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Save Your Marriage By Taking Time For Yourself
4 reasons why carving out time for yourself could strengthen your relationship.

When in a relationship, you need time to yourself.

As a divorce attorney, I have witnessed the breakup of dozens of couples. Many splits have come as a result of individuals not taking good care of himself or herself and instead getting lost in the relationship. I wish I could count the times a client has said to me, "I want to regain my identity." Losing oneself does not have to happen if you know how to find a healthy balance between taking care of your own needs along with taking care of the needs of your spouse.

The key to taking care of oneself lies in the ability to carve out time that has nothing to do with one’s mate and everything to do with nurturing the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of oneself and doing so autonomously. I believe because we are all trying to fit so much into each day, it becomes difficult to find the time that each of us needs to call our own. Perhaps it is the demands of two careers or the obligations associated with raising children that get in the way; or maybe it is simply that couples gradually slide into regular regimens—fall into habits that leave no time to even think about time away from one another. But, taking time out, away from your spouse just for you is essential if you want to keep your emotional connection and intimate relationship healthy and thriving.

After listening to the laments of many divorcees, I have come to the conclusion that if the person who felt so entrapped in a relationship had considered the four reasons below for taking time out for him or herself, many such individuals may have salvaged their relationships.

Here is a list of considerations that you can use to strengthen the marriage you are in, whether your relationship is currently in crisis or not. I ask that you ponder these dictums so that you don’t find yourself wanting out of your relationship or conversely, cause your significant other to want to pull the marital plug. Carving out time for you may strengthen or revitalize your relationship and here are the reasons (and some easy sayings to help remind you) why:

1. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Corny as it may sound, it is true. When we spend time away from our spouse (going to work should not be the only time) we often find that we appreciate him or her more when we do have time together. Think back to when you were dating your partner: Remember how you longed to be with him/her again after saying goodnight at the door? We all need to create and/or maintain that element of anticipation with one another to keep the flame burning. Make a point of stepping out to do something for you on a weekly basis. Take a cooking class, see a movie with a pal, go shopping, play 18 holes or volunteer for a charitable cause. When you do return home after any such outing you will find you may have missed your spouse! There is truly something exciting about missing someone.

2. Familiarity breeds contempt. It is easy to resent your mate when you spend too much time catering to his or her needs and not giving equal energy to your own needs. Yes, love can be all-consuming and when you are trying to please your lover and the focus is on what they need and want, and you neglect your own personal needs, you begin to begrudge the demands put upon you. On the other hand, when you step away and you are not with someone all of the time taking care of him/her but listening to your inner needs and attending to them, you do not build the resentment that can easily permeate any relationship. Resentment can bring down a relationship in a hurry and even if resentment builds over time, once one or the other of you becomes fed up it is very hard to repair the damage.

3. I am, I said. Taking time out also facilitates your ability to retain a separate identity. How many couples do you know who are together so much and so often that they begin to look and talk like one another! I believe you should have a separate identity and so should your partner. You can have a "joint" identity that defines you as a couple, sure, but what keeps the equilibrium in tact is when each party is also viewed by each another and those around them, as a separate "entity". Do not lose yourself in your mate. You always want to be the person you were before partnering up with your significant other or an even better person, but not a lost person.

4. Follow the yellow brick road. As I mentioned previously, what often happens with many couples is that they trade their individual passions, dreams and goals in exchange for duties and obligations of the marriage. Sure there are day-to-day needs that seem to take priority—the children's soccer schedule, an ailing parent, the remodel of the kitchen—but never should either party forego his or her deepest passion. If one does, eventually that desire to rebuild an old car, write a book, act in community theater or paint the perfect sunset—will weigh heavily on the mind, soul and a couple’s relationship. Each of us has a passion that defines us or a dream we aspire to and we should find ways to facilitate that goal. The best partner you can have is one who encourages you to pursue your dreams (that have nothing to do with the relationship) and, of course, you should do the same for your partner. Making room and time to follow your yellow brick road will truly reap great benefits in the end in terms of your relationship because when you utilize your natural talents, rather than abandon them, you become whole and fulfilled. Feeling complete unto yourself will only serve to enrich your relationship. Think about it: When you feel good about you, that positive energy transfers to everything and everyone around you.

Some of you reading this article may assert that these four reasons may sound selfish or self-centered, but they are not. Over the years, while talking to many couples—and not just those going through divorce, but those who have stayed together for years—the latter group has told me that their marriage has worked because they were never made to feel they were in a position to have to give up their personal identity, dreams or needs in exchange for a fully-committed relationship. Those couples stated that because they had taken time out for themselves as individuals, they had enhanced the quality of their relationships and oneself in spades!

Stacy D. Phillips is a California-certified family law specialist and author of "Divorce: It’s All About Control—How to Win the Emotional, Psychological and Legal Wars." Phillips represents many celebrities in film, television, music, sports, and politics, as well as business professionals and homemakers. Visit: www.controlyourdivorce.com for more information.

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Over 1 million couples turn to Hitched for expert marital advice every year. Sign up now for our newsletter & get exclusive weekly content that will entertain, educate and inspire your marriage.

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