Couples need proper selfishness

Posted March 17, 2011

Couples need proper selfishness

There is a term used in leadership development called ‘proper selfishness’.  It means taking time out to recharge your batteries without feeling guilty about it. The idea is that, in order to take care of others, you need to take care of yourself.

I believe that the same principle can be applied to a marriage. Every couple needs to take time out from their busy life to focus on their relationship and keep it strong. It makes perfect sense. So why don’t we do it?

My annual holiday with my husband is ring fenced; we set the same time aside every year and won’t alter our arrangements. We’ve occasionally upset family or friends – we’ve missed a few weddings over the years – but this time is sacrosanct to us. And if other people don’t get that, then tough! It’s our chance to really talk, to offload our concerns and anxieties, celebrate our achievements, plan for our future and, of course, to unwind. We return feeling as if we have properly connected as a couple.

But we’re a dying breed. Apparently there is a growing trend in Britain for couples to forgo their traditional two week holiday together in favour of several shorter breaks and days out. One of the reasons is that people find it too difficult to switch off from their work. That’s not healthy.

I’d rather emulate the example set by a successful self-employed businessman I know. He begins each new year by taking out his diary and blocking out his holidays. As far as he is concerned this is time that he sets aside for his wife and family and he’s entitled to take it. He then takes bookings for the dates remaining. Nobody has ever quibbled why he is not available on a particular date; he’s good at what he does so they assume he is already taken.  I’ve always thought that this is a great attitude to take.

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