The Importance of Alone Time

I was asked several times yesterday, “How does it feel to be married?” I tried to think of what to say, and I explained it the best way I could understand the change. It’s like a date that never ends. In many ways, it does feel that way.

Since we didn’t live together before marriage, as we wanted to save it for marriage, I’m still getting used to the idea that neither of us is going home at 10PM. We are home.We don’t have to plan watching a movie that night or eating out and feeling as if we’re not spending enough time together. During the last six years, we’ve scheduled most of our time together because it was limited. Add wedding planning and finishing my M.Ed to the schedule and if we didn’t plan together time, it didn’t happen. Now that we’re in the same space daily, the pressure of togetherness should be lifted. But it’s not.

In the newness of marriage, I still find myself trying to mentally catalog what we’re doing and attempting to maximize every second. Dating for six years and living an hour apart will do that to you. But what I noticed yesterday on my hour commute to our new home was that I had placed an unnecessary expectation on myself to spend every moment together. I began to get a bit edgy and felt almost claustrophobic which was very odd because this is what I wanted, right? I wanted to be able to come home to each other everyday, curl up with each other everyday with our cats, Sherlock and Watson, and spend that time together…everyday!

In reality, what I craved as an unmarried woman, perpetual couple time, has become a mindset that made me hesitant to ask for what I really needed: me time. I didn’t really want to ask for alone time because somewhere in me I felt I was being a bad newlywed. You know, the stereotypes for newlyweds are that you spend copious amounts of time together, and it doesn’t get old or overwhelming. Seeing me start to panic, my husband asked me if I just wanted a hour or two where I could just stay in bed and do what I did as a single woman, curl up with Sherlock and watch my Korean Dramas, and he would do what he did as a bachelor, play his sports games on the PS4. While there was still a tinge of guilt because I didn’t want him to feel like I was rejecting him, I shed a few tears of relief.

During the hour and a half I spent cuddled up with Sherlock, in the same position with him curled under my arm and a laptop on my lap that we’ve always had, I breathed a sigh of relief and also allowed the invisible but very real expectation to fall to the floor. Later as we were drifting off to sleep, he told me that he couldn’t really enjoy the game too much because he was tired but was happy I had time to decompress. I realized he understood my feelings and respected them enough to sit in the living room and play a game he couldn’t fully enjoy because I needed time.

Our personal needs hadn’t changed with marriage, but there was an unspoken expectation of spousal duties that barred us from communicating our individual needs. What also hasn’t changed is how well we know each other and understand one another’s needs. Now we make an effort to not only spend quality time together but also to spend our time on ourselves when needed without any feelings of inadequacy, even if it’s only an hour a day.

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