If you’re reading this article, it may be appropriate to assume you’re here because you are having some problems in your relationship and are seeking a way to fix things, or you’d like to learn more about how to get the most out of your relationship.
This is an admirable goal. While you may have heard many stories about the value of communication in relationships or the importance of keeping the spark alive (all worthy topics), you may not have heard much about the importance of taking breaks in a relationship.
If you’re looking for the secrets of how to ignite passion in your partner and get the most out of that flame, click here for more on that. This article is instead focused on the benefits of taking a break in a relationship.
What do we mean by this? Well, first let’s start with a story about a couple in particular.
Anne and Daniel’s marriage was on the rocks for about three years. In the first years of their marriage, things were going great, with sparks of passion flying all over the place. At some point, though, things began to sour for them as a couple. Three years went by, with things only getting worse and worse.
After those excruciating years of suffering together, neither of them could take it anymore. They had been through it all: the heated arguments caused by underlying feelings of being misunderstood; the slamming of doors that led to days of stiff communication; and the many, many tears.
The final year seemed quieter on the outside, but from within the situation was deeply saddening. They had arrived at that point where they no longer even talk to each other. After much pondering from both partners, they decided to take a break from each other for six months.
If they couldn’t iron out their differences after that period, they would file for divorce.
Daniel moved out of their matrimonial home into a small rental flat. He couldn’t remember the last time he had felt that much liberation since he got married five years ago.
“I could get used to this,” he thought to himself as he settled in.
He began to ask himself why anyone would even want to trade such convenience for all the pains that marriage brought. He was happier now than when he had been a bachelor because he appreciated what he had missed during those years of marriage.
No longer did he need to walk on eggshells around his overly sensitive wife who could take offense at any petty thing he carelessly said. He no longer needed to bend over backwards to please his wife, nor did he need to play mind-reader, which he was naturally terrible at.
Anne too was having a time of her life with her newfound freedom. She enjoyed not having to cook for two, an arrangement which they had arrived at early in their relationship that had stuck. She could order a pizza and hang out with her friends any evening without feeling like she was doing something wrong.
It was beautiful to be able to focus on herself for once, and not worry about whether she was understood.
Fast forward six months later. You would think these two happily signed divorce papers and went their separate ways, wouldn’t you?
Well, the exact opposite happened. From within their own space, both Daniel and Anne realized how much they missed the other. This stemmed from the self-love and reflection that caused them to realize their mistakes.
Having space from one another caused them to re-evaluate their lives, what they wanted, and their own behaviour. When they were too deep into arguments and resentment for each other, this was all too clouded to see. With some time alone, the realisations came with time, as did the reminder of the love they had for each other.
After much introspection, both Daniel and Anne realized that they had selfishly expected too much from their significant other and were now ready to rectify that. On coming back together, one of the things they agreed on was that, while they would care for each other, they would both be responsible for their own happiness.
The couple demonstrated the power of taking a break, as opposed to quitting when the going gets tough. Many times their friends and family tried to advise them to solve their problems under the same roof like a normal married couple should, but their resolve was unshakable and that worked out well for them.
The space they had to reflect got them thinking of the reasons they got married in the first place.
We all need that from time to time: space away from everyone else to dig deep into the reasons why we do what we do. It may be a business venture that you enthusiastically started but has grown to be a burden to you. It might be a hobby or artistic endeavour that you struggle with writer’s block.
Or it could be a relationship, like Daniel and Anne.
Sometimes all you need is to award yourself time away to search for the crucial answers from within.
In the story of Anne and David, it could have gone a different way. things could have ended with divorce, but a divorce not of animosity, but one of mutual agreement and respect. It’s important to know that not all things can go back to the way they were; sometimes they’re better left in the past, as a beautiful memory.
In David and Anne’s case, they could have realized they weren’t right for each other and decided to go ahead with the divorce after all. It might sound sad, but this would have been a good outcome, because it would have served to set them free from the painful stagnant state of forcing a partnership that wasn’t working out.
With time, they would both find love again and be grateful for all that they experienced together and learned from each other. Sometimes we take a break not to fix things, but to reflect on how to move on.
Again, looking inwards is paramount here, and that comes from the time and distance apart.
Do remember that taking breaks is useful for more than just our relationships, though. Sometimes we need a break simply because the world is so fast-paced. We need time to wind down and release some stress.
Sometimes we need a pause, a break from all the noise, a time to connect with self.
Taking a break from your stressful school work, project, or from working on your dreams is good for your mental health. It’s often in the most relaxed mode that the mind is better able to think. Too much pressure on it can lead to getting blocked, so don’t be afraid to take a refreshing walk outside, or a power nap.
Taking a break from whatever is most important to you can be the one thing you need to evaluate it all. It can help you mend, or end, a sour relationship, and it can help you to come up with new ideas regarding your career and professional life. Most of all, it helps your mental health by allowing you some much needed rest.
So do yourself a favour and go take a break.