We are constantly bombarded by quotes and lyrics telling us that our significant other should "be our other half," "complete us," and "be the macaroni to our cheese." These all sound good and romantic but what are they really saying? We take these sayings to heart and start believing that our husband should be our lover, best friend, colleague, and family all rolled into one.
How many of you have seen a friend disappear when they start dating someone new? How many of you can think of a time you have done this yourself? Who can admit to themselves its happening right now?
These behaviors are all very normal and happen within almost all relationships to varying degrees, but if left unnoticed they can actually lead to feelings of resentment towards your partner who will end up feeling hurt and confused.
When Chris and I started dating, I went from single to seeing Chris 4-5 times a week. Because we were together so often, he became my only outlet to voice my anxiety, anger and frustration. Chris loved me and was great for a good hug or a shoulder to cry on, but could he really comfort me about a bad situation at work? I realized that trying to make Chris my everything was putting way too much pressure on him and not giving me what I needed. So I made more friends at school and talked about exams with them. I started hanging out with my girlfriends more so we could chat for hours about silly topics.
Here are six ways to keep a healthy balance of love and friendships.
1. Have a man night/girls night. Planning a weekly night out without your spouse is a great way to give each other some well-deserved space while keeping your friendships alive. We live in a busy world where it is hard to make time between work, family, and relationships. Reserve Thursday nights, or Sunday morning brunch for drinks with your friends and let your partner enjoy some time alone or with their friends. This is not just healthy for you and your spouse, but a great way to engage with your social circle of friends who might also have busy schedules.
“I realized that trying to make Chris my everything was putting way too much pressure on him and not giving me what I needed.”
2. Make family time without your spouse. Think back to the last time you visited your parents without your partner in tow. It might be difficult to remember. The older you get and the longer you are in a relationship, the more likely family time starts to consist of holidays and events. Make the effort to go grab lunch at your parents house on a Saturday afternoon or go shopping with your siblings. This gives your partner time off from being on their best behavior around the in-laws and it allows you to reconnect with your family.
3. Bring everyone together. This is a great baby step to take when you don't want to miss out on spending time with your partner but really should be seeing your friends. Host a BBQ and invite everyone, their friends, your friends, co-workers, neighbors. Broaden your circle so that when you do have a get-together you can get the best of both worlds. It also makes it a lot easier to say "I'm going for drinks with Mary" when your partner can put a face to a name.
4. Have separate hobbies. Having your own hobbies allows you to keep a sense of self. You and your spouse are not the same person. You do not have to listen to the same music, eat the same food, or do the same activities. If you love yoga and they love bicycling, then go do your own thing every once in awhile. That's not to say you shouldn't include your partner in your hobbies, but you shouldn't stop doing something you love just to hang out with your spouse. Even when you're in the same room it's okay for one of you to read a book while the other plays video games, it allows for some down time and makes the couch cuddling time afterwards more meaningful.
5. Don't bring your work home. We have all had really bad days at work that made us come home fuming, smoke pouring from our ears, and yelling at the top of our lungs. For the most part, our partners have consoled us, commiserated with us, and made us laugh it off until we feel better. It's totally okay to vent your frustrations, but when it becomes too common of an occurrence, your spouse will no longer have the energy to help you and you may start to resent them too. If your partner knows that every day you come home and dump negativity on them, they will start to dread when you walk in the door. Go for drinks after work with your co-workers to complain about your awful manager, or hit the gym when you leave and then come home feeling refreshed and happy to relax with your partner.
6. Make your time together meaningful. If you're spending 24/7 together, your spouse will start to resemble a toaster oven. Useful sometimes, but mostly just hanging around. If you don't want to take each other for granted then make the time you have together meaningful. Be present in your marriage and put down your smartphones. Go for a walk outside while holding hands, cook a great meal together, or watch your favorite childhood movies. If you are going to be spending time together don't waste it.
Spending a little less time with Chris made being together more meaningful. Chris is not my best friend, my co-worker, or my brother. He may be a good temporary replacement for those people when they are not around, but I want him to put his efforts into being my lover and my husband.
You are living your Love Trip everyday together. They say "Home is where the heart is," but sometimes we forget how much we love our home until we do a little traveling. Your friends, family and co-workers are all important parts of the equation of a happy relationship.
Chris and Katie are the Love Tripper's www.lovetripping.com. They have been together for over 9 years, and got married in April 2014. They believe that the key to a healthy long-lasting relationship is constant work and effort. The Love Tripper's share their advice on how to keep that sexy fire burning, avoiding pointless arguments, and finding a deeper love for your partner every day. Love is a trip, enjoy the ride!