5 Ways to be Independent While Maintaining a Strong Relationship.

Via on Jun 6, 2013

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Last month I launched a new weekly podcast series featuring real conversations with some of the most progressive people I know.

I felt interviewing my own friends—many of whom live very full lives—just didn’t get down deep enough into who they really are or address the matters that concern them on a daily basis; therefore the idea of reconnecting with everyone, having an intimate conversation and sharing it with anyone who wanted to listen in, was very appealing.

Not surprisingly, when one goes deep, core themes emerge. One of the most popular topics, as you can imagine are relationships. Though I haven’t had the opportunity to edit together a collage of thoughts around the theme, one of the most successful discussions to date was model Kate Dillon’s thoughts around maintaining one’s independence whilst being married with children.

As a strong, independent woman, I recognize the need for autonomy in my own life—in and out of a romantic relationship. And as a close friend of Kate’s—who is, by the way, another self-reliant, freethinking individual—I couldn’t help but inquire about how she is managing now being a wife and mother.

“I am still working through the transition,” she confided. “[I realized] we had to be partners and get past the love part. The love part becomes the foundation you rely on when things get tough.”

After the conversation, we came up with five ways how one can be autonomous while maintaining a strong relationship. Ironically, I feel that preserving some of your independence only gives a relationship more strength, spontaneity and longevity.

5. Take a time out.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed in a relationship, particularly if you are spending your time tending to the needs of other people and forgetting your own. When you identify this happening, do yourself a favor and take a time out.

“It’s funny because I used to give my son a time out,” says Kate. But what she realizes is that she often needs to give herself a break.

Go read a book, take a walk in the park, get a massage, or even take a hot shower to have some quiet time.

4. Don’t forget your friends.

How many times have you heard friends complain that they never see you anymore ever since you’ve been hitched?

The strong bonds you build along the way with your friends are one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself in life. After all, whom can you turn to if the waters get a little turbulent with your significant other? Make the time for close friends—even if it’s a day a week.

A girl’s or guy’s night out may just be the recipe for a successful relationship in the long run.

3. Have your own hobbies.

As much as it is important to have activities that you do with one another, it is also vital to maintain your own sense of self through activities that speak to your individuality. Perhaps you and your counterpart love to run together, but he or she can’t stand yoga. That’s okay.

Explore the activities that bring you together and don’t be afraid to continue to do the ones that give you a sense of self.

2. Have some alone time.

Beyond taking a time out, it is important to give yourself an extended vacation from life once in a while. “I need a lot of time by myself to recharge,” Kate admits.

This may mean taking a retreat away to another city or training for a triathlon or half-marathon, which gives one an extended amount of time to let one’s mind wander.

1. Communicate openly.

Communicating openly with your loved one is far and away the most important aspect to the health and longevity of any relationship. Even if he or she doesn’t see eye-to-eye all the time, there is an undeniable power behind telling your counterpart when you feel as if you need time away.

This will only add to a deeper understanding of your needs and oftentimes result in a compromise that you can both agree on.

 

Click here to view the full length of the conversation with Kate Dillon.

 

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Ed: Bryonie Wise

{Photo: via Michele on Pinterest}

About Summer Rayne Oakes

Summer Rayne Oakes is a model-activist working on reforestation and artisan training efforts through the Mezimbite Forest Centre in Mozambique and Sub-Saharan Africa. She is also the co-founder of Source4Style, a sustainable materials marketplace, advisory board member of Phytotrade, and has currently released a weekly video series entitled SUMMER RAYNE OAKES Conversations, highlighting discussions with cool people on what matters most. She is featured in this year’s Pirelli Calendar shot by Steve McCurry of Afghan Girl fame. You can follow her journeys and personal musings on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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6 Responses to “5 Ways to be Independent While Maintaining a Strong Relationship.”

  1. laydipahukumaa says:

    Wonderful article! And so very true! From a psychological standpoint, often times couples try to spend -more- time together when things get rough; marriage counselors will suggest finding hobbies to do away from each other. Spending time apart allows you the time and space to work through a lot of those issues, and often times allows room for missing one another!

  2. birdsongsandbutterflies says:

    great article!

  3. lisab says:

    Do you think it's possible that independence or autonomy as we define it in our culture is highly overrated? No one makes it alone. If anything, I think people need to work on really connecting with others. Not trying to stay so separate. Also, gendered party nights? Blech.

  4. erinkmac says:

    Agreed on the above, especially the part about this ironically making a relationship stronger. In line with that, I believe that it's important to give these gifts to each other, and hold the sort of space so both halves are supporting the other to have the independence they need to make the whole stronger.

  5. Rachel says:

    I totally agree with this article. The great Kahlil Gibran said, "Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you." When you love your own company and take time , care and love for/of yourself, it opens up for even more love to flow in with your significant other.

  6. chloethurlow1 says:

    The most important tip here, and which I subscribe to completely, is do mot neglect your own friends. There is a tendency for women to get swept up in the life of a man – then, if you have neglected your friends and you break up with the guy, you are left totally alone, abandoned, bereft.

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