Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Married couples also need space

Married couples also need space - by Tom Blake 2013

Last week, two couples in their 70s had lunch at Tutor and Spunky's, my Dana Point, California deli. They appeared to be having a good time and enjoying themselves. When they left, one of the men lagged behind and said, "Don't you write that dating column?" I smiled and said yes.

He said he had been married 40 years and had retired a year ago. He said he didn't properly prepare for retirement and was around the house nearly all of the time. "My wife and I are driving each other crazy," he said.

And then he added, "I've got to do something that will get me out of house."

I said, "That would be a good idea. You wouldn't want to jeopardize the marriage after all of these years."

His wife poked her head back in the door and said sternly, "Harry, we're waiting for you, let's go." He looked at me and said, "See what I mean, even that bugs me."

Not an hour later, another older gentleman named Tom said, "I like reading your dating column in the newspaper, even though I've been married to my Julie for 50 years. I've been retired 20 years. Our marriage is the best it's ever been."

I said, "Tom, how do you and Julie keep your relationship so fresh?" I told him about the comments Harry had made an hour before.

Tom said that he and Julie are both very involved in outside activities. He volunteers at the Cabrillo Playhouse in San Juan Capistrano and at Habitat For Humanity. Julie volunteers at their church and is an avid quilter.

Tom said, "For a marriage to last, there are times when you need space, to be away from each other. There is nothing negative about that."

Tom's comment made me think about couples who meet later in life and say to me they either want to be or are together 24/7. That makes me shudder. That's just not going to work. They are going to smother each other and then part ways. Everybody needs space, particularly as we get older.

Carol wrote, "Every self-help book written tells us to have a life of our own, and I thank the heavens I have followed this advice."

Yvonne shed light on why married couples may be together at home so much:  

"Fewer people attend church or temple. Fewer people socialize in other ways, like the old bowling leagues of the 1950s, for instance. Fewer people even go out to go to the movies, instead preferring to watch at home on DVD. Our homes have become so comfortable that people venture out less than they used to. If we're retired, we may not be out and about in the world as much as we were when we were still working."

There is a pretty simple lesson in today's newsletter that applies to all couples--married or otherwise, and to single people as well. To be an interesting person, each person needs to have individual interests that keep them occupied. We've all got to take a break away from each other on a regular basis, and then, when we do spend time together,  we will appreciate each other more.

Space can be nearly as precious to a relationship as time spent together.

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