When two people are married they become one. It may take years to master this connection, or it may come soon after you say "I do". It is essential for a married couple to learn to function together. To make compromises, join assets, and work as a unit for solving problems and making decisions. But, it is also important that the two people in the marriage do not become so united that they lose their independence.

A person's individual personality, likes, dislikes and hobbies are what make up who they are and the person their spouse fell in love with. If we lose those traits, we may lose ourselves. So how do you maintain the balance of connecting with your spouse yet not lose your independence? Here are some ideas.

Keep in touch with your friends

We all have friends we made before we were married. It may be hard to keep those friends once the wedding is over, especially if they are still single.

There usually is at least one friend though that even through moving, life changes and marriages, you stay close. Hold on to that friend. Make time for just the two of you to hang out, even if it is only once every couple of months, and encourage your spouse to keep his or her friends as well. While you will make new friends as a couple, those few friends who knew you before you were married are important to reminding you who you are and will always be on your side when you (nicely) vent about your significant other.

Have your own hobby

It is important to have similar likes as your spouse, and to have things you both like to do together, but it is okay to have your own hobbies as well. Running, photography, video games, crafts, playing an instrument or flying model airplanes are just a few of the things that you can do on your own.

Having your own hobby maintains your individual likes. As long as your hobby is not taking too much time from your loved one or causing problems, then it's healthy to keep up on your activity.

Flourish in your career

Our careers make up a large part of who we are. Whether you are an accountant, counselor or even a stay-at-home mom, you can flourish in your career. If you work away from home, your co-workers will get to know you away from your spouse. You will be known as an individual instead of a couple. This does not give you permission to act as if you are not married, but it is a place to let your abilities shine independently. If you work with your spouse then take the opportunity to show your strengths in the work place despite having a personal relationship with someone you work with.

Have your own opinion

Some couples who are together long enough start to think a lot alike. They form similar opinions and find themselves agreeing a lot. There is nothing wrong with this, as long as are not losing yourself in the process. Make sure your voice is being heard. Challenge your spouse, start a discussion and say what you truly think about something. Disagreeing does not mean you are fighting, it just means you have a different point of view.

Make alone time

Alone time is vital in any relationship. Being alone allows us to reflex, relax and think about our lives, relationships and thoughts. These moments can allow us to miss our spouse and realize how important they are in our lives. Alone time also allows us to work on our personal tasks, catch up on TV shows our spouse doesn't like, and even plan surprises for our significant other. Make sure you have some alone time each week and take the time to reconnect with yourself.

It is wonderful to have someone to spend the rest of your life with. They share your most cherished memories. But it is also important to maintain your own independence as well.

This does not mean having a separate bank account or having parts of your life your spouse knows nothing about. Celebrate the aspects of yourself that you brought into marriage, and the parts of you that you enjoy doing with our without your spouse's involvement. Blending those independent aspects with your marriage can actually benefit your relationship rather than sabotage it.

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