Health & Well-Being

Time Together and Time Apart

Striking a balance helps keep a marriage healthy and happy. 

Louis H. Primavera, Ph.D.

Friends have a powerful effect on one’s marriage, not to mention one’s personal psychological health. They provide emotional support when we need it, and spending time with other couples strengthens our own identification as a couple and make us feel connected to the world.

It’s just as important for partners to spend time doing things with each other, without other couples. Husbands and wives who do things together become more closely connected and come to enjoy each other’s company. The shared experiences give them something in common and that helps make them feel good about each other. For couples who have established a habit of doing things together, they actually come to enjoy these activities more than those they do on their own or with other people.

Of course, it’s not just the amount of time that matters, but how that time is used. Joint activities are only beneficial if they meet a few criteria. First, they have to lead to positive interactions between partners. Even simple chores, such as grocery shopping or gardening, can add to a relationship if partners feel they’re sharing an enjoyable experience.

Secondly, these activities have to be liked by both partners. Most couples have at least one or two similar interests, so they should be able to come up with things they can do together. If they don’t, they can try to find something new to share, or take turns participating in each other’s activities. But keep in mind that fairness and balance are essential. Partners should have an equal say in selecting activities and equal time should be dedicated to each partner’s interests. If we only choose to do our own activities, our partner will probably get tired of that arrangement, and our time together may then be more damaging than enhancing to our relationship.

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