Time for Me, Time for You, Time for Us

This is the third post in my series about relationships. Feel free to go back and read the first and second.

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep
-“Turn! Turn! Turn!” by the Byrds

A great enemy of any relationship is time. When other things, be they work, school, friends, etc. , our relationship is often the thing that gets sacrificed. You can even see the rational: my relationship is built on love, it can handle the lack of time. While this might be true, it is not a good solution. In fact, when you don’t seem to have time for relationship, there is only one solution:

Make time.

You have to make time for your relationship, preferably every day. It does not to have to be a lot of time. This time has a multitude of purposes. The first is simply to share your experiences of the day. You should know what is going on in the life of your partner, what they did, what they read, what they are thinking. You should also discuss the problems and concerns in your relationship. This is vital for dealing with issues before they become major roadblocks. Of course, you need to also discuss the future. Living in the moment will only get you so far. At some point, you need to look forward and plan for what is coming, design where you want your lives to go.

But this time should not be spent for just conversation. Having hobbies and interests together is equally valuable. My wife and I are part of not one, but several skeptical groups. This means we go out and do things on a regular basis together. Inside the home, we often pick an experience to share, be it a video game to play together or a specific television series to watch. An experience you share is valuable.

This is not just for the experience itself. It also helps build a collective frame of reference to explore each other and your relationship. A joint experience of an episode of a television show, a single news piece, or even simply a song can spare an awareness of yourself or your partner you never would have had otherwise.  The other day, my wife and I had a two hour discussion on moral theory sparked by something said during a football game. Those moments are there for the taking. Go get them.

There is a danger to this advice: it is very easy to take it to the other extreme. If spending some time with your partner is good, more is better right? The ultimate “more” then would be all your time right? You must be selfish if you want to spend time apart; the mere idea of alone time is a sign that you relationship is a failure, right? WRONG. Let me share a little wisdom:

Spending time by yourself for yourself is not selfish.

Just as critical as time together is, time apart is equally so. You need to have your own time, your own interests, your own spaces. These can be literal spaces, like my office I am currently writing in. They can just as easily be intangible: a favorite author, a special forum, a hobby or profession. These spaces let us develop ourselves independent of our partner. They help keep our personalities whole and diverse, keeping us from become too co-dependent on someone else.  And remember that if you get time and space to yourself, your partner deserves the same.

So what is the perfect balance of time together versus time apart? I don’t know. I mean this literally. I do not even know for my own relationship. It is a constantly evolving standard, with outside elements that change our situation. As I have said before, it takes work to make a relationship work. Finding the right balance of time spent together and apart is simply one more thing to work on.

-That is all.

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