Make Sure You Have Your Fortress of Solitude

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Photo: FINNE Architects/
One way to keep a relationship healthy is to schedule time apart

When we're in a serious relationship, we spend so much time trying to figure out how to live together that we sometimes forget how to be on our own. It's sort of like how when you become a couple, your name becomes a couple name. You're no longer simply Kate, you are now Kate and Andy, or Kate-n-andy. And though, yes, the point of pairing off is ultimately to not be alone, that doesn't change the fact that we do occasionally need time apart from our partner, time to decompress from the demands of the relationship, time to allow ourselves to be, just as we've always been.

Superman certainly understood this need. He had his fortress of solitude up there in the North Pole, after all. His place to get away from it all, his place to occasionally shirk off the demands of saving the world. And while marriage and relationship may not be quite as difficult as constantly rescuing Metropolis from wanton acts of destruction, it isn't far off. Which is why couples need to establish their own fortresses of solitude.

This is not to suggest that you should have some secret hideaway that not even your partner knows about. Rather, what you should do is simply schedule a time of day, maybe only an hour or two a week, to spend time apart. And not time apart that has to do with work, or the regular duties of life. It should be time apart where the purpose is to relax, to reflect, to simply do something that you love to do on your own. And it doesn't have to actually be in solitude, it just needs to be something, anything, that allows you, if only even for an hour, to go your separate ways. It can be a poker night, an hour reading at a café, a book club, a workout at the gym, whatever, so long as it specifically belongs to you as an individual person rather than you as a couple.

And it isn't just about taking time out for yourself; it's also about allowing your partner to do the same. It should be an agreement whereby each of you does something totally independent of the other. And if you're worried that going off on your own is some sort of admission of defeat, don't be. We all have independent selves, regardless of how much we love the person we're in a relationship with, and that self needs to be allowed to flourish. It's not time alone at the expense of your partner, it's time alone in conjunction with your partner. So spend some time apart. Set up your fortresses of solitude to enjoy a bit of time on your own. Your relationship will be better for it.


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