Recently I came across someone who is writing a book on marriage. Guess what she is advocating? That married couples should be together all of the time. Yep, that’s right. I said ALL OF THE TIME. Oh my god…if ever there was something to bring out the cringe factor in me, that was it! Why? Because it’s the exact opposite of what I believe a healthy partnership is based on. If I had to sum up my philosopny, it would be that people need to GET A LIFE outside of their relationship! And quick!
Of course partners need to have time together to nurture their relationship, tend to the things that need to be done, go out, have fun, stimulate one another intellectually, emotionally, spiritually. But being together all of the time, rather than fostering those things, smothers it. TOO MUCH TOGETHERNESS IS NOT HEALTHY.
When you are stimulated and involved in life itself, you are more apt to create somethng healthy and interesting with another person, and are less likely to become overly dependent which is definitely a relationship turn-off. Who wants someone hanging on them all the time? Someone who is letting their own insecurities dictate their life. Being overly dependent means you are dumping the responsibility for your own happiness on someone else. There’s danger in that. What if they don’t want for you what you want? Then you’re in trouble.
Striving to actualize yourself as an individual makes you feel more whole and fulfilled and discourages putting unrealistic expectations on your partnership. These kinds of expectations bring extreme disappointment and create an environment where you can easily blame your partner when you fail to realize your true desires. Now hear this: no one is responsible for your happiness but you. Nobody can fill you up but you. Others can add to and enrich your life, but ultimately, it’s up to you to either make or break your life.
So how do you get a life? One way is by developing your unique talents and abilities. This doesn’t necessarily mean having a career or job–although it could. It simply means finding what you’re good at, nurturing it, developing it, and then sharing it with other people…for money or not. Doing this gives you a feeling of accomplishment and worth which you are then able to bring to your relationship. And that, my dears, is the food upon which relationships thrive.
Getting a life is also about maintaining your own growth. Some people think… “whew, I finally found someone I feel safe with…mission accomplished, now I can relax.” But doing that means you are looking only to your relationship to fulfill you which is asking it to assume a huge burden: that of providing the same excitement and sense of discovery that comes when you are taking risks and becoming your best self. If you ask your relationship, and only your relationship to fulfill you, it will buckle from the strain.
Another aspect of “getting a life” is cultivating good friends with whom you can talk and share deeply. Hopefully, you can do that with your partner, but you need more than one person. Who are you going to talk to about challenges in your relationship? Your girlfriends, or guy friends, of course. When we replace our friends with a joined-at-the-hip relationship with a partner, we deprive ourselves of the wonderful joys of friendship which we all need.
In summary: when you take care of yourself and are not overly dependent on another, you become more confident and competent, and thus have much more to give to your relationship, which gives it a real chance to flourish. I ask you, who would you rather be with?…a dead, stagnant person too empty to bring much to the table? Or someone who is growing, changing and excited about life? I know what my answer is. What’s yours?
Check out my book, The Affair: From Breakdown to Breakthrough, A Therapist’s Real-life Journey, for more great tips and insights about relationships. You can read a synopsis of the book on my website, www.infidelityandaffairs.com and buy it worldwide from all Amazon websites (both print and Kindle) and Barnes and Noble.