MAINTAINING YOUR INDIVIDUALITY INSIDE A RELATIONSHIP

Monday, 23 May 2016

I 'technically' moved out of my parent's house when I was 14, literally since that age never spent more than 2/3 months at home so I learned to be 'my own person' really early in life and as such I have no problem doing things alone or for myself. But then, one starts developing an interest in the opposite sex and for some inexplicable reason all that I'm fiercely independent nature goes out the door and living an intertwined 'we life' overtakes that independence. There is nothing wrong with wanting the 'we life' but that life shouldn't come at the expense of being an independent person! No one likes or is a attracted to a boring person or worse still a person who doesn't know who they are and isn't confident in their choices!

People really downplay how important it is to be your very own thinking being in a relationship. I am in no way advocating that each person should simultaneously 'do them' and the 'we life' but that you can have the 'we life' without erasing yourself. Before we were married, the husband and I used to spend weekends together and we would have the everyday mapped out with activities right till the moment we said goodbye because this was all we had until our next visit. Fast forward to today and I've found that living together means we don't have to do things together all the time and as much as I love the time we spend together, I also love the time we don't spend together (as I'm sure my husband does as well)!Honestly, if for nothing else, take up hobbies outside the relationship so you can have more things stop talk about! So here are my tips to doing the things you love while still having the 'we life'

#1 Accept that there's more

I remember a long time ago one my friends was going through a breakup and he said something along the lines of "I don't know what I actually like to do anymore because we always did things that we liked", which is probably a very common status in most relationships but living this way isn't good for your growth or the growth of your relationship. You have to accept that there's a bigger world out there and whilst your partner might be your bezzie, there are gonna be times when they would rather hang out with other people sans you, soz. Sometimes when people ask me what I'm doing for the weekend and none of my plans include the husband they are quite flummoxed but my stance is just because we're married doesn't mean we're conjoined ya know? I've accepted that there are things that I like to do that the husband has no interest in and making him do it means in the future I will have to sit through something I hate (equity and that) so rather than put each other through all that- we just do things alone. Simples.

#2 Manage expectations

This is a Major key! Literally, if you don't manage each other's expectations you will end up fighting because one will feel like they aren't getting the right amount of attention and the other will be upset because are they not allowed to have a life outside of the 'we life'? So the best way to avoid this scenario is to give set times/ day/schedules whatever the case might be when you need to do your own thing. For example, it's now the norm in our house that on Thursdays I go for my Italian classes and don't get back until about 9pm and similarly on Saturday mornings I have to wake up all alone because the husband is playing golf. We've both accepted that this is what is required for each of us to have a life outside of our relationship and we are both happy with that because we know what to expect. Part of managing the expectation is being honest and saying exactly how long you/ what impact/ who is involved in the activity because your partner might have to make adjustments to accommodate the hobby/activity.

#3 Prioritise time together

Having hobbies and accepting that you don't have to spend every waking moment together doesn't mean you have to put the needs of your relationship on the back burner. Time together is, in my opinion, one of the most important ingredient of a functioning relationship (shared experiences and that)! Imagine this statement mid conversation, "remember when we went ice skating and Jill fell and accidentally kicked that lady and knocked her out? That was sooo funny right? Oh nevermind, I just remembered you weren't there"- eeek. Let's be honest, no one likes to be the outsider and if you start accumulating enough of these nonshared experiences your relash will suffer. So while it's awesome to allow each other time to do things alone, it's also important to not let those things come before your relationship.

Relationships should be partnerships where you accept that don't always have to enjoy the same things and the differences between you makes the relationship that much more interesting. Life is far too short to not do the things you love or pretend that you don't have things that you would like to do outside your relationship so just be yourself!

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