This piece is reposted from the blog My Two Cents: Thoughts of a Small Town Therapist.
Sally and Rodrigo are inseparable. They are together virtually all the time. Jane and Fred have very different interests. They spend a lot of time doing their own thing. Both couples are happily married. So much for textbook formulas for happiness!
One of the most important tasks of marriage is figuring out how much time to spend together as opposed to having alone time. Everyone has different needs and expectations. This can be a big problem when one spouse has lots of individual pursuits and hobbies, while the other doesn't. The less active spouse often has the expectation that free time will be spent together, and becomes resentful when their spouse is off pursuing his interests. The active spouse in turn might be critical of his spouse's lack of interests, and insist that she get a life.
It is a delicate balancing act that each couple has to work out for themselves. It's the classic you, me and us. It starts with an acknowledgement that couples are not clones of one another; that there are individual needs and there are couple needs. Finding that balance is imperative.