3 relationship taboos that may improve your marriage

By: Shannon Christie

© Productions Author: Canadian Living Credits: © Productions


3 relationship taboos that may improve your marriage

By: Shannon Christie
None of us are cookie-cutter couples with exactly the same thoughts and feelings as our friends, neighbours and family members. So why would we try to cram our relationships into a one-size-fits-all set of rules? Many couples today are eschewing the traditional for modern ways of coexisting, with different expectations and different views of what constitutes "typical" married-person behaviour.

Taboo behaviours in relationships

"There are no rights or wrongs in relationships," says Joan Stafford, an Ottawa-based individual, couple and family therapist who specializes in cognitive behavioural therapy. "Couples should define what they need for themselves."

She shares some refreshing insights into traditionally taboo marriage behaviours that could actually help -- rather than hinder -- your relationship.

1. Take separate vacations
We all know absence allegedly makes the heart grow fonder, but that's not the only benefit of spending time apart. "The main benefit would be that you have time to recharge your batteries and just be responsible for yourself," says Stafford.

Even though you're part of a couple, you and your partner may have different needs as individuals, so if one person needs to be alone sometimes that has to be OK.

"I don't really think there is a magic number of hours that you have to spend together, it has to be negotiated between the couple," says Stafford.

For couples who face time constraints and financial limitations when it comes to balancing shared and separate vacations, there are options. "Vacations don't have to cost a lot of money, and a vacation doesn't have to be for a week or two -- it can be hours or days," says Stafford.

"One person can't just decide to go off by themselves on vacation; it needs to be a conversation in the context of needs and how each of you will cope. Both people need to be taken into consideration," she notes.

Page 1 of 2 -- Can sleeping in separate beds actually improve your relationship? Find out on page 2. 2. Splurge
In the same way that you build a "cheat day" into your diet, consider taking a break from strict budgeting during a set period of time or making a "sensible" splurge.

"I do think splurging is important if the necessities of life are covered," says Stafford. "You need to talk about it with your partner and agree based on what your needs are.

The spender isn't allowed to spend every cent and the saver cannot save every cent. Spending is sometimes an issue for couples, so a break from the budget doesn't have to be huge," she says. Even an ice cream out together on a warm evening can be enough to break the routine in a positive way.

Work together to make a decision to splurge on something you normally wouldn't, whether that's trying a new restaurant, buying something even if it's not on sale or choosing name-brand cereal. By building in some (limited) budgetary "cheating" you can shake things up without breaking the bank.

"It might also help if you talk about your big goals -- the things you want to accomplish. Saving for tomorrow is important, but you need to have the little day-to-day pleasures as well," Stafford explains.

3. Sleep in separate beds
Some couples feel that sleeping in the same bed together is an integral part of their relationship, but others swear by the joys of separate beds and dual master bedrooms.

"If one person needs to be able to get a good night's sleep and their partner is a heavy snorer, there is resentment that builds up," says Stafford. "Your mood certainly goes downhill and you end up with lack of energy and irritability. If that goes on for any length of time, it can be disastrous."

It shouldn't matter whether or not you're sharing a duvet as long as you're sharing the important things: Spending intimate time together, sharing great conversation and having fun.

"If someone wants to sleep separately because they are mad or upset, that is more of an issue than if they want to sleep separately because their partner grinds their teeth and they are suffering sleep deprivation as a result," she notes. "You figure those things out by talking."

The good news is that typical married-person behaviour is becoming extinct. Couples today are finding ever more interesting ways to turn marriage and relationship taboos upside down. They are focusing on what works for them instead of preconceived notions of what a relationship should be.

Simply put: "If it works for both of you, keep doing it," says Stafford.

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3 relationship taboos that may improve your marriage