Self Help Now: A community blog

Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade offers advice for maintaining your mental health.

How Much Space Is Enough? Too Much?

Written by Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade, Community blogger | May 2, 2013 8:53 PM

How much space does a good relationship require? Parents who smoother their children with constant protection and indulgence ruin them. Spouses or partners who enable their mate to self-destruct with substances, overeating, compulsive spending or other bad behaviors ruin them and their relationship. The friend or spouse who talks all the time and clings incessantly creates a dependency but not a real, equal, fair relationship. On the other hand, the absent mate who busies himslf with work or a hobby or herself with wok,volunteering or friends creates a vacuum of neglect to be filled by something or someone else, vacating the relationship. The same formula is true to parenting. Too little connection and time together is as bad as hovering and smoothering.

So, how can anyone figure out the right balance of space and togetherness? I think it's so complicated that many factors are relevant, such as health, emotionality, background, pressures, and current events. For example, if the husband is achey and sore from yardwork, he needs space for a few hours but not for days at a time. If the wife has a history filled with lots of affection and attention, and intact self-esteem and independence, she needs contact more than space regularly but not constantly. If the child is prone to adventure and self-reliance from years of training, he needs space with the parents' support and blessing. If the child has trouble concentrating and remembering, she may need reminders and supervision more than space but gradually-increasing opportunities to be on her own. I know marriages whih thrive on weeks of separation to pursue independent work or goals, like travel, and others which thrive on doing everything together. Some alternate from one pattern to another.

The algorithym could get so tricky with so many variables to take into account. It's lucky there's the human option of using intuition, making compromises, learning from trial and error, and communication in which each tells the other what he/she needs at the moment.

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