How is this common problem solved?1. No matter how much you love one another...free time for each is essential. In fact it is relationship sustaining and enhancing.
The words of Khalil Gibran in the classic The Prophet explain this concept beautifully:
"...but let there be spaces in your togetherness and let the winds of the heavens dance between you...Sing and dance together and be joyous but let each of you be alone...and stand together, yet not too near together for the pillars of the temple stand apart..."
2. Individual growth is essential in keeping mutual admiration and respect growing. We all have observed marriages in which one partner seems to have positively grown and developed as a person and the other seems to have remained the same or stuck at an earlier level of development. On the otherhand, we all have observed those golden couples where each has seriously taken responsibility for his or her individual development and have supported the growth of the other as well. Two amazing human beings make one amazing couple!
3. Plan and compromise so each feels that his or needs are being met.
One young wife stated that if her husband loved her, he would give up his gym membership (he worked out about 1.5 hours a day 6 days a week.) Her husband resisted--this was a big part of his life before he met her and part of "who I am." It is ironic that some of the activities we resent our companion spending time doing are the very things that helped make them attractive to us in the first place!
The above mentioned couple made a compromise: the husband could work out 5 days a week in the morning while she slept, but weekends were reserved for joint/family activities. She joined the gym also and took a late afternoon Zumba class a couple of times a week --before dinner, which the family made a point to eat together.
4. If you are feeling resentful of your spouses activities, ask yourself these important questions:
- Could it be that his or her alone time activities bring up the fact that you are not motivated or have yet to take steps to become involved in something that you are interested in doing?
- Do you feel you are being left behind as your spouse grows, changes and develops for the better? ( You know you can do something about this--just do it)!
- Are your spouse's "free time" activities healthy, appropriate, educational or simply just fun or relaxing for them (as opposed to illegal, dangerous or destructive)?
- Is the time spent participating in the activity reasonable?
- Does the activity ultimately contribute to your spouse's ability to be a better husband/father, wife/mother?
- Have you set a daily and weekly time to spend an amount of time (equal to that of the individual activities) as a couple?
If the answer to these questions is "yes," then send your spouse on his or her way with your blessing... and get working on yourself. A person can give back fully only when they have something to give--individual time certainly helps keep the "cup full."