Growing up, all you wanted was to become independent. Until, one day, you fell in love. Suddenly independence didn’t feel nearly so important, as you discovered how wonderful it is to be really close to another adult.
But there’s a downside to intimacy because you can easily lose yourself in a relationship. This can happen if you start measuring your worth by how your partner treats you, for example. Or if you become scared to show your partner the real you. Or if you’re constantly compromising your needs to meet your partner’s demands. Or if you get lazy now you’re in a relationship and start letting your partner take the lead in everything.
This means that every couple needs to learn how to balance their intimacy with their individuality. Because it’s only couples who get that right who’re truly happy together. It means learning a whole new set of skills and unlearning lots of old singles habits. Not easy, especially for couples who marry later. Because they’ve grown so used to being completely independent.
So, successful couples learn to speak up and express their opinions, while also appreciating their differing perspectives. Because good couples are as different as they are similar: sharing some attitudes and not others.
They also develop habits that help them stay close, like small talk over a cup of tea as soon as you’re both home in the evening. Or 30 minutes snacking and chatting together on the couch after the children are in bed. No TV, no phones. Just affection and a relaxing conversation.
Successful couples also go to bed together, at the same time every day. Because that creates an intimate ritual that strengthens the connection between you.
They also realize that they don’t need to be in constant communication. All that texting was fun to begin with, but you each also need time to yourself during your day. Being together is wonderful, but you should both feel able to spend time alone. Like over an early morning coffee, just enjoying the silence.
Each one of you is also entitled to retain some privacy. So, resist the urge to pry into each other’s stuff. Keep up with your interests, and encourage your partner to do the same. Maintain your relationships with family and friends, and let your partner do the same. Be alone some of the time, because you’ll have completely different conversations without your spouse.
Above all, remember that no matter how good a partnership you have, true happiness comes from within. Not even the best of relationships can meet all your needs. So, when that happens, meet them yourself.
And if something goes wrong, make sure you’re not the one who needs to change before blaming your partner. Because the responsibility for making a success of your life will always be yours — as is the responsibility for not losing yourself in the relationship. Keep your individuality intact, no matter how close you become, and both of you will be happier for it.