Dear Christine, Interconnected in Ypsilanti

  • Posted on October 1, 2017 at 12:47 pm

Dear Christine,

My husband and I work together, live together, share most of the same friends and enjoy many of the same activities. We’ve been together for 9 years this September. I recently decided to join an LGBT bowling league.

My husband feels hurt but I feel it’s time we don’t do every single thing together. My feelings for him are as strong as ever. Am I being selfish for wanting us to finally have a thing or two that we can do on our own?

Signed, Interconnected in Ypsilanti

Dear Interconnected,
Every relationship is unique and complicated. What first attracts us can later on drive us apart. In a marriage, each of you has individual needs and wants as well as the couple together having needs. Making sure you have time to be together, sharing love, lives, cooking and cleaning, friends and emotions are necessary. Sometimes couples grow distant because of being apart too much, due to work, parenting or separate interests. If that’s the case, planning time to be together is crucial. People grow and change in their emotional and social needs, but they don’t always grow the same direction at the same time. As needs and wants arise, it’s important to renegotiate the boundaries of your marriage. So, if you always did everything together for the first 9 years and now you want to do one social activity without him, it helps to have a conversation about your needs and his. He doesn’t have to like changes in the marriage, but after expressing his disappointment or fears and feeling heard by you, he may find it tolerable. Boundaries are created by what we each can tolerate and what is non-negotiable. If your marriage was based in the assumption that you do everything together, that needs to be clarified rather than assumed. If you needed that level of togetherness up till now but now want to branch out, help your husband understand that new need. Explain when you became aware of it, what it means to you. Listen to his reaction with acceptance. Try to converse about what assumptions you both have been living with that weren’t ever spelled out. Once they are identified and named, you both will have a chance to respond and negotiate for whatever you now realize you need. It can be very helpful and healthy for each spouse to have friends and activities separate from each other, so long as they share enough together time to satisfy each one. He may not be satiated when you go bowling without him, but he may be able to tolerate your absence if he clearly hears, experiences and understands that you still need and want him in your life. Hang in there with each other. If talking falls apart, do consult with a therapist or minister or rabbi, not Facebook or friends. Work through the issues with privacy to keep the interaction emotionally safe. Friends may handle their relationship needs very differently. But you two, by talking, will find the way that works for you. And that way will keep changing as you grow and change as individuals and as a couple. Take care, Christine Cantrell, PhD

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067

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