How Much Alone Time Is Healthy in a Marriage?

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It's tempting to spend every waking moment with your spouse. (After all, you did say until death do you part — and you meant it!) But maintaining the right amount of alone time actually infuses interest and vitality into your relationship, and keeps you from getting too close to each other.

"Alone time is chance to do things that you enjoy and that bring you pleasure — to be your own person and do what you want to do with your own choices of activities and happenings aside from those of your husband," explains Dr. Jane Greer, relationship expert and author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship. "It's important because it gives you your own self-expression and identity separate from being part of the couple. It brings in a new energy to the marriage and offers new things to share and talk about with your partner."

Without it, she explains, you can lose yourself in your marriage and even begin to resent your spouse if you feel like you've lost touch with favored activities or people because of him.

"Finding a working balance between 'me' versus 'we' time can be very challenging for most couples, but is essential in finding harmony that keeps their relationship strong," Greer says. Unfortunately, there's no magic daily or weekly number that will surely satisfy your alone-time needs — different people, with different personalities, require different amounts of time alone. "It takes time to figure out and also will shift over the course of time as your work and family needs change," says Greer. "What's important is to make room for your individual needs and your joint needs along the way."

One indicator of too much alone time is if one of you begins to feel neglected, or that time together is no longer important to the other. "However, if both partners are comfortable with the balance, it's okay," Greer says. "If you're going out with your friends all the time and your partner is asking, 'What about me?' that's a situation where you want to consider why you aren't planning time with that person. The most important feeling in a marriage is for both partners to feel like they're number one to the other."

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