We always hear about needing “alone time” also known as “recharge time” and “relaxing time.” However, this can always look completely different for different people. Does it really need to be ALONE time? What constitutes as recharge time? This becomes more complicated when you add in a spouse or partner who has a very different idea of “down time.” Taking time for yourself can be very important. In our busy lives, relaxing is something we all need to do. But how do we balance work, a relationship, and relaxing time? How do we do this without causing tension and resentment in the relationship?
TUNE IN TO YOUR NEEDS
Everyone recharges differently. For some, alone time may mean a quiet night in watching TV, baking, taking a bath, listening to music, playing computer/video games, reading, etc. For others, alone time may include wanting to get drinks with friends, calling up a friend, dinner with their spouse or partner, exercise, getting a massage, getting their nails done, etc. In my work, I have found it often depends whether someone is an introvert or an extrovert. Although this doesn’t necessarily determine one’s recharge style, it often influences it. Extroverts tend to recharge amongst those close to them – they feel more at ease spending time with or physically being around others and doing activities that involve others. Introverts, on the other hand, prefer activities where they can be by themselves and spend some time with their thoughts. Recharge time can also depend on your job and the demands that you face daily. At times, those who spend much of their work day around other people and talking a lot may need some quiet time when they get home. Those who do more independent work may want some social time when they get home. It is important to tune in to what you need and what your alone time looks like. It may vary day to day; it may be the same every day. Recognize what suits you.
UNDERSTAND YOUR PARTNER’S NEEDS
How does your partner recharge? Pay attention to activities that they tend to do after work or when they come home. There is probably a certain pattern since humans are creatures of habit. It is important to recognize what kind of alone time they need. If they tend to exercise after work to relieve stress, encourage their habits. If they tend to play video games, watch TV, or want to read, allow them an hour or so to have the time that they need engaging in an activity on their own. If they tend to want to talk to you or a friend after work, open up a safe space for them to unwind and express their feeling and thoughts regarding their day. It is important to respect their needs.
But what happens when one partner feels that the other one is not respecting their needs or isn’t having their personal needs met? Say one partner wants to read while the other partner wants to talk. Say one partner has spent several hours playing video games while the other partner wanted to have dinner with them. Although it is important to respect your partner’s needs for relaxing and recharging, it is also important to recognize one another’s needs for spending time together. Perhaps one night, one partner cuts down on their time with friends while the other partner cuts down on time listening to music and taking a bath. Finding an extra 30 minutes in your evening to connect and recharge WITH your partner can have many benefits. It can allow for more emotional intimacy and communication in the way that you each get to catch up on the other one’s day, discuss what is going on in life, and connect with one another. I can allow for more physical intimacy as well.
Alone time can be important, but too much alone time can cause tension in a relationship. Tapping in to your personal needs, understanding your partner’s needs, and learning to compromise can lead to more harmony, balance, and happiness in a relationship.