While some couples struggle to squeeze in a few minutes each day to spend together, other couples rarely spend any time apart. On average, American married couples spend just over four hours together per day, of which only about one hour is alone time, according to the Supporting Healthy Marriage Evaluation. Many couples, like those who work together or who are retired, may share significantly more time together. However, spending all your time together may actually hurt your marriage.
May Lead to Boredom
Spending too much time together prevents people from growing individual interests and friendships. A lack of interests outside the relationship leads to boredom, according to the Wall Street Journal's 2012 interview with Terri Orbuch, a psychologist and research professor at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research. Orbuch's research found that 11.5 percent of unhappy couples cited a lack of privacy as the main reason for their relationship dissatisfaction. When couples spend time developing their own interests privately, they bring more excitement and passion into the relationship.
Can't Meet All Needs
Although your spouse should be able to meet most of your emotional needs, it is impossible one person to meet all of your needs. It is healthy for each partner to have friends and family who can help meet their unmet needs. For example, if a husband enjoys hiking and his wife does not, the husband will likely benefit from finding friends who share his passion. Spending time apart to meet can ensure that your needs are being met, which can help you become a better partner to your spouse.
Happy and healthy couples find a balance between independence and over-dependence. Couples who spend all their time together risk becoming over-dependent on one another. Over-dependent couples depend on one another for their personal happiness, according to researchers and professors at Brigham Young University on the Forever Families website. When a person becomes over-dependent on a spouse for happiness, it can lead to feelings of weakness and powerlessness. It can also lead to resentment when one spouse carries the burden of the other partner's happiness.
Quality Vs. Quantity of Time
When it comes to the health of your marriage, the quality of time you spend together may be more important than the quantity. Participating in fun activities together as a couple helps couples stay together. Couples who share leisure activities report higher rates of marital satisfaction during the first five years of marriage, and then again after 18 years of marriage, according to the Utah Marriage Commission's Stronger Marriage website. Spend quality time together by participating in leisure activities that you both enjoy to help reduce stress and strengthen your marriage.
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Amy Morin has been writing about parenting, relationships, health and lifestyle issues since 2009. Her work appears in many print and online publications, including Mom.me and Global Post. Morin works as a clinical therapist and a college psychology instructor. Morin received her Master of Social Work from the University of New England.
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