When is Close Too Close?

One of the challenges of mature relationships is balancing healthy closeness with healthy separateness. You may feel the sting of needing to grow in this area if you find yourself wanting a boys night out but are afraid to ask. Or, you might be off in the car together on Saturday morning doing errands and seething with resentment because you desperately need some alone time to unwind from the pressures of the week. You don’t say anything because you assume your partner would just get mad. Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt, in their book, Receiving Love: Transform Your Relationship by Letting Yourself be Loved, help readers trouble-shoot for behaviors that indicate problems with clear boundaries:

·      You get frustrated or irritated when your partner can’t read your thoughts.
  ·      You are often disappointed in your partner because he or she doesn’t do things right.
  ·      You use criticism as a tool to get your partner to be more like you
  ·      You are argumentative and dogmatic because there is only one way to think.
·      You use guilt or shame in an attempt to get your partner to do things your way.
·      You say your partner is like you when he or she does something you like.
Hendrix and Hunt emphasize that the Imago approach to strengthening relationships is a way to help couples “gradually transition from moving within a single orbit to moving in two separate, but overlapping, orbits. They are able to have their own friends, their own interests, their own schedules, and – most important, their own opinions, feelings and thoughts. . .” Couples who achieve this freedom enjoy and prefer each other’s company all the more.