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By Eric Orji
E-mail: ayoadehat@yahoo.co.uk

Allowing Personal Time
(…time to unwind and be yourself)

ONCE a relationship becomes more serious, the focus tends to subtly shift from me to "we." Instead of planning what you're going to do, you might notice you're planning what "we're" going to do.

While nothing is wrong with this, it can overshadow the need to spend some quality alone time as well. This doesn't mean alone time with your partner either. Spending time independently of each other is a healthy part of any relationship. You need time to process your thoughts and dreams, handle stress and just unwind and be yourself. It has nothing to do with not wanting to be with the other person.

Everyone needs a little personal space, and it's a huge sign of respect towards your partner when you encourage and support their time alone. If neither of you have taken the time to be by yourself in a while, it's certainly time to make a change.

1. Set aside at least one hour each week for each of you to spend time completely alone where you won't need to worry about any responsibilities. Your time could be spent doing something as simple as reading a book, taking a bath or working in the garden. The point is for the other partner to take care of anything that needs attention during the other's personal time.

2. If time allows, try to surprise your partner with at least a half hour of free time. Even better, you can set them up with a "free time" surprise. For him, tell him you're taking the kids out to a movie and he's to enjoying playing computer games all night. For her, plan a take-out dinner, then take the kids out for ice cream and a treat, while she gets to enjoy an uninterrupted bubble bath by candlelight.

3. Sometimes a partner can spend too much personal time on a project. Instead of making them feel guilty about it, arrange for a time swap. Agree to a set amount of time they'll work on the project each week. In exchange, they have to offer you that same amount of time to do either something on your own, or together. Get creative and you can both get what you want.

4. Every couple of months let your partner have an all day personal day. Arrange for them to do the activity they love most, without guilt and interruption for an entire day. While you may be giving up a day spent with your partner, the appreciation for respecting their personal space will more than make for the time apart.

Dr Love

He still treasures his ex’s photo

DEAR Love Thing,
I have been with my boyfriend for a year and two months. We are very much in love (college sweethearts). The other day he showed me drawer-filled with items that he has kept. It is mostly high school memorabilia. In it were some cards from a few girls and a picture of his high school sweetheart.

I am just wondering why he still has that picture of her, and would I be silly for getting upset for him holding on to it?
........ B'lla

*It is a natural tendency to be a little jealous about a loved one's past relationships. It is also natural to want to save remnants of your past. It helps keep alive past memories and the road you've travelled to become the person you are. I know I have pictures of exes and some letters as well. It isn't because I need them, or even because they are special to me. I guess it's just because they are mine. They are a reminder of who I was, and what I went through to get where I am today.

Just because I'm not in love with them the same way anymore, doesn't mean they don't hold some special place. For that fact alone, he may be still holding onto the pictures and letters. I wouldn't worry too much about it, especially since he showed them to you. If you had discovered them accidentally and he tried to cover them up, I'd be concerned. It doesn't seem like this is the case, so I would just let it go.

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Email: ayoadehat@yahoo.co.uk


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