7 Ways to Maintain Your Independence in a Marriage

December 2, 2011  |  
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When we take the “Great Plunge,” when we commit to “for better or worse,” it is with the understanding that we are becoming one. And, some of us mistake that for spending every waking moment together when that’s not the case at all.

Successful marriages are comprised of two whole individuals who complement one another. Rather than attempting to make each other complete, one enriches the other’s life and vice versa. For that reason, it is important that we put forth the energy to maintain ourselves individually. The intent of marriage is not to entirely expunge independence. After all, he married you as an independent woman. Therefore, it is important to preserve a certain sense of self.

These are a few ways to do so:

Make GNO a priority.
Hanging with your girls not only allows you to take a mental break away from marriage and family life, but it also helps you maintain a sense of individuality. It’s a good time 100 percent on your terms and, every once in a while, it’s refreshing to function as a “me” instead of “us.” However, Girls Night Out shouldn’t come before tending to your home and man, but it should be something regularly scheduled—once or twice a month, perhaps. We have to nurture the worthwhile friendships that keep us sane.

Keep a separate bank account.
I’m a firm believer that all married couples should work out of three personal checking accounts, one joint and two separate, where the joint account serves as the money hub and “play” monies are distributed into the separate accounts. It’s the best way to maintain a bit of financial freedom within a united household, as well as to help each party stash a little for a rainy day. You have the option to save or spend your “play” money as you please and not at the cost of a missed mortgage payment.

Spend time alone.
The same way men need man-caves, women also need a space to call their own—where you can read or write or reflect in simple silence. Time spent alone is healthy as we should take a little time for ourselves to enjoy the essence of who we are, as well as rest, watch a movie, listen to some music and just have a moment to self. Besides, silence IS golden.

Pay the tab.
Treat your husband the next time you go out to dinner. Plan an expensive date and foot the bill. Not only will you feel great spoiling him, you will also feel empowered. Plus, men find (balanced) independent-minded women Hot. While you’re feeling liberated, you will also be reminding your husband of the self-sufficient, confident woman he courted.

Dive into your favorite hobby or pastime.
Have you always dreamed of becoming a pastry chef? Do you design T-shirts people would die for? Do you just have a craft you want to get better at in general? If so, go for it. Spend some of your free time honing your skills—experimenting with new recipes, sketching, whatever. Dive head-first into your “thing.” You never know where it could take you.

Join a health club.
Get it right, keep it tight! Nothing makes a woman feel more independent than knowing she looks good. And, one of the best ways to keep your mind and body fit is regular exercise. You’re less likely to start feeling the insecurities that emerge when women begin seeing a decline in their physical appearance. Don’t get too comfortable and let yourself go, because we never know what the future holds–so if you can, hold it together. Furthermore, women who feel like they look good and can get another man tend to accept less nonsense.

Keep your mind active.
In the event that you’ve decided to leave the workforce, keep yourself educated, sharp and abreast of what’s going on in the world and your industry. You should be as prepared as possible to re-enter the corporate world at any given time, especially in this economy. Also, it’s always good to be well-informed and equipped for conversation. You will feel more confident knowing that your body may be removed from the daily grind but your mind isn’t.

LaShaun Williams is a Madame Noire contributor and columnist whose work has appeared in the New York Times and across several popular sites, such as HuffPost Black Voices and the Grio.  Follow her on Twitter @itsmelashaun and Facebook.

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