Can you take a break from marriage?

I saw “Sex and the City 2” today and a certain proposal brought up by Big (who, incidentally, is not referred to as “Big” in the whole movie) to Carrie regarding their marriage got me thinking.

**Mild Spoiler Alert**

Even though Carrie and John (Big’s actual name) have a wonderful place together, she has kept her old apartment because the housing market is so tough right now. She occassionally goes there to work, check in on the place and visit her old clothes. Carrie had been feeling a little bored with their tw0-year marriage, and she and John have a slight tiff about it. She decides she needs a breather, so she heads over to her old apartment early in the morning. When John awakes, he calls her when he reads her note (she said she would be working at the apartment). As they talk, Carrie tells him she wants to just stay at the apartment and focus solely on writing the article she was working on; no distractions. She says it will only be for two days and she’ll be home when she’s finished. John calls her on the second night, asking her when she could be ready for dinner – he was downstairs. Suddenly, the “sparkle” is back in their marriage – they have a wonderful dinner date and an even better dessert at home.

After the success of their time apart, John brings up the idea to Carrie that they make the “break” a routine – two days and nights apart from each other each week. His theory: absence makes the heart grow fonder, and their time alone could be spent doing all the things the other person doesn’t like to do. Carrie is horrified. Her theory: two days will turn into four, then suddenly they no longer see each other and he wants out of their marriage.

**END Spoiler Alert**

This whole scenario got me to thinking: can you really take a break from marriage? I’m not talking a “break” like a separation, I’m talking a break in the sense of the movie – just time apart from each other where you can do your own thing, alone. I can see both sides of the coin – on one hand, it’s wonderful to have time to yourself and to just be alone for a bit; on the other hand, what if you decide you like your alone time more than you like your married time and suddenly the break turns into something more permanent?

The hubs and I have a lot of things in common; however, we also find pleasure in a great many things the other doesn’t particularly enjoy. For example, hubby is an active, outdoors kind of person. He enjoys running, biking and swimming. He loves yard work and outdoor projects. I think of exercise as a punishment most of the time. And because of my allergies, the outdoors and I don’t really get along too much. I love to lose myself in hours of TV or a great book. Hubs hates sitting in front of the TV, and while he does read, he feels the need to share every bit of interesting/funny/confusing information with me, making it impossible for me to focus on what I’m reading.

And while I love spending time with him, I also love my quiet, alone time. Time where I get to watch mindless TV, page through my magazines, read a good book, blog, peruse the internet or even just nap. I grew up with a lot of siblings and I shared a bedroom most of my life; I didn’t get a lot of quiet, alone time. I crave “me” time; it relaxes me and gives me an opportunity to recharge my batteries. I enjoy not having to compromise with hubby on what “we” want to do, instead of what I want to do. I like having the option of not speaking to someone for hours on end. Is there anything wrong with that?

Even though I truly love my “breaks”, where I can do my own thing and not have to bother with hubs, I wonder, could I do it for two days every week? I’m sure I could. We were in a long-distance relationship for several years (read about it) so we are used to spending days, weeks and months apart from each other. But since we’ve gotten married, I feel like it’s different now. The hubby travels for work, so I’ve had a taste of spending days and nights without him and I realize it’s not the same as it was in high school or college. I miss him on a deeper level than I did then. Initially I enjoy my time alone, but its appeal soon fades. I want to share my day with him. I want to go to bed at night and have him lying there beside me.

So it’s a delicate balance. Every couple needs their space and their alone time, or else they risk the possiblity of having no identity outside of their marriage. But in order for a marriage to work, the couple needs to spend plenty of time together, or else they risk the possibility of losing their identity as a couple. I propose instead of taking “breaks” from marriages, we all learn to take some “timeouts” instead – a quick breather to do what you want to do, relax and recharge, but short enough that your marriage doesn’t suffer.

PS – I totally want to be Carrie Preston (nee Bradshaw). Minus the relationship ups and downs.

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4 Responses to Can you take a break from marriage?

  1. Sara says:

    Yeah, we struggle with this too. Keith loves being alone and I really love spending every moment I can with him. We have wildly different interests that sometimes conflict. I think that’s one of the tricks about marriage – the balancing act of “quality time.”

  2. meghanmuses says:

    Agreed, Sara. Hubs and I definitely struggle with it, but I’m usually the one who needs the alone time. The whole balancing act is something we’re working on, but it’s also a learning process and we’re still figuring out what does and doesn’t work for us.

  3. As someone who isn’t married, I can’t really speak with knowledge about the whole separation issue – so instead I’ll focus on something else. They never refer to him as Mr. Big?

    Really?!

    Because that just isn’t right.

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