Can You Still be an Individual in a Relationship?

Stacey Greene Coaching
Stacey Greene, Author

Many times I have written about autonomy in the relationship and what a slippery slope it can be if you are an island.

But, I get that most relationships are built on the fact that the two of you are different, to begin with. If you are too much alike, then one of you becomes superfluous.

In my household, we have an even more tumultuous time every four years around November. You see, when we go to the polls, we cancel out each other’s votes.  Talk about being an individual! Dinner conversations can get rather heated around election time and this year was no different.

So what did we do to keep the peace? We allowed indignant comments and gibes for a period of time then simply decided to stop trying to convince the other one of our beliefs. We not only stopped the coercion, but we stopped watching the evening news for a period of time.

When one of my like-minded friends would call me on the phone, I would take the call outside so that he would not hear my opinions of the election.

When my husband wanted to see how his party was doing, he would retreat to his mancave and check his computer or scroll through his phone.

Peace in the home once more.

When we met we had similarities yet were inherently different.

I fell in love with him because we shared a love of health and competitive racing. However, we competed in totally different sports. We worked out separately and had different friends from the racing scene. We also shared a love for art, but in a completely different or separate way. My husband made huge, perspective drawings of waterfalls and buildings that he often entered in art shows. My art was more in the form of crafts where once we were married, I made our children’s clothes and elaborate Halloween costumes.

On the weekends he liked to go to a dance bar and drink and dance to a local band. I never enjoyed that in any way. My idea of a perfect weekend date was dinner and a movie. I didn’t mind him going out with his male friends to a bar to blow off steam from a hard work week. I would go out with my friends or even work an evening retail job for extra income. He eventually began dancing with another woman and they had an affair. When I found him texting her, I was broken in every way. How could giving him his space have been a good thing?

I am blessed that we worked it out, and our marriage is even stronger ( Stronger Than Broken – One couple’s decision to move through an affair). We learned that he can survive dinner and a movie, and I can survive doing my horrible white girl moves on the dance floor!

What are you and your significant other doing to remain individual while keeping the relationship strong?

Are you spending time together at the dinner table, or eating separate meals in the other room? Are you taking the dog for a walk together or taking turns walking the darned poop machine? Will you decided to read the same book and have an open discussion about it? Will you make a decision to let him into your deepest thoughts and fears?

Relationships are not always easy, but worth the effort and the joy that comes from having someone there for you. We were not always best friends. It was a relationship that we cultivated like anything else that you feel is worth the labor. Our “crop” has been bountiful and I look forward to continued success.

Now my version of giving him space includes leaving him alone when he is in the man cave, and he leaves me alone when I have my very chatty and loud girlfriends over, but no more separate date nights, EVER.





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