Meeting and marrying my husband was one of the best things that ever happened to me. We are a near perfect match of imperfect people with similar political, social, and parenting points of view (and a love for Thai food, 90's alternative music, cheap wine, and good beer). As much as I enjoy spending time with him, I have found that I need to also have time to myself and a keep firm grip on who I am. There are many simple ways I maintained my independence in my marriage that have made all the difference.
Little things like watching the shows I want to on Netflix, having my own friends and hobbies, and not being afraid to communicate my needs, wants, likes, and dislikes, even if they are different from his. We try to always be honest (sometimes to a fault) with each other and ourselves about what we value and what we need to be happy, healthy, and satisfied in our marriage, and there are a few things that about which we aren't willing to compromise.
This is markedly different than my last marriage, where I spent too long and worked too hard to help him succeed while simultaneously losing a good part of who I wanted to be in the process. Now, for me, my partner, and for our kids, we do things differently. A good relationship is one where you can each do the things you love (like singing karaoke and playing video games) and come home to snuggle after, feeling happy that your partner got to do something they enjoy, not feeling jealous that they did it without you.
Here are just a few ways I have maintained independence in my marriage, which actually have helped us grow closer together.
I Have My Own Hobbies
I run long distances. It's one of my favorite things, and while my husband also likes to run, for me, running is a solitary activity: time just for me to be badass and not worry about anything other than the rush of blood through my veins and air in my lungs. So we do our own thing.
Same goes for gardening and home improvement projects. I also really enjoy engaging in debates on the internet. I have learned the hard way that my husband hates conflict, so I don't always bring him into these discussions. Not because I am afraid he will disagree with me, but because it stresses him out even if we agree. 2017 is going to be a long year.
I Compromise And Don't Compromise
There are many things about which I am willing to compromise and some things I'm not. Like the direction of the toilet paper roll (under, always under) and the side of the bed I sleep on. I jest. I am willing to consider my husband's views on just about anything, but not compromise my own values about parenting, childbearing, religion, politics, family, etc. These are the things that make me who I am, and important discussions we had before getting married.
I Listen To My Own Music
This is a little thing, but after being forced to attend Metallica, Korn, AC/DC, and Phish concerts with high school boyfriends, I will never again pretend to like music that I hate for a significant other. Life is just too short. We do have one music-related ground rule — we must sing along to Bohemian Rhapsody when it comes on.
Even though we could probably survive on one income, I would whither away without regular human contact. So I teach yoga and fitness classes in the evening and write from home during the day. It keeps me happy and sane and feeds my extrovert side.
I Don't Ask Permission
Some people ask their partners before they get their hair cut or colored or buy a badass pair of shoes. Nope. Not I. Not unless it's expensive.
(And, for the record, I offer him the same freedom.)
I Have My Own Friends
I consider my spouse to be one of my best friends, and while we do share many friends, we also have our own. It's not necessary for us to be friends with everyone our spouse has accumulated over the years.
I Set Boundaries
Whether it's with my time or in the bedroom, I've learned how to gently set boundaries with my spouse and to listen for and respect his.
I Don't Pretend To Like Things That I Hate
Seriously. Life is so much easier when you don't have to spend all of your weekends at martial arts events or watching football. We share many mutual interests, but I'm not afraid to tell him I hate one of his likes and vice versa.
I Watch TV By Myself
When I want to watch Gilmore Girls, but he wants to watch Battlestar Galactica, we watch our own thing, because we aren't four and we have more than one media device.
I Let Him Do His Own Thing
Part of maintaining independence is understanding that your partner deserves the same in return. We are both happier and probably love each other more when we get time to ourselves.