Giving up personal time is, for me, the worst part of living with someone. Every movement is touched by concerns about him — what would he like, what does he need, what would he enjoy? Including thoughts of the other in everything you do is what love is all about.
Speaking personally, finding myself without any windows of freedom in which I can be my old self, the self I gave up to be with him, is one of the secrets of a happy relationship. I can extrapolate, I think, to say that failure to include any of this free time in the rules and regulations of a love or a marriage is a major cause of malaise.
What do I want to do with this time? I want to be able to do anything I please. Isn’t that awful?
There are times when I would like to dish with my friends, including dishing about him.
There are times when I would like to see my former boyfriends, the ones I feel warmly towards, and talk about things we couldn’t talk about while we were together. We know we don’t want to be together so it’s no threat to our present loves.
The book Why I’m Still Married contains an essay by a woman who wonders why people think it is so awful that she and her husband have an open marriage. She says he notices the blush on her cheeks when she comes back from an assignation, and he laughs about it. And the other way around.
Extracurricular sex is another possibility. It can enhance a relationship, it also can undermine it by introducing doubt. That is the tricky part.
Or maybe a visit to a muesum or an opera where you don’t have to share your opinions with anybody, just marinate yourself in the pleasure. Once you’ve spent a considerable time single, going places alone, you realize that the pleasure of allowing art and music to enter unanalyzed is unique, and cannot be achieved in even the best of company.
General social opinion would say that one has to suck up the suffocating feeling of being caged and restricted, but I say that being able to access freedom every once in a predictable while will contribute to the happiness of cohabitation. Lack of adventure is a killer. With adventure comes risk. You’ve got to be a grownup to be able to handle risk. The challenge would be to define things which you can find release doing without jeopardizing the most precious thing in your life. On the other hand, if you don’t have some freedom, you jeopardize the most precious thing in your life.