Truth: maintaining personal space while in a relationship is possible. Suzanne Muller-Heinz dishes relationship tips for all the independent types out there.
“I can’t imagine living with someone at my age.”
“I can’t imagine sharing my space with someone.”
“I’ve been independent for so many years; how can I be a great partner?”
Sound familiar? If this is you, welcome to the Independence Club! If you are out there and are someone who is individualistic, perhaps you can’t imagine being in a relationship or married. The good news is that being independent and in a relationship is possible. This article is for you.
Sometimes, I love being smothered, pampered, adored and catered to by my husband. Other times, I want a 10-foot pole between us. From time to time, I find myself screaming inside, thinking, “Leave me alone. I don’t need you. Stop smothering me!”
It’s a constant battle. I have been independent and on my own pretty much my whole life. I paid all of my bills myself for about 41 years. I lived alone most of that time. I had two short live-in engagement situations and a few roommates, but mostly, I was by myself. I just didn’t know anything different.
Before getting married, my view of relationships was that I would be trapped and stuck. I didn’t want to get into a partnership if I was going to lose myself. I didn’t want to get into a relationship if I was going to lose my freedom. From the beginning, I made sure our relationship felt free and unconstrained
Even today, part of me wants to run for the hills; however, my heart knows the pros definitely outweigh the cons. A true partnership is one of the most beautiful things in the world; yet, I still have a tendency to behave as if I were alone.
Let me explain how I’ve mostly overcome this, to enjoy my healthy relationship and extraordinary love life.
Just because I am married now doesn’t mean it’s easy. I am learning every day about how to be a real partner—surrendering and blending our lives together. Mostly, I’m discovering how to be half of a couple, a WE instead of a me.
This is some of what I’ve learned:
1. Me time.
Honestly, I love my alone time. I crave it, enjoy it and need it. Why? It allows me some time to think and listen to my subconscious. I get to pamper myself, exercise and just be with my thoughts. Although my husband and I spend tons of time together, I require time to myself to rejuvenate, miss him and love myself so I have more love to give. “Me time” requires asking for and scheduling it.
Money conversations in my family never went well. I have paid my own bills my entire life. No one came to my rescue me if I didn’t have enough money to pay a bill or ran a little short. Well, Mom did occasionally, but no one regularly said, “Hey let me get that for you.” I did it all. Now that I am married, we keep our money separate. We do have a combined credit card, which is good practice for sharing finances and we have discussed the option of a joint bank account. Right now it just feels more comfortable to keep our money in our own accounts.
3. Receiving gifts.
My husband is incredibly generous. He freely gives me money here and there and takes me shopping often. He’s always asking, “Do you need anything in that store?” A man who wants to take me shopping and doesn’t expect anything in return? Are you kidding me? This experience is new. I have to learn a new skill for it. It’s a little uncomfortable from time to time, but I continue to say “yes,” thanking him and allowing him the joy he receives from showering his wife with gifts and seeing her happier.
4. Doing things my way.
Because I’ve been on my own for a very long time, I have gotten used to a certain routine. I would even say I can be a little messy. My husband is very clean, so I feel like a slob compared to him. This independent lady has to speak up and say, “I need to do things my way sometimes.” It may sound funny, but it works. Maybe it’s my way of feeling free. Although I appreciate his tidiness, there are times I leave the house a mess just to do things my way. I don’t do it to be defiant or to make him or myself wrong. When you’ve lived alone as long as I have, there are times to be clean and times to let it all hang out. He understands and lets me be my messy self. It feel good every once in a while!
5. Learning new stuff and asking questions.
My fierce independent ways pop up the most when my husband is trying to teach me something I am not familiar with. When he is teaching me, I struggle to be patient with myself and learn because I feel like I should know it already. Mrs. Independence does not like not knowing or feeling dumb! My husband is extremely nice about explaining things. In fact, he is like a saint. I’ve had to learn is how to ask for help and not see it as a sign of weakness. I’m discovering it’s really a sign of intellect. My husband loves contributing and I have to be careful that my independence does not cause him to back away. I am better now at asking for help when needed. I have a ways still to go, but being a couple while being independent is possible.
If you’re afraid to get into a relationship, or to be married because you fear your independence will get in the way, I understand. There is nothing to fix about you. If you have a fantastic partner who loves you for you, you can work together. It will take time, practice, communication and patience on both sides, but that’s okay. It’s alright to be independent and in a very fulfilling relationship!
[image: via deveion acker on flickr]