We have all heard this advice before. No matter how wonderful togetherness feels in a relationship, it is still crucial for partners to take time for themselves. There is simply no way that a man or a woman can fulfill all of their partner’s needs; it’s just impossible to do. Too often people will give up a favorite hobby, sport or pastime in the beginning of a relationship to devote more time and energy to making the relationship work. But what happens down the road when one or both partners realize that they are terribly out of balance and not taking time for themselves? Relationship stress, miscommunication or worse: resentment and emotional pain can result.
It is healthy to have different interests. In fact, giving up our own interests and the little things we do to nurture ourselves when a relationship starts will eventually lead to resentment down the road.
It’s important for both partners to value quality relaxation time. There is absolutely no need to feel guilty about spending time alone. Independence is good for both men and women, no matter how close they may be in the relationship. Typically, when one partner actively takes some alone time, their partner is encouraged to do the same.
How our differences complement each other:
Just as men and women have different needs in a relationship, they also have different reasons for needing time to themselves. Too much togetherness usually results in partners expecting too much from each other. Women may tend to smother their mates, while men may seem cold and uncaring. It is healthy for each partner to take time out to explore his or her individual interests.
What Men Need:
Men need to periodically pull away. Remember that men are like rubber bands. It is his natural cycle to get close, pull away and get close again. It is important for men to fulfill their need for independence. Men automatically alternate between needing intimacy and autonomy. Give a man his space and he will be a better, more attentive, partner. When a man gets too close and doesn’t pull away, he often experiences increased moodiness, irritability, passivity and defensiveness.
Also, when a man is in his cave, he wants to be left alone. He is working out his problems and frustrations by either doing something alone, like reading the paper or watching TV, or doing something active with his male friends.
Most men are happy when their mates do something fun for themselves at these times. It means that she is not sitting around waiting for him to come out of the cave. He will come out ready to talk and be intimate again, and she will have curbed her frustrations by being good to herself and having some fun.
What Women Need:
It is good for a woman’s self-esteem to take care of herself. She can get wrapped up in taking care of her family and forget how much she needs to nurture herself. Particularly when a man is off in his cave, she can enjoy the time alone to go shopping, work in her garden, go to a class at the gym or simply languish in the simple pleasure of soaking in a hot bath with a glass of wine.
It is especially important for a woman to cultivate relationships with other women. Women need to talk about what’s happening in their lives. On Venus, this is an important part of relationship building. Since this is not the case on Mars, it is wonderful for a woman to get together with her girlfriends so they can talk about, and listen to, each other’s problems without judgment or offering unsolicited advice.
Couples can even plan these separate times apart. For instance, Tuesday could be his poker night with the boys, and Thursday her night for dinner and a movie with her girlfriends. Both partners will not only appreciate the time to do the things that make them feel good, but will come back feeling renewed and excited to be in such a healthy, well-balanced relationship.