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Monday, 24 July 2017

Me time

One of the hardest things to ask for in a marriage or relationship is "me time". Strictly speaking, "me time" is "one's own personal time to be alone". More often the domestic debate is about leisure time and who enjoys more. A 2013 survey by the Pew Research Center concludes that American men enjoy 10-15% more leisure time than women.

More seasoned couples may prefer a Living Apart Together (LAT) arrangement in order to deal with the leisure and "me time" negotiations. Obviously, the negotiations between partners will then shift to the question when time will be spent together.  Balancing time spent together and time spent alone / apart is a key issue in any (type of) relationship (eg, Psychology Today).

In general, couples have a weird idea about each other's need for "me time", especially in situations where one partner works and the other takes care of the children. The one who returns home is usually still stressed from work. The one waiting at home is usually also stressed due to a balancing act at home. Both expect the other person to grant some "me time". This expectation gap will usually result in a blame game, which is actually hiding a power game.

The willingness to grant each other some "me time" follows from togetherness: "a happy feeling of affection and closeness to other people, especially your friends and family". Also see my 20 January 2016 blog on Togetherness. To some extent, granting "me time" is even a case of self-interest as "you don't know what you have until it's gone" (eg, Elite, video 1, video 2).

The reasons for needing "me time" are interesting and relevant. A 2012 Psychology Today article mentions 6 reasons for spending more time alone. The 1st is the most interesting one: Solitude allows you to reboot your brain and unwind. Reasons 2, 4 and 5 are (in)directly related to reason #1. Also see my 30 July 2015 blog on Solitude.

In my 21 July 2017 blog on Focus vs Distraction, I mentioned the book "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman. Wiki: "The central thesis is a dichotomy between two modes of thought: "System 1" is fast, instinctive and emotional; "System 2" is slower, more deliberative, and more logical." (2011 NYT book review). Hence, distractions must be in #1 and focus in #2.

I suspect that solitude enables the "rebooting" and allows for some kind of an information download / transfer from (short-term) brain system #1 to (long-term) brain system #2. Without this reboot or transfer, (short-term) brain system #1 will get an (information) overload. Hence, the phrase "there's too much on my mind" (lyrics, video). This overload may also explain why couples move from rational explanations to emotional arguments for not understanding each other.

In the absence of togetherness, "me time" should be carved out at work and at home. It's a matter of priorities in a schedule of being busy, busy, busy. Walking alone in a quiet park around lunch time, might be sufficient for a reboot and "Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind".

I Can See Clearly Now (1993) by Jimmy Cliff - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone.
I can see all obstacles in my way.
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind.