I have a theory on what makes marriage and parenting successful. It’s not rooted in science but rather experience and anecdotal evidence. If you ask me, there are two important factors:
- Common interests and
- Respect for each other’s individuality
What does the above equate to? Balance.
Common interests allow you to enjoy life together in ways you both appreciate and value while the latter gives you the freedom and encouragement needed to independently pursue pleasure. I think that an openness to do so creates excitement in the relationship because there are things to talk about and share with one another.
The physical definition of balance is described as having your weight spread equally so you do not fall. One’s mental health is no different. If the scale tips too far in one direction the result is emotional instability. Virtually all aspects of our life require it: work/life, diet/exercise, so it only makes sense that it be applicable to family and freedom.
Most women I’m surrounded by are riddled with guilt at the mere thought of gaining some independence from their families. To them, in particular, respect for their individuality is important. All they need is a little encouragement from their partners, reassurance that it’s ok to spend time away from singing wheels on the bus with the toddler and prime TV binging with the hubby. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we were more than just mothers and wives prior to saying I do and as the ones that typically bear the brunt of the daily family grind (yes, I know, this is not always the case.), nothing is more appreciated than the ability to actively remember who we once were. No, it’s not about approval or permission so the feminist in you can stop rolling her eyes. It’s more about affirmation and emotional support that demonstrates an understanding for what we need in order to remain sane.
I can’t for the life of me understand the POV of those who fuss over their husbands or wives taking time off for themselves. To me, they’re forgetting to look at the big picture. They’re forgetting that their beloveds have signed on for the long run and that they have the rest of their lives to spend sipping lattés together. Virtually every waking moment will be in company so focussing on the absent ones just means that you’re not taking advantage of the minutes you find yourself in as a couple. Even worst, maybe you’re inability to provide the Misses or Mr. with a little independence is a direct result of your unhealthy dependence? Not every experience should be had together, there is a limit to being attached at the hip.
There’s a third point that I think is important in maintaining a healthy marriage: a conscious effort to keep the romance alive. One which I really don’t believe can be achieved if points 1 & 2 are ignored. So the next time you frown at the notion of him/her having a reasonably earned weekend away, consider the consequences and choose to turn that frown upside down ;