You’re still an “I” even after “I do”
Have you ever had a friend or colleague ask your opinion on something, and you find yourself answering for both you AND your mate?
A recent study finds that an overwhelming amount of newlyweds are losing sight of their individual identity, exchanging “I” for “We.” “We like that movie, we’re into yoga, we don’t care for that restaurant.” Sometimes our identities can slowly become so wrapped up in our relationships that it’s difficult to discern who we are outside of our partner.
But when we’re talking long-term happiness, science strongly urges married couples to stop only thinking about themselves as a pair. Research by the Journal of Marriage and Family indicates that maintaining separate friendships and hobbies will preserve each person’s satisfaction in the long run. The short version: your marriage is a huge part of who you are, but it’s not ALL of who you are.
Let’s talk 5 small, superlatively simple ways to keep your relationship independence:
1. Have your own special, dedicated space.
Your own space does not by any means indicate you should keep your own permanent residence, but rather have your own space to escape. A place you every once in a while to meditate, decompress or merely relish in your own thoughts, such as a quiet spot overlooking the city or an overgrown wildflower field where you find peace and serenity — just as long as it’s a sanctuary for you.
2. Keep a separate hobby.
Yes, when you love someone, you want to show an interest in their passions. So you try kayaking when you’re terrified of murky water, or he joins you at the Farmer’s Market secretly wishing to be spending Sunday morning on the couch. It seems innocent, but studies show this can desecrate a relationship.
Keep a few likes separate — you’ll be more likely to meet new people, cultivate and pursue your individual passions, and keep an identity outside of “we like to…”
3. Spend time completely alone.
When he/she is heading out of town for a few days, the initial reflex might be to call a buddy and hit up a local show or watering hole. But don’t be afraid to spend the night completely alone — turn up your guilty pleasure music too loud, cook your favorite food, try meditation and celebrate you.
Spending time alone can be sensationally gratifying, and chances are you’ll discover something new about yourself.
4. Put your phone down.
Don’t disappear for hours upon hours, but you don’t have to check in every second. Sometimes you have to put your phone down and live in the atmosphere that’s around you. We’ve gotten so dependent on our phones, we’ve stopped paying attention, and you might be surprised what you experience if you just turn your ringer on silent for a while.
5. Make compromises, but hold your ground.
You’re going to disagree, and that’s just the way it is. There will be times when sacrifices need to be made, and pride needs to be swallowed, but strong relationships consist of people who aren’t afraid to speak up and share their thoughts and feelings. Only then can true compromises be made, and you’ll be left with a deeper understanding and appreciation for each other.