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A Successful Relationship Easily Handles Time Apart


Maude at Quadra IslandMAUDE: I’ve been away for 5 days at a wonderful gathering with 30 women, called Sisters in Spirit. Just got back this morning, and Tuesday being our blog planning and forming day, Phil and I shared and looked at what is happening for both of us right now.

In relating our experiences to each other, we were struck by a similar theme. We both had a really happy and full time without the other.

Now this may seem to mean the opposite of what it does. No, we were not glad to be rid of each other! It’s just that our connection is deep and unruffled by either of us doing our own thing. Each of us was able to be fully present with the events and people we were with during our time apart. Both of us felt safe and secure – there was no sense of real separation.

Our togetherness is not fueled by needs – neither of us is looking for the other to fill holes in our lives or our being. This kind of connection enables each of us as individuals to develop and prosper, and at the same time, feeds that energy right back into our relationship.

It is indeed also important to nurture the relationship by spending time together and to create ever new shared experiences. As with most things, balance is the key.

Relationships need attention, whether this be through exploring common interests or mutual adventuring. You cannot just put them on the back burner because things are going so well. At best, they will slowly turn into golden memories, but they won’t be replenished. At worst, you will lose contact with each other and that inevitably leads to misunderstandings and estrangements.

And there we are with that grand old paradox again: the closer you are, the easier it is to spend time apart as individuals.

PHIL: Maude was away for 5 nights last week at a women’s retreat on a remote island off Vancouver, B.C. As for me, I used my new laptop to work every day on my political writing. I changed from using WriteMonkey to Scrivener. I recorded voiceover for a video about the Santa Barbara Courthouse Clock. I bought flowers at the farmers market. Delicious!

I described this to Maude when she returned and she said hearing it made her happy because it meant that if she died first, I would be alright. I don’t know about that. There’s a big difference between leaving for 5 days and leaving forever. The longer we are together, the more she feels like that comfy spot on the sofa that seems to have molded itself to my body.

Nonetheless, her point is not wrong. I have always had the exquisite sense that we are both complete already, and when we come together, we add to each other rather than completing each other. Earlier in my life, I was in a codependent relationship that felt completely the opposite; my role was to support, compliment, complement her. Everything I did was at risk of being wrong.

This completeness means that with Maude, a separation like last week is so easy because there is no sense of loss, and because of that, there is no closing down and needing to open up again when we rejoin. We flow together and apart like water.

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Successful Relationship Reading Corner

BookshelfThis week we blogged about how a successful relationship easily handles time apart. We wrote a very personal story, but here are some article on the topic time together, time apart.

Be Apart to Stay Together "No one expected the typically close-mouthed Barbra Steisand to share something so personal on Katie last month, the new TV talk show. But when Katie Couric asked her about the secret to her happy 14-year marriage to James Brolin, Barbra revealed her secret, without hesitation. Barbra and James spend time apart."

Time Together and Time Apart "In our last article we talked about how friends have a powerful effect on our marriage and our personal emotional health. Beyond providing emotional support in our time of need, spending time with others helps to strengthen our identification as a couple and make us feel connected to the world. Just as important for a successful marriage is the amount of time couples spend doing things with each other, without other couples."

Why Time Is Important in Relationships "Often times people think that the solution to every problem in a relationship is to spend more time together, more closeness.  That can actually do harm to a loving relationship.  Can you truly desire what you never miss?  Spend too much time together and contempt can block out any appreciation for your partner.  I think of it as self-induced cabin fever.  Making some time for your individual self allows you to practice self care as well as miss the people in your life that you love."


Spreading peace one relationship at a time
Phil and Maude
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