I came across an interesting item in the news which mixed space travel and psychology (a heady mix!). It was about a plan to send a couple to Mars and back.
The part of the item that caught my interest was the search for a couple to make the 18-month trip. The problems being discussed were not about the technical details, but the psychological ones. The main one was, how could two people manage to stay in a confined place with no other company for 18 months without killing one another? (I paraphrase, but that was the gist). Fact is, no matter how devoted a couple are to each other, each needs to be able to be themselves and to take time away from the other.
I work with many people who feel guilty that that’s how they feel. Often, after retirement or redundancy, couples who have always been close and happy are finding that they spend virtually all their time together – and that they’ve started driving each other nuts. They long for some time to themselves and then worry that this is disrespectful to their partner.
Often they are relieved to discover that, actually, it’s completely normal (and they grudgingly accept that their other half probably feels the same way). Truth is, we all need social interactions and we all need our own time to recharge our batteries – through hobbies, work or relaxation. We can then really appreciate being with our other halves.
The space item really made it clear that this need for being separate as well as together was completely normal. I noticed it because, as a husband and wife business partnership, Steve and I have had to make sure we each have our own space too. With us each doing such different therapies that’s not been too difficult as we have different professional circles – not sure either of us would volunteer for a trip to Mars though!