“And ever has it been known that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.” Khalil Gibran’s beautiful lines capture the essence of what we’re talking about today. A lot of people wonder if taking time apart in a relationship is a good idea. Does absence truly make the heart grow fonder? Is time apart good for a relationship? Does time apart help a marriage? The story we have covered today certainly suggests so.
We tend to underestimate the impact our partners have on us, and distance gently shakes us by the shoulders to remind us just how important they are. A healthy relationship reduces stress and increases our chances of a longer life. Our partners are sources of emotional, sexual, and spiritual fulfillment.
But we get so used to their presence that it’s easy to start taking our better halves for granted. We might even turn hostile toward them or become irritable. Hence, spending time apart in relationships can do the trick of making you appreciate one another all over again. Let’s hear the journey that Henry and Amanda undertook before emerging stronger together.
Taking Time Apart To Strengthen A Relationship
It’s always comforting to know that someone has stood where we are at this moment. They have walked a mile in our shoes, and have ended up okay. Maybe we will also be fine, even if the shoes are a little uncomfortable to look at. Their story can lend us hope and inspiration as we set out on our own.
You have to meet Henry and Amanda just once to know that they’re a team. And an unbeatable one at that. Coming across a couple that is so in tune with each other is admirable (not to mention rare). I knew that I had to get their story out there because it truly reaffirmed my belief in love after marriage. I’ve asked myself, “Is time apart good for a relationship?” In their story, I found the answer.
After some convincing, and promises of confidentiality, Henry sat down with me over cappuccinos and narrated how they’d ended up where they were. While I initially wanted to write about the solid marriage they had built, his story took me in a new direction. He kept saying how taking time apart to strengthen a relationship is a wonderful idea that he recommends.
And spending time apart in the relationship had helped them considerably…So here is the story that gave me a refreshing perspective on romance, and I’m hoping it does the same for you too!
Henry talks about their beginnings…
Both designers, we fell in love in college. Two years into dating, we kick-started our design firm. She created content, while I did the graphic design. We were excited, driven, and had the skill set to know that we would succeed, it was just a matter of time.
At night, my tiny one-bedroom was our love nest, and during the day, our workstation. When we landed our 40th client we moved out of our apartment and into rented premises. That was the day I proposed to her, and she said yes, yes, and yes. I remember how we celebrated with a bottle of champagne and some garlic bread.
At the office, we were a team of 5 and growing. Both Amanda and I are strong-headed, so sparks flew, but we suppressed our egos for the company’s good. And both of us worked our asses off!
A normal working day was about 13-14 hours long. But we couldn’t complain. Our company was in the seventh year, our marriage in the fourth year, and work poured in from all quarters. It seemed surreal that we were refusing clients every week. We were on a roll and taking time apart in a relationship was something we’d have laughed at back then.
We wanted to expand our team so that we could take in more work, but we couldn’t find the right skill set and synergy; this wasn’t California or New York. And then Amanda started complaining of fatigue, sleep deprivation, joint pains.
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And things went downhill
I didn’t get it. We were already short-handed. Isn’t there a time and place for everything? I wanted to tell her that we really couldn’t afford it right now. Besides, I was taking the clients’ fire. I was very unhappy. She was unhappier, both with herself and me!
The more she pushed herself, the more irritable she became, and the more errors her final copies had. We had to invest in a proofreader, an expense we could have easily avoided. She revealed, months later, that this was when she had first considered taking time apart to strengthen the relationship.
We carried the work stress to our bedroom and the bedroom stress to our work! She accused me of not understanding while I accused her of blaming me. We couldn’t stop fighting and got into a bad cycle, with no respite from each other. (But then I wasn’t familiar with the concept of taking time apart in a relationship.)
Once we got the diagnosis, I understood that she had a rare condition that does not allow the mind and body any rest. So even if she lay down and closed her eyes, her body wouldn’t go into the automatic rest and repair mode as ours do. Her mind and body would keep working, and hence the exhaustion and severe irritability.
It was time to take a break…Our time apart in the relationship
While we had a logical explanation, it did not solve our practical issues. We had deadlines, heaped work, flaring tempers and resignations! Amanda moved to Jersey City, for none of the doctors in ours had the wherewithal to deal with her condition.
I stayed back; I didn’t have the luxury to shut shop and help her in her worst time. Though she understood that, I ultimately wasn’t there for her when she needed me the most.
Once she got the medication and adapted to her new lifestyle, she moved back. We tried to get back to normal but it wasn’t easy. The resentment remained that I hadn’t understood her situation before it was formally diagnosed. I should have known that something minor wouldn’t have deterred her. We couldn’t work things out.
It was her idea to live separately. I had my doubts. “Is time apart good for a marriage?” I wondered. But I moved out and into a friend’s place. And that is when it all started falling into place. That phase was when I learned how time apart in a relationship knits people closer.
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Does time apart help a marriage? Evidently so!
It was a vacuum that we both felt, acutely. We had become each other’s habit over these years. I’d take in the milk, she’d make the morning cuppa. We’d discuss newspaper headlines over tea and biscuits. The breakfast discussion would kick-start our work hours.
Blocks during work hours would be cracked over hot soup at 3 a.m. in bed, and an intimate session would be interrupted by a sudden brainwave on how to clinch a new client. Hours of the stress of bending over a computer screen would be released through foot rubs or shoulder massages.
The list seemed endless. Missing out on the little and big comforts that two people living together bring to each other was no longer trivial. Is time apart good for a relationship? Yes, because you understand what truly matters. Those 28 days of living apart made us realize that life is beautiful. Besides, it was no fun having your breakfast alone, the food just wouldn’t taste the same! And entering an empty apartment was like stabbing yourself afresh every evening.
The separation made the hitherto ‘big’ resentment seem rather stupid and inconvenient. Sometimes spending time apart in a relationship is the best gift one can give to their partner. Since that day six years ago, the farthest we have reached is the main door.
(As told to Raksha Bharadia)
(Names changed to protect identities)