Spaces in Your Togetherness

Lately, I've realized how essential setting boundaries is for a healthy relationship.

When a relationship is new, it can be very easy to let your Significant Other ignore your boundaries, especially if you have been starved for love, affection, or attention. You can become so enthralled at finally being real to another person, that you forget to take care of yourself. (You might even get spoiled and forget how to take care of yourself.)

By nature, I tend to be the solitary, independent type. I don't need a lot friends around me. I enjoy reading, listening to music, watching movies, exercising, and meditating—all of which I can enjoy quite contentedly by myself. But I also have a need for a healthy, fulfilling relationship. My nature requires that my relationship be one in which there are clearly defined times together and times apart. What Lebanese poet Khalil Gibran calls "spaces in your togetherness."

M. Scott Peck uses the mountain-climbing analogy. Each partner needs time to scale the mountain of self-growth in solitude and time to be in the base camp to give and receive support and encouragement. It is not necessary (or healthy) for two people to be constantly joined at the hip. Each partner needs the freedom to follow his or her own pursuits, unhindered by the other clinging on. In fact, each partner cannot grow as a person, without sufficient time for solitude, reflection, and synthesis of experiences and emotions.

Relationships, by their very nature, are about meeting needs—but without suffocating (or getting suffocated) in the process. It requires maturity and watchfulness to maintain and sustain the delicate, healthy balance of spaces in the togetherness. Boundaries are the tools that build the necessary space.

I know that if my wife becomes too needy and too demanding, requiring my constant attention to "take care" of her needs, I become resentful and angry. And vice-versa. No relationship needs that kind of pressure. Clearly defined boundaries, like these, ease the pressure:

  • I can meet my wife's needs, but not to the point of neglecting my own needs.
  • My wife can meet my needs, but not to the point of neglecting her own needs.
  • I can meet my wife's needs, but I also understand that she can take care of herself.
  • My wife can meet my needs, but she also understands that I can take care of myself.
  • I can "be there" to meet my wife's needs, but she cannot suffocate me with her needs.
  • My wife can "be there" to meet my needs, but I cannot suffocate her with my needs.

Such clearly defined boundaries help preserve a relationship's peace and friendship and attraction—the good stuff that we are all seeking.

Thank You, God, for blessing me with recovery and self-awareness. Thank You for showing me how to build a healthy, fulfilling relationship without losing myself in the process. Amen.

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APA Reference
Staff, H. (2009, January 1). Spaces in Your Togetherness, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 14 from

Last Updated: August 8, 2014

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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