Something I deeply treasure in our marriage is the time we spend together. Whatever season we’re in, whether there is ample amount of time, or barely enough time to reconnect, I truly do value that sense of togetherness.
When we were dating and in college, some of our mutual friends joked that we were attached at the hip, they said they never saw us by ourselves – we went everywhere together, did everything as a couple, and tried to see each other as much as humanly possible.
When we were first married, I heard the term co-dependent and worried that we’d fallen into that relational category because of how much we loved to spend time together.
Co-Dependent -a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (as an addiction to alcohol or heroin); broadly: dependence on the needs of or control by another
Obviously, we weren’t co-dependent at all. In reality, we were both growing into our own persons, becoming inter-dependent, and inspiring each other to reach our own individual goals. My husband went back to school with a renewed attitude after marriage, and was driven with an inspired purpose. His grades reflected the change – he was suddenly making all A’s and loving his progress in knocking out classes.
We energized each other, and encouraged each other to succeed.
But even in all this togetherness, there was still a lot of times where we would not be so attached at the hip.
There were many nights where we would relax and be in the same vicinity, but doing completely different things. Myself reading a book or the beauty magazine, Allure, while my husband read his own book or played his game console. Both focused on other things, but still under an umbrella of love and treasuring each other.
There were still many times where we would read together – to each other even, but it was in these times of separateness that the comfort and relaxation of just knowing that we were there for each other, being quiet and immersed in our own interests, a sense of confidence in our relationship emerged.
I once knew a woman my age that had just gotten married, complain that she was sitting on the couch watching her husband play his game console, and had the incredible urge to throw it across the room.
She was angry that he wasn’t spending time with her in that moment, and maybe in some ways she was lacking intimacy in their marriage. But this controlling neediness from women to always be the focus of their man, is something that drives relationships into the ground.
Couples need time where they are by themselves, and men in particular, seem to need to be alone or with other men, even when they’re crazy about the woman they love.
There are times when my husband will get off work at night, and instead of come straight home to me, he stays to talk and laugh with his friends there, or goes to visit friends and past co-workers for awhile. He misses them, and visiting with them, even though it takes away a little of our couple time, gives him so much fulfillment.
Sometimes he’s talking about his work, even asking their ideas and opinions on things he faces, or they’re telling horrible jokes that would make me blush or faint, but this time is his and his alone. It is not meant for me to intrude upon, or to make him feel guilty for. He needs that time with others, other men and even a few women who add an overall deeper meaning to his life experience that I alone can’t provide. When he does come back to me, he’s usually glowing with the happiness of getting to be with these crazy people, and can’t wait to tell me what’s going on in their own lives, or the dirty jokes they shared LOL.
Do I miss him when he stays out later to be with these other people he loves? Of course, but he needs them… they add to his life.
Men need their own time to get away, to recharge, to become energized. I remember growing up my mom told me about Abraham Lincoln’s wife. She was apparently, an extremely jealous woman, who hated allowing Lincoln to spend time with anyone else, especially another woman, and it was hard on him because he was naturally friendly and very people-orientated. My mom used her as an example of the ugliness of jealousy in a woman, and how she can use it to control and manipulate her husband’s time and his life. She told me that Lincoln was sad about his wife’s character flaw, and paid the price for it by having less enriched relationships with other people in his life in an effort to keep her happy. A woman like that makes her man have to keep her happy, or she’ll try to make him miserable, or throw his game console against the wall to get his attention. She’s allowing her emotions rule their relationship (and rule her husband) and coming from a place of jealousy that’s inspired by insecurity.
Women need their time alone as well, there have been so many times throughout our marriage when I’ve been grateful for the time spent away with other women friends when we gathered together for talking at the park with our kids, or Bible study, or even going out together. There is something that I get from them that my husband cannot (and probably should not) try to provide for me, simply because they’re women – we connect at a different level and share experiences that men don’t understand.
You just can’t be together all the time.
Men seem to respect that women have their hobbies or girly activities, it’s women like Lincoln’s wife that don’t seem to get that men also need their space – their time to relax and spend time with friends.
It’s good to respect our husband’s space, to let him have the hobbies he loves – reading, writing, hunting, baseball, game-playing, visiting friends, or whatever it may be.
Respect his space, be interdependent.