When people talk about how to make a marriage work, it’s normally focused on you two acting as a team—communicating, planning, staying connected. And being a strong couple is undeniably important. But there’s another important aspect of marital advice that’s often neglected—and that’s about keeping up your individuality. Because the key to a happy marriage might be acting, well...single once in a while.
Acting a little single, even in a relationship, is seriously underrated. You get to feel like you haven’t lost yourself in a relationship—and it can even make your marriage last longer. Marrying when slightly older is often linked to a lower divorce rate. Why? Well, one theory is that it has to do with having more security and wisdom—which is probably true. But it also could have to do with the fact that older people generally have had time to develop their own separate lives—lives that they don’t trade in as soon as they get married. Being independent and having your own life benefits you and your relationship.
Here are the reasons why acting single can be great for your marriage—and how to do it.
Friendships Make You Healthier
Being married means acting as a unit—but it shouldn’t mean acting as a unit all the time. Having separate friends (and spending time with them) is so important. In fact, studies have shown that friends really can make you healthier and happier. “A long-term study of more than 6,500 Britons found that men and women who reported having 10 or more friendships at age 45 had significantly higher levels of psychological well-being at age 50, whatever their partnership status, than people with fewer friends,” the New York Times reports. “And two recent studies of nearly 280,000 people in almost 100 countries by William Chopik of Michigan State University found that friendships become increasingly vital to well-being at older ages. Among older adults, relationships with friends are a better predictor of good health and happiness than relations with family.”
So don’t underestimate how much your friendships outside of your relationship can help your marriage.
Time Away Can Be Good For Your Relationship
And it’s not just about having separate friends—spending time away from your partner can really help. That might mean traveling solo or it might just mean having your own hobbies, but taking some time away from your spouse has a lot of benefits. Missing them reminds you of what you love about them—and you’ll have more to talk about when you see each other. Spending all of your time together means there’s nothing new to share. So if you want to add some excitement back into your relationship, try taking some time away and then swap stories—it’ll be worth it.
Independence Breeds Happiness
Plus, doing your own thing some of the time is crucial for your sense of self. You want to fulfilled by and excited about your life—and sometimes your needs are different than your partner’s. Maybe they love yoga and you just want to go out for cocktails. That’s OK—you can both get what you need if you spend a little time acting single. You’ll be happier for it—and that happiness will translate into your relationship.
It Manages Expectations
Expectations are a relationship killer—especially when it comes to marriage. It’s too easy to think that once we marry “the one” then this is the only person we need in our lives. But no one person can give you everything. It’s just not fair to expect from them and you’re bound to be disappointed. Keeping up your own life means you’re getting different needs met by different people, so your spouse can focus on what they do best—being an amazing partner.
It’s Easier Than You Think
Acting single in a relationship isn’t scary—it’s actually really fun. If you’re someone who spends a lot of time with your partner, you can start small. Go to an exercise class or a museum with friends—or pick a night where both of you socialize with different people. You’ll come back together and can have a great gossip. If you like that, you can start to dream bigger—and maybe a trip with your girlfriends or a solo excursion won’t be far behind.
Being "single" in your marriage might sound counterintuitive, but it can really work. Just because you’re now part of a unit doesn’t mean you should sacrifice your individuality—and spending all of your time together can actually hurt your marriage. You’ll lean on each other too much and, ultimately, blame each other if things go wrong. Instead, make sure that you keep yourself happy, healthy, and fulfilled. Because two happy people are what really makes a happy marriage.