Also, if we agree to participate in our partner’s activity, we have to do it willingly and act as though we’re interested. This is a form of emotion work, the art of presenting yourself as involved even though you might not be, because you want to make your partner happy. If we act bored or disinterested with a partner’s activity, we not only take away their enjoyment, but that same attitude is likely to be reciprocated when it’s our turn to pick an activity.
Marriages also require that each partner has time for themselves. That’s how we can maintain our individual identities, have opportunities to do things we like, and feel like we have some control over our lives. Alone time can actually help to keep a relationship fresh and less stressful, and gives partners something to talk about.
How much personal time is optimal varies from couple to couple. What’s most important is that spouses agree how much time they want together and apart. Here, perceptions are more important than the actual number of hours. Even if couples spend very little time together or apart, the relationship is fine if that’s what they both want. If each partner has different perspectives, however, the amount of time together and apart can be a source of conflict. For some partners, too much together time can be suffocating, while for others too little can make them feel insecure and isolated.