limits as to what we would do in our marriages. I’m not one to judge somebody else’s
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We all have limits as to what we would do in our marriages.

I’m not one to judge somebody else’s marriage, but sometimes I hear things that make me think hard about my own marriage.

Last week I was at coffee with a few friends from my mothers’ group back when the kids were in school. We were chatting 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…

  1. Diane Evans  

    My husband used to be away a lot with work now retired we have different interests and things we do together We do not need a hall pass if I want to do stuff he does not that is better with company family and friends are always available. We have enough time apart without needing more

  2. John_Palmer  

    Another with being separated for long periods of time. Or even one being on shift work and not seeing the other only on weekends once a month. They become independent of the other one. They begin to do things the way in which they choose to do them. When they are together One wants to do it one way the other the other way. Bickering starts. Not an ideal way to have a marriage. I have seen it happen. I have also seen it be the end to all ends. It can split up a marriage.

  3. Janine  

    I ‘put up’ with my other half being away in the ADF. I knew of this beforehand.
    I was raising the kids’ by myself, as my Parents’ were dead, & his were f…… useless. I knew this also, beforehand.
    You could bet London to a brick, if there was to be a serious problem with one of the kids’, it would be when he was absent!

    When he arrived home, it was like a ‘stranger’ had entered the house. Over nigh on FORTY years’, I’d become quite independent, because I HAD to.

    Anyway, after all this time, he decided he wanted to be no longer a ‘married man’, & left me.
    He’s got some ‘mental health issues’, which have surfaced after all this time, apparently.

    My independence has been complete.
    Strangely, I don’t miss him at all.

    That’s life!

  4. I guess my situation is a bit different. My husband has Parkinson’s and I care for him. Our personal relationship hasn’t been “normal ” for many years. In saying that it is not about the “act” itself. In six weeks I am going on a cruise with my sister. I need the break and I think he does too. He will be going to respite for 3 weeks. I know this is a forced break from him because he needs specialised care but I really think it is needed on both parts as we seem to be getting at each others throats. I know I will miss him and I hope he does too. Maybe he will appreciate me a bit more.

  5. david crockett  

    I have been married 35 years and the idea of a hall pass is awesome .I would do it but I don’t think my wife could cope. We don’t get on anymore because we are bored with each other. I think we stay together for financial reasons rather than emotional ones. She does not want sex anymore ,at least not with me. I am still horney and want a sex life. I would happily step out of my stifling relationship for a break.

  6. Jenni Ramsay  

    Have been married for 30 years, together 33 years, with grown children and grandchildren (not a first marriage for either of us)
    Our marriage has been emotionless (read into that what you will) for the last 20 years. No my choice.
    Mostly feel flat these days but am too emotionally tired to change it now.

  7. Guy Flavell  

    I love my wife dearly … but just can’t live with her any more. She was/is the world’s worst control
    freak (bless her) and used to drive me batty. We now live separate lives and she’s definitely still
    my best friend. Our children have accepted the situation really well and understand that Mum and Dad
    are now much happier and contented. Perhaps this is the answer for many of the unhappy marriages
    discussed in this article ?

  8. Gosh, I would love this. Been married for 37 years and I knew from the beginning that it was a big mistake to marry out of my culture but we have 3 very successful children and 3 grandkids so I am resigned to it. I live for the brief times that he is away from home and I can relax completely. No complaining, no negatives and no pressure to be someone else. We have nothing in common and don’t even seem to be able to talk about anything so I am silent and withdraw and I suppose that hasn’t helped my depression but that is my life.

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