Shortly after each year’s Christmas and New Years’ festivities conclude, I start dreaming about the beach. Though I am not a hot weather person most of the time, I start itching to feel the sand between my toes and catch up with the girls (read: lifetime friends who are now women). For as long as I can remember, we long-time friends gather every summer at the Oceana Pier in Atlantic Beach for some salt-water therapy.
We catch up on the goings on in our lives. Discuss any potential new relationships. Laugh until we cry, and occasionally dodge drunk guys with questionable tattoos. It is one of my favorite times of the year and Eric is gracious and understanding about my need to go – especially now that the girls and I live so far apart.
To a young couple, it might seem puzzling or even concerning that I enjoy getting away from Eric, but I assure you it is not cause for worry. Spending a few days apart periodically is good for our relationship since there is trust and positive intention. If I tried to leave every other weekend (without a good excuse, such as a sick parent who needs to be looked after), Eric may have reason to get suspicious. Healthy couples should not need much time away from each other, but a few days every now and then is understandable and can be beneficial!
Seven Reasons to Take Some Time Away from Each Other
- It is good to miss each other occasionally. As quarantine taught us, being together constantly can make it difficult to remember why we love each other. ~smile~ Too much togetherness can be a real problem. No matter how much we love someone, it is good to separate for short periods of time to clear your mind and gain perspective.
- It gives our partner a chance to pursue other projects. When I leave town, Eric has a choice. He can relax or he can accomplish. Sometimes, he plays video games and other times he knocks out big projects like scanning piles of papers or cleaning junk out of the basement. Either way, he does not have to consider me in those choices. It is a free weekend for him to do as he pleases.
- You can pretend your relationship is new again. While you are away from each other, it is a great time to revive those sweet phone conversations you used to have or to write each other love letters. For some, this is the silliest idea ever, but for others, it meets a deep emotional need. How did you act when your love was brand new? Recreate that when you are apart.
- It gives you both a chance to reconnect with yourselves. After being in a relationship for a long time, it is easy to lose your individuality. When I return to my hometown, I feel closer to my true self. I remember what is important to me. The stroll down memory lane without any pressure is good for the soul.
- A solo trip can help you refocus on your walk with Christ. Something about renting a cabin at the lake all by myself (with my Bible and some highlighters) sounds very inviting to me. Even though Eric spends a lot of time working and researching, he is still at the house, and I am programmed within my nature to think, “Does he need anything? He is probably ready for dinner. He is going to come in any minute with a question.” And, honestly, there is nothing wrong with that nature – it is what happens in relationships. Once you join your life with another, it is no longer only about you. Eric and I refer to each other as fantastic distractions. A trip away can free you up to take that long, uninterrupted time with God. Or, to study to your heart’s content. Or, to get real with the Lord and deal with sin in your heart. Optimally, I would love to do this at least twice a year!
- Time apart gives you a chance to pursue interests your partner does not share. Eric is not an outdoorsman… at all. He loves being in the house. If he has food, a bathroom, a bed, and the internet, then he is good to go. He loves soaking in information. Though not an outdoor enthusiast, I do enjoy fresh air, going to the beach, and watching an occasional little league game. Going away gives me the chance to enjoy myself without worrying, “Is Eric bored? Is he miserable?” My personality will not let me relax if I think someone in my presence is uncomfortable or upset – especially if that someone is Eric.
- Sometimes you just need to have fun with your pals! When we attended a previous church, Eric used to annually go on a men’s retreat each April and he looked forward to it all year. The cornhole tournament, the discussions around the campfire into the wee hours of the morning, the choir of men snoring (okay, maybe not the snoring) – it gave the guys a chance to get away and bond. It was always with great pleasure that I sent him because he came home happier – exhausted, but happier. When I get to spend quality time with my friends at the beach, laughing until we hurt and soaking in that salty sun, I come home happier. Romantic relationships should never take the place of friendships. We need them both. You will never meet all your partner’s needs, and he or she will never meet all of yours. Only God can meet all our needs, and even He built us to be social creatures to need friendships as well.
Whether you are dating, engaged, or married, taking some time apart can be nourishing to yourselves and your relationship. Couples who cannot be apart at any time for any reason probably have some red flags they need to address – trust, co-dependency, control, or unhealthy fear. If you are terrified to travel without your partner (or have your partner travel without you), make sure to get at the root of that fear. Is it justified? If so, how can you work through it? Is it imagined fear? Take the first step and let go for a few days.
If we hold our boyfriends, girlfriends, fiancées, or spouses too tightly, we might lose them. If not physically, we can lose their respect and their affection. It is all too possible to smother an otherwise promising relationship.
So, summertime is here! How are you spending it? Do you have some fun planned? Together and apart? Make the most of these beautiful days!
How do you feel about traveling without your partner?