Thursday, June 9, 2011
How To Claim Your Alone Time
How do you let your partner know that you need alone time?
Chronic illness is a demanding intrusion. It can determine when you and your partner can go to a movie, what you can eat, and even when you can be intimate. At the same time, illness can force intimacy in areas where it may not be wanted -- discussion of bodily functions, acts of physical caretaking like dressing or washing, exposing helplessness.
The experiences of the ill and well partner are different. Both may feel sadness and anger - at the illness and at each other. But the experiences that provoke strong feelings can be different. And both may need a break from each other in order to simply be quiet or to re-energize or to not feel obligated or dependent.
How do you take a break from your partner without wounding him or her? How do you claim your alone time without without giving the impression that you are rejecting your partner?
For some couples this may be easy. They may have even built alone time into their weekly routines. For others, especially where communication is more labored, taking alone time can be more fraught.
Richard and I both require lots of alone time. That is our nature and it was part of our relationship before chronic pain entered our picture. So now, if one of us closes the door or walks out of the room, the other is not wounded or offended. Sometimes we will say to each other, "Time for alone time."
Do you need alone time? How do you communicate this to your partner?