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Too much can be as bad as not enough: How more time apart could improve your relationship

Do you remember the first flushes of love with your partner, and the longing you felt for them when they weren’t around? Do you dream of recapturing that feeling now you live together and maybe even have children together?

It’s totally normal to want to spend all your time with your partner in the early days of a relationship: however, as time passes and your relationship matures, ensuring you spend time apart is just as important as spending time together to keep your relationship healthy and strong.

In this article, we’ll talk about how being together all the time can harm your relationship, how time apart can actually strengthen it, and practical ways to take time for yourself.

But isn’t it good to spend time together?

Absolutely! A study by the Pew Research Center revealed that 64% of married people believe that having shared interests is very important for a successful marriage. However, spending all your time together can detrimentally affect some relationships. 

This can happen for many reasons: for example, having young children often means that you have to spend more time together taking care of them (especially if you have more than one child). The increase in people working from home during and after the Covid-19 pandemic also means couples can end up spending nearly all their time together. 

Why is it bad to spend all our time together?

It’s not necessarily a bad thing – indeed, some particularly inseparable couples thrive more when they’re constantly together. However, most of us need some ‘time out’ once in a while, otherwise we can find the following symptoms taking place:

  • Running out of things to talk about 
  • Feelings of resentfulness or even contempt towards your partner
  • Feeling like you’re ‘bored’ of each other
  • Experiencing ‘roommate syndrome’, with reduced physical and emotional intimacy
  • Feeling suffocated by your relationship
  • Codependency – feeling like you’re forgetting where you end and your partner begins.

These symptoms can be poisonous for a relationship in the long run.

Taking time away from your partner (and maybe your kids too) is likely to help you ‘recalibrate’ your sense of self. It also gives you a chance to connect with friends and pursue your personal interests – all activities that help improve your personal wellbeing.

It also means that, when you are with your partner, the time you spend together is of higher quality. You’ll actually want to be together and to interact with each other. It’s likely that you’ll have more to talk about, and you’ll be more engaged with each other – leading to more and better intimacy, and a stronger relationship.

Practical ways to spend time apart 

Schedule ‘alone time’

Firstly, make sure you and your partner have ‘alone time’ scheduled in – whether that’s ‘home alone’ time or time to pursue solo activities and hobbies. This may require a bit of negotiation (especially if you need to consider childcare). You could also arrange to spend time with friends (without your partner). 

Arrange a weekend away 

If it’s practical, arrange a weekend away from your partner doing something you enjoy – maybe a music festival, sporting activity or just a weekend away with friends. Not only will you come back refreshed, you’ll also have plenty of stories to share! 

Work in a cafe or coworking space

If you’re a couple that works from home together, consider working from a cafe or a coworking space one, two or more days a week. Not only will it give you time away from your partner, it’ll get you out of the house (also good for your wellbeing) and you’ll make new social connections.

Talk about it with a couples counsellor

Last but not least, you can also talk about your relationship with a qualified couples counsellor like Ginny at From 2 to 3. Whether you attend alone or together, we provide a neutral place in which you can speak freely and move forward at your own pace – helping you to find the right balance between time together and time apart for your relationship in a non-judgemental environment.

At From 2 to 3, we help individuals and couples navigate life’s numerous relational challenges, irrespective of their relationship status or the nature of their dilemmas. We believe in nurturing relationships and cultivating healthy communication patterns. Ready to start your journey of understanding and growth? We’re just a call away.