The Importance of Being Separate

One of the things I’ve found to be of great importance in any relationship—more than compromise, more than communication—is privacy and me-time. It allows a person to space themselves physically, emotionally, and mentally from any problems or issues they’re having in the relationship and recharge, recalibrate, and rethink the situation. I’m pretty sure it’s one of the reasons why The Captain and I have lasted as long as we have. We compromise on a great many things and have really open communication, but it is our private moments that let us come back together and move the relationship forward.

What does privacy mean to me? It’s a chance to do whatever I want, to relax and not have to focus on housework, homework, or the to-dos of the day. It’s a peaceful moment when I can relax and do whatever I want—whether that’s finding cute outfits on Pinterest, reading a book, or watching a horror movie—without The Captain interrupting. What does he get out of his alone time? A chance to play whatever video game he wants without the noise-cancelling headphones, to watch whatever TV show he’s addicted to that I’m not, and to have some peace and quiet without me constantly getting in the way.

It can be hard to have this alone time when we as a couple live with roommates. There really isn’t a good chance to have privacy every day when someone’s in the bedroom, someone’s in the kitchen, and another person is in the living room. On an average day my shower is the only fifteen or so minutes I have completely to myself. If the house is full there are six people here and you can almost feel the living. There’s never really a sense of total privacy.

How do I create my faux-privacy? The first thing to do is communicate my desire for privacy with The Captain so he knows that I’d like to be left alone. Then I close the bedroom door, put something on the TV, and set up the room just how I like it. A pile of pillows on the bed, a lit candle in whatever scent I’m favoring, and music or a show to entertain. So, yes, I may sound pretty ‘basic’ when I say that I love my Fresh Balsam candle, a cup of mint tea, comfy pajamas and a top knot, and American Horror Story: Hotel. These are my things, distinctly me, and it gives me a chance to recharge.

The Captain and I have our disagreements, our discussions, and sometimes we communicate afterword and sometimes we need time apart to get over it. We’re human and it makes sense that sometimes we frustrate each other. Do I get annoyed when he doesn’t understand my weird laundry rituals? Definitely. Does he get annoyed by my weird laundry rituals when they involve him getting kicked out the bedroom? Probably. In the aftermath of our frustration—him a cigarette or two later, me with my furious sock-folding—we’re able to kiss and make-up. It’s what makes us strong, and one of the things about real relationships that took some learning.

Real relationships aren’t fairy tales. They’re not easy. Queens and Captains aren’t attached at the hip for a reason, and it’s our times apart that make the times together that much better.