Every year, when the summer turns to fall, people start to find indoor activities to fill their time.
This is true even if you live in a mild climate, like the Pacific Northwest where winter is more wet than it is cold (at least comparatively).
If you live in a part of the country that is hit harder by inclement weather, like the Northeast or Midwest, it’s possible to go an entire winter season and only leave your home for work and food seeking purposes.
In Boston (we’ve heard it mentioned in other places too), there is this old wives tale that says more Bostonian relationships break up in the spring time because the couple is finally able to get out of the house and away from each other.
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It might sound extreme and far-fetched, but think about it for a second: why would any adult of sound frame of mind choose to go out into the crazy weather we get here during the fall and winter if they didn’t absolutely have to? Not only is it bone chillingly cold and wet but our traffic goes from being simply frustrating and time consuming to abysmal, erratic, infuriating and terrifying.
It’s best to just stay home unless you have no choice otherwise and it seems pretty clear that this is less than great for the health of most relationships.
Experts agree that to maintain a healthy relationship, each partner needs to have quality time to themselves as well as quality time spent together. That time apart helps make the time spent together feel more special and allows the individual to maintain a degree of independence.
It’s easy to do this during the summer, when getting out of the house is fairly easy and every neighborhood in Boston has street and craft fairs, but what about those long winter afternoons and nights when the idea of going out and fighting the heavy and erratic traffic is just too much? The key, it seems, is learning to do something that Dr. Debbie Herbernick, in this article for Psychology Today, calls “coputtering.”
Coputtering is basically being able to be separate even while being together. For instance, spending time in different rooms for parts of the day or evening. Or, if space is limited—finding ways to allow each other to entertain themselves independently even while in the same room. The example Dr. Herbernick gives is one partner reading while another watches television or plays a video game.
Another danger seems to be finding ways to keep the romance alive when all you want to do is get away from each other for an hour.
Here are some of the ways that you can do that:
1. Surprise each other. Just as surprise is good in life, it’s good in a relationship or marriage. When something unexpectedly amazing happens, it creates a sense of spontaneous joy. Suddenly place plane tickets to Hawaii in your partner’s hand. Dress up in a suit and hold up a new dress for a night out on the town. A simpler gesture may be to order a bouquet of flowers while sitting next to your partner without him or her having any idea that’s what you’re doing.
2. Set up a fancy date night at home. Order something in. It doesn’t have to be pizza! There are delivery services like Grub Hub, through which you can order from a variety of restaurants and have the food brought directly to your door (make sure to tip your driver handsomely since his being out and about is allowing you to stay at home). Put out the good china, dress up, and turn down the lights–the whole deal.
3. Use any of the small tips from this great list! These are all ways to show someone you care about them, even when you’re making time to be independent together.
And remember: winter is only temporary! The weather will warm up soon!
This post was contributed by guest writer Christine Michaels.