In today’s world, most people are busy, running around trying to accomplish tasks or find time to do all the things that they have to get done. Most people don’t find the time to focus on themselves, put themselves first, even if just for a bit or to do something that will benefit themselves.
In a relationship, it’s so important for people to focus on themselves and practice self care as this in the long run will benefit not only them but also their partner and their relationship. Working on yourself or doing those things that you enjoy, even if it’s just reading a book at home, can lead to a stronger and healthier relationship in the long run.
Many people tend to forget about the person that they were before they were in a relationship. People seem to forget about the “me” and focus on the “we or us”.
The person that you were when you now met your partner is valuable as there was something about you and what you were doing or your interests that attracted your partner to you. When you give up a lot of these qualities, you tend to focus more heavily on the relationship and lose your sense of self, which is an important aspect to the relationship.
Having experiences apart from one another can be very important to a relationship as it allows for you to grow as a individual and to develop different skills and talents that may be of importance to you. It’s healthy to keep involved in those activities that you enjoy even though your partner might not, as this will bring you happiness and allow for you to maintain your sense of self. This translates into the relationship as it allows people to get involved in activities and situations that are valuable to them and they return to the relationship feeling content.
Also, doing things individually can allow for you to have a chance to share your experience with your partner when you are back together and spending time as a couple. Many people experience guilt when they choose to spend some time apart from their partner. They believe that when in a relationship, they should be spending all of their free time with their partner, but this doesn’t have to be the case as spending time apart is also healthy for a relationship and fosters individuality within the relationship.
There are many different ways in which you can practice “me” time. For people who work, are raising or taking care of a family or family member or doing both, they may not feel as though they have enough time in a day. Some people find it more possible to have “me” time when they create a plan ahead of time so that they can follow it and account for that time of self care.
A challenge for some people is finding time for themselves when they are living with their partner, as it can feel as though they spend all of their free time together. It’s important to discuss this and to come to an understanding of how each partner can have time to do what they value and what they think of as important to them.
Not sure how to practice self-care while in a relationship? It can be as simple as planning to have dinner with a friend, going for a walk, run or exercising by yourself, taking a drive, going to the movies or watching a TV show you enjoy, going back to school or doing a course you’re interested in, reading a book, journaling or just joining a group with people who have similar interests to you. The list goes on, but it really is based on the individual’s wishes and likes and can’t be generalized to everyone.
In many relationships, people become codependent, which causes problems when people are trying to create time for themselves or get involved in activities that are important to them. People may not feel like they have the freedom to do what is important to them when they are involved in a codependent relationship.
The partners should be understanding of one another and view this time apart as a time to focus on self so that they are the best version of themselves within the relationship and to continue to grow as a couple. Within a relationship, having time apart or alone shouldn’t cause problems as it should not mean that someone is using it as a means of avoiding their responsibility in the relationship or to avoid issues that the couple may be experiencing. For people who realize that they are using the self-care and “me” time as an escape mechanism, take some time to explore this and address it within your relationship. Most importantly, even though this time apart may be for you to do things separately, it should never impact the level of trust in your relationship.
Stephanie Sabga is a Masters Degree Level Mental Health Counselor and Marital, Couple and Family Therapist. She is Nationally Certified in the United States and upholds this certification while working in Trinidad. Stephanie has a private practice operating out of Victoria Clinic in Woodbrook. If you would like to contact her, her office number is 220-2898.