How's the "you," "me" and "we" of your marriage? Are you balanced in a way that works for you both?
For a couple who is tipped way over onto the "me" side, they might live separate lives with different friends, few mutual decisions and little time spent together. I once had a couple who literally never sat down to eat with one another and had separate bedrooms. They essentially had barely a shred of focus on the "we" of their marriage.
For a couple who is tipped way over onto the "we" side, they may spend as much time as humanly possible together, with no outside friendships or interests. They are totally enmeshed in one another. They live “as one.”
Often times there's a struggle between the "you," "me" and the "we," where one partner may desire more togetherness with the other but their mate fears intimacy and a perceived loss of their independence. This dynamic commonly unfolds in my counseling practice - and other variations of a pursuer-distancer dynamic.
There's no "right" or "wrong" way to balance your marriage. The important thing is that both partners are in agreement on this matter. I find the most content couples have struck a balance somewhere in the middle of the continuum. Each partner is able to maintain their own identity, friends, hobbies and outside interests while nurturing the relationship. A personally fulfilled person can be more open, giving and loving to their partner than one who has lost their identity and ability for self-expression. The marriage is where they come together to share their friendship, intimacy, struggles, mutual friends, hopes dreams, meals and bills.
If your marriage balance is off somehow, I'd want to explore why it's that way. There are many reasons that motivate people towards the various styles they adopt including family of origin experience (what did their parents do?), fear of engulfment or the opposite, fear of abandonment. The next step is figuring out what you can do differently to create a balance that works better for you and your spouse. It often involves increased awareness, better communication, behavioral change and compromise.
The "you," "me" and "we" parts of a marriage are all valid and determining what works for you best as a couple is the key.
Lisa Brookes Kift is a couples therapist, writer and creator of The Toolbox at http://LisaKiftTherapy.com, with marriage tips, tools and advice by Lisa and other therapy professionals. Lisa is also the author of The Marriage Refresher Course Workbook for Couples.