Too much togetherness can be as bad for your marriage as not being connected enough.
When I wrote the article, “A Case for Separate Bedrooms”, I expected, and got, varied reactions. Some expounded on the value of personal space, while others declared that they could not bear to sleep apart from their partner — both valid positions.
However, amongst all the ayes and nays, I noticed some opinions centered on the myth that being as close to your partner as possible equals a healthy marriage, and any attempt to maintain a sense of individuality or personal space is a threat to the marriage.
In other words, if you and your partner never literally or figuratively gum-body, una never love.
One even went as far as asserting that I’m already feeling detached from my husband hence my considering separate bedrooms at all, and that I was better off returning to my parents’ house. Then when someone noted on Twitter the merits of having separate bathrooms, some went, “Why? But she’s your WIFE!” Err, what has using the same bathroom or not got to do with that one na? It would have been cute were the hidden drawbacks of being too close not so destructive.
The truth is that while many couples are dealing with a lack of closeness, others are choking in a too intense kind of intimacy. Both are unhealthy. You need your partner to share every emotion and every experience. You rely on your partner for the affirmation, unconditional love and protection you need to thrive.
You become so fused that before you know it, you can’t take simple decisions if they’re not involved. All your friends are their friends and vice versa. Activities that do not involve each other are avoided as much as possible. You depend on your partner to complete you and when they don’t deliver as expected, you’re disoriented.
“I called her and she didn’t pick my call.”
“I don’t like that he has female friends.”
“I had a nightmare and she didn’t wake up to pray with me.”
“I’m feeling down and he’s laughing at something on TV instead of feeling down with me.”
From afar, that kind of merging is attractive to many of us because we think that’s the ideal; that’s how a married couple should be, that’s how two become one. But this kind of “chingum” marriage only works for a while before one person starts to feel smothered and retreats— the very thing you’re trying to avoid. You suffocate and kill the love you’re trying to protect. Your sex life even suffers, as great sex in a monogamous relationship requires a certain level of novelty that constantly being joined at the hip and in each other’s face doesn’t leave room for.
In this kind of marriage you inevitably have one partner withdrawing eventually, pushing back, wanting space and needing to breathe. Of course this results in the other partner feeling the union is threatened, and holding on even tighter. And so it continues until an explosion, or an implosion.
It’s better to work towards balance; enough togetherness and enough individuality. Marriage does not mean throwing away the things that are important to you. Being Siamese twins is not what makes a marriage strong. Give room for individuality even as a couple.
Is your spouse your only source of love and comfort? That’s not intimacy, that’s too much responsibility to place on one person. I often say, if you don’t know how to make yourself happy, don’t marry. You should know your happy place and be able to pick yourself up.
If you’re still single, please stop waiting for someone to come and complete you. Be whole, learn how to nourish yourself, and build a robust, satisfying life. When you meet someone who has done the same — fully grown up and learnt how to be a person— you will both be able to cooperate with each other, take care of each other and have your needs met. Everybody wins!