Over the years we have always had separations like this because my family is in New York and Deb's is in Peru. We have both also gone on our own trips separately. I find these times to be so incredibly valuable for me and for our relationship.
Challenges of time alone
If I don't acknowledge to myself the difficult and sometimes shameful feelings they end up getting in the way of the positive ones. If I react punitively to myself for having the painful feelings I know they just get worse.
Benefits of time alone
Overall, I find these changes in routine are growth opportunities. There is a part of me that always resists them and feels more vulnerable and there is a part of me that feels excited by the newness and the unknown.
It forces me to deal with the fact that Deb and I are very different people with different needs and backgrounds. For example, she is so excited to be at her high school reunion. I wouldn't go to mine if you paid me.
Those differences can feel threatening and frustrating, but they are also what make for a healthy relationship. I don't want her to be the same as me. I don't want her to not have her own experiences and pursue her own dreams. The healthy adult in me doesn't want that, but when I am triggered, there is a visceral part of me that wants to just withdraw or have a temper tantrum.
It feels good just to be writing this right now, because I am acknowledging the different feelings I am having and hoping that in sharing them it will resonate with others and help them to feel less shameful about integrating their different, often conflicting, experiences.
P.S. I wrote this on Monday and now, three days later, I have seen how the act of acknowledging my feelings and writing this post have caused a major shift in my perspective, attitude and state of mind. I spoke to Deb this morning and felt so happy to see her having such a good time. I know that this is because I acknowledged what I was feeling and didn't beat myself up over it.
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