My partner and I have been together for 10 years, married for two, and I’ve known we’d be together forever since the first time we talked. That being said, the early years of our relationship were tough, to say the least. The problems got so bad that we decided in order to save our relationship, we needed to take a three-month break from it. Looking back, I can honestly say it was the best thing that ever happened to us. Here’s why:
Sometimes, space is the most important thing you can give each other. Things were way too tense between us for too long, meaning there were way too many cold silences, fights about the same stuff over and over again and nitpicking about meaningless things. The only way to fix that was to distance ourselves from it. It’s essential. We needed some time away from each other, and it totally did the trick.
It’s true — you don’t always know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone. It doesn’t always matter how long you’ve been together if your relationship is serious and you’re together all the time. It’s way too easy to start taking each other for granted. You get used to the things your partner does for you and so does your partner. Your life involves all the same squabbles and dinners and plans. That’s exactly what happened to us. Taking a break reminded us of what we had and why we fell in love in the first place.
You can take the time apart to engage in some serious self-reflection. This was one of the reasons I needed a break. I needed to work on myself. I had anger issues and only child syndrome. I knew my partner had crap to deal with too. It’s hard, but as soon as we were apart and let some silence grow between us, our conversations became more about listening instead of telling, accusing, overriding, blaming, and being defensive.
Distance provides a buffer for contentious conversations. It’s easier sometimes to talk over the phone or Facetime. Not over text, though. When we were taking a break, we kept in contact but refused to have important conversations through text, email, DMs, IMs, or anything like that. We didn’t have to be face-to-face, but we tried to talk on the phone or do a video chat from time to time. It took a while for this to work, but it eventually did. Our conversations went way more smoothly, even when talking about more sensitive topics that used to cause an immediate fight.
You can also use the space to work out your issues. I had individual issues and so did my partner, but we also had relationship issues. As we worked on ourselves, we eventually came to conclusions about what was causing our issues as a couple. Even though we had different points of view and feelings about those issues between us, we were able to communicate about them much more clearly.
Once you’re on the outside looking in, you get a new perspective. For instance, I realized that I’m not always right and my partner’s not always wrong. I also realized that I was slightly manipulative (albeit unintentionally) in the way I always tried to make my partner take the blame. I’m not proud of that, but I would probably still be that girl if I hadn’t confronted that issue during our time apart.
It’s a little easier to listen when you’re not always together. If you ever just get tired of listening to your lover talk sometimes, solely because of a particular tone or facial expression that just drives you to distraction and frustration, you understand this. It happens. Space really can be a panacea. Taking time away from each other made me much more eager to hear what my partner had to say, and then I could truly take it in, think about it, and understand her perspective.
You can center yourself and separate your distinct identities. We needed to rediscover who we were as individual people, not just as part of a couple. It’s possible we were starting to lose ourselves in the relationship, which was part of the root cause of our issues. The break helped us reassert our own personalities, which fulfilled us and made us remember why we were so attracted to each other in the first place.
It never hurts to take some time to think. If you’re legitimately unhappy with your partner and not just unhappy at this stage of your relationship, you need to know and so does your partner. Breaking up hurts, but if it needs to happen, it needs to happen. We took that time away from each other so we could really assess that objectively. Thankfully, we knew we were better off together — we just needed to put in some work.
No, a break is not just a precursor to a breakup. You’re not doomed to break up just because you take a break. Sometimes, they’re exactly what you need – a reset – for a long, healthy, deliriously happy relationship. Taking time apart saved my relationship and it’s the best thing we’ve ever done for it. I don’t regret it at all.