Living with someone you love doesn’t mean you need to see them every waking minute. Sometimes you just need your own space, which is what recently fed my desire for an office. Sure, prior to making space for one, my only options were computing from the couch, or while crammed into a corner of the living room, but ultimately, I needed a place just for me and my stuff.
Things came to a head when I was forced to turn the music up, in order to drown out the sound of crunching. All I could focus on while trying to work was the crunching coming from the couch beside me. This is when it dawned on me that I could no longer work from the living room for fear of losing it on my boyfriend for the heinous crime of consuming snack food. Its common space, for god’s sake, what was my problem? But at the time, it felt like an invasion of my work area.
That little episode got me thinking about my need for space, and wondering if it was OK. So I reached out to Tina B. Tessina, PhD, (aka “Dr. Romance”) psychotherapist and author of Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, for some advice.
“Whatever amount of closeness or distance is comfortable for you, even if it’s different from your partner’s preference, is OK,” she explains. “There is no right or wrong amount of personal space.”
That’s good to know, because we have since converted a corner of our bedroom into an office, separated by a dividing screen, decked out with all my work-at-home essentials, and I already feel more productive and better about our living situation.
Dr. Tessina explains that where problems can arise is when couples don’t recognize needing space is natural and normal, and that it’s OK to have different personal space requirements. “If one of you thinks there’s a rule about how close a couple should be, or how much privacy one should have, then struggles can arise.”
When space-based tension comes up in your relationship, understanding, communication and compromise are key to alleviating the problem, explains Dr. Tessina. There are many creative ways to meet different needs, and she provides a few below:
- If your partner needs more alone time than you do, go out for dinner with friends (or join a club, hit the gym, etc.) one or two nights a week, while your partner stays home.
- If your partner wants to discuss the relationship a lot, and you don’t like to, agree to 30 minute discussions of the relationship once a week, which honors your partner’s need for discussion, and has a limit you can manage.
- If you want lots of friends and family around, and your partner is uncomfortable with groups, negotiate to spend some time alone with your family, or have your family over when your partner isn’t home.
It’s often surprising for couples to realize that the intimacy that comes with a relationship can be a problem, Dr. Tessina explains. But accepting that you and your partner may have differing needs for personal space is the most important step in overcoming this hurdle. And if all else fails, you can always build a separate space for yourself all together, like I did!
Try These DiscoveryGames – discover yourself and your partner on a sexual, emotional and intellectual level and have fun while doing it.
Tantalizing Tokii Reads – to make relationship work into fun.
Touch base with Tokii. Get Together. Get Talking. Get Intimate. Join Tokii Today! Like Tokii on Facebook, Follow us on Twitter. Get inspired with Tokii Pinterest, Get a behind the scenes look at Tokii on Instagram.