It's a trick that's SAVED our marriage.
Being in a committed relationship takes an avalanche of effort and dedication from two people. When you're single, you may think that those who are part of a couple "have it made," but in reality it's a completely different show altogether.
After the initial flush of dating, when a relationship becomes “serious,” there are big decisions to be made, including moving in together, whether or not to get married and have children, or, if you or your partner already has children, how to merge your lives together cohesively.
After several years, a relationship can change from something that used to be about you and your partner into stresses about money, kids, chores, work schedules, and why it is neither of you can ever get just one minute to yourselves.
One can certainly begin to covet the years spent without having to worry about caring for, supporting, or checking in with anyone else. This is why, on certain nights, my husband and I allow each other to act like we're single.
It's not exactly what you may think. When I say "act like we're single," I mean we allow each other segments of time where we just do the enjoyable things we used to do when we were single.
This has nothing to do with having sex or dating. I'm talking about the lazy, sloth-like things people do when they're all alone and no one's watching, like pig out on food, watch TV, and wear pajamas — or nothing, if that's the case.
For me, this includes vegging out, watching whatever I want on TV alone with a glass of wine. It's the best, and I used to enjoy this very much when I was a single woman.
For my husband, this could mean staying up late, playing video games, eating junk food, or just zoning out in whichever way he wishes. If we want to go out with friends, that's an option as well, but that would take actual effort and planning.
The concept of “doing nothing” really becomes a luxury after being in a long-term relationship awhile, working, having kids, or just living with the reality of being pulled in several different directions by life and the dreaded word: responsibility.
Of course, we usually have to save these times for when the kids are asleep or staying over at someone's house but it's something we do that helps us to come back to our relationship and responsibilities with a fresh perspective after having downtime for ourselves.
Spending time with your partner is definitely essential for maintaining a healthy relationship but spending time alone, turning off your brain, and not worrying about pleasing anyone but yourself is something every couple needs to allow each other to do so peacefully and without guilt.
Just because the two of you end up with a free evening doesn't necessarily mean you have to do something together, like go to dinner or the movies, or even have sex. What it can mean is some serious individual time to relax.
Oftentimes, couples feel pressured or forced to do date nights and such, but honestly, if you and your partner get the opportunity for a date night but both of you are grumpy and exhausted, skip it and agree to have a sloth night. Yes, that's the new name for free nights when you get to revert back to the privacy and selfishness of single-hood (minus kids, of course).
Every couple should try “sloth night” instead of “date night” once in awhile. Get in touch with your inner single person and just do you. You'll be much happier, less grouchy, and much more likely to enjoy a date night the next time it comes around.
Originally a Vancouver Island native, Michelle Zunter now resides in California where she is an ex-corporate slave, writer, artist, mother, stepmother, and wife. Join Michelle as she explores society, parenting, step-parenting, relationships, and much more.
This article was originally published at Huffington Post. Reprinted with permission from the author.