Recently an adult sexual health peer and I were talking about our marriages and she commented on how impressed she was by the boundaries that my spice and I have set in our relationship while being able to maintain our connection as a married couple for over twenty-five years. Not only was I was greatly humbled by her admiration, but with the coming of America’s celebration of independence from England, it reminded me just how important it is for partners in a marriage or committed long-term relationship to have enough mental and spiritual room to live as individuals in order to strengthen their bond and connection with their chosen companions.
Partners need to allow one another room for individual and independent growth in order to have successful relationships.
Becoming independent men and women with a strong sense of self is crucial to the mental well-being of all adults. Science has proven that evolution has hardwired humans for constant growth. In fact, all living creatures must be in a continuous state of growth; otherwise, they stagnate and eventually wither away.
We aren’t built to live comfortably under someone else’s control. It would be suffocating and unbearable. Everyone needs a break from time to time.
A co-dependent relationship is built on insecurity and need; the logical conclusion of which is complete instability. When both partners are continually seeking the approval of or acceptance from the other, they are ultimately handing over their own God-given endowment of free will to their partner. The dilemma that leads to the dysfunction of this type of relationship is that both partners because they are so needy of the other resort to manipulation and emotional blackmail to control each other. Unable to function in a healthy manner on their own, they seek and often demand whether overtly or covertly, completion or wholeness by taking what they need from their lover. When both partners are constantly placing these sorts of requirements on each other, one or both companions will eventually have nothing left to give.
A healthy relationship is built on mutual respect and genuine affection. When both partners are mature, capable adults they are able to choose to bring the best of themselves into the relationship for an engaged and meaningful connection. Rather than continually seeking that which they can take from their loved one, they are free to consider their own needs. Having their own needs fulfilled by their own merit encourages them to share with their chosen other sincerely and without pressure. Both partners are inspired towards self-fulfillment as well as towards mutual satisfaction.
The Freedom to Be “We”
So, how are two individuals who are adequately able to stand on their own two feet supposed to come together into the balance of a healthy partnership without losing that strong sense of self? How can we coordinate the seeming contradictions between healthy adult independence and a wholesome togetherness?
- Take full responsibility for yourself and your actions and expect your partner to do likewise.
- Allow your partner to form and maintain respectful, platonic friendships.
- Consent to giving one another time apart for separate hobbies/interests.
- Establish, respect, and maintain boundaries.
- Be honest and transparent with your chosen partner.
- Keep an open dialogue in order to foster mutual trust.
- Make informed crucial decisions together.
I find that there is something very gratifying in hearing from my spice that he doesn’t have to or need to be with me, but rather that he chooses every day to be with me. I love being his chosen.