Before my husband and I got married, I had grandiose ideas about how we would be inseparable. We would remodel our house together. We would conquer the world together. We were friends after all, even before we ever considered dating. And we had gone through our marriage counseling with flying colors. But reality set in two weeks after our wedding. I felt worn-out from wedding preparations and was in serious need of some personal time. And I started to feel incredibly guilty that I wanted time away from my new husband and step sons. What was wrong with me? Was I a terrible new wife? Was I being incredibly selfish? Was I making the relationship all about me? Was I a dud? I struggled with these feelings for a few weeks until finally discussing them with my new partner for life. Amazingly, we were feeling the same way. A few weeks later we took a personality test as part of a wedding gift we received from a friend of ours who is a Christian counselor. The results came back and sure enough both of our personalities lend themselves to being loners, or at least needing time by ourselves for personal refreshment. Phew! We weren’t wacko newlyweds.

We often say to each other, “I like you so much more when you go away and then come back.” While we say it to be funny, it’s incredibly true. In addition to living together, we work in the same office all day every day. And while most days I love it, sometimes I need a little elbow room. And sometimes he needs his alone time. Does it mean that we no longer love each other? Does it mean we aren’t compatible because we don’t want to be together every waking moment? No, it means we are in a healthy relationship that tries to understand each other’s needs, in this case, the need that both of us have to be alone. Often taking a step back to evaluate myself personally, check my attitude, and just be alone is a renewing process. Practically, alone time for me can be walking around TJ Maxx by myself. Just alone with my thoughts (and 100 other TJ Maxx customers, of course) but regardless that feels like alone time to me. I come home feeling restored and ready to again conquer the world.

Trying to understand and honor each other’s need for refreshment is a great challenge for married couples, but it applies to so many relationships in life: coworkers and employers, parent and child etc. Everyone needs a break, regardless of what that break may be. Without feeling guilty, take time out for yourself so you can be at your best for others. Ultimately, your relationships will be better for it.

-Rene’ Perry, The Domestic Lady

Rene Photos/Florals by We Took to the Woods

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