If you read my last post, 20 Things You’ve Experienced If You’re an INFJ, you’ll know that I’m a pretty introverted and independent (ahem…could be considered stubborn) person.

In fact, the idea of getting married always excited me but also scared the pazookies out of me!

I always thought of it as a loss of independence, which since I’ve gotten married, I’ve discovered that in some ways it totally is. But it’s really not as bad as I thought it would be. In fact, with certain boundaries and perspectives set in place, marriage can increase your sense of self and ultimately be the best thing you could ever experience (if you choose the right person.)

This balance of unity & independence in a relationship can be extremely difficult to find but it is possible. I’m going to share some of the ways that my husband and I have created this balance. Of course, I’m still a newlywed and there’s much more that we can learn about improving our relationship, but here’s what I’ve found helpful so far.

1. Make “alone time” and “quality time” equal expectations.

I don’t know about you, but I need my “alone time.” It’s a necessity for me in order to stay sane. People in relationships need different things and it’s important that you respect whatever that may be. Instead of “alone time,” someone may need, “social time,” every week to spend time with their friends and family. Whatever the need may be, it’s important that you respect each others basic needs.

I have seen so many couples lose their own identities once they’re married. They focus completely on their spouse at first and then later they focus entirely on their kids. Respecting each others individual identities and allowing each other time to develop those identities is crucial.

On the other hand, it’s vital to make time for “quality time,” together. I’ve gotten so caught up in my own interests (blogging, reading, writing, planning, etc.) that I have to admit that at times I haven’t done my part to encourage unity in our marriage. Spending time together is essential for a happy marriage. This is why the balance is so important!

Too much independence can disrupt unity in a relationship while too much togetherness can disrupt independence in a relationship. It’s your job, as a couple, to figure out how to divvy up your time in a way that will benefit your relationship and your individual “sense of self.”

2. Realize that it’s okay to have different opinions.

Sometimes people (including myself) get into a relationship and assume that their partner has to have the exact same opinions as them or it’s not going to work out. In fact, I used to feel so adamant about this that I even tried to change my boyfriend’s opinions by trying to convince or guilt them into thinking the same way that I did.

That’s a huge “no-no!”

Of course you can help someone change (if they want to change) or help someone see your perspective on something but if they don’t agree with you, why would you want them to insincerely agree with you?

Also, it’s important to realize that a lot of differences in opinion aren’t as detrimental to a relationship as we think they are in the heat of an argument. Even religious and political views aren’t as detrimental to a relationship as people sometimes make them out to be.

What’s important is that you love each other and that you are willing to try to understand the other person’s point of view even if you don’t necessarily agree with it.

I had to come to the realization that my husband, Connor, and I are two different people who grew up with different backgrounds and have different brains so there is literally a 0% chance that we’ll agree on everything. There’s literally a 0% chance that we’ll even agree on all the “important” things in a relationship.

Mastering this skill of respecting each others differing opinions is more than a matter of, “agree to disagree.” It takes effort on both of your parts to truly try to see the others perspective and to try to see why your partner might think the way they do.

3. Treat each other as equals.

In order for people to remain individuals in a relationship, they need to respect each other as equals.

If one person sees himself or herself as higher up or smarter than the other, their partner will be taken advantage of and will lose their sense of self and individuality.

I had literally not met ANY guy that treated me as an equal until I met Connor. I’m so so so so stinkin’ glad that I met someone who sees me as equally intelligent, equally logical, equally important, and equally capable of being a provider, nurturer, leader and a person with vulnerable emotions.

That has made such a positive impact on my confidence in myself as an individual! This aspect of equality also creates unity that you can’t possibly experience without it. It provides an atmosphere where you are able to listen to each other and learn from each other equally without one person thinking they’re in a position of authority over the other.

4. Encourage each other to have unique interests and hobbies.

The fact that Connor and I encourage each other in our interests and hobbies is one of my absolute favorite things about our relationship!

Before Connor and I met, Connor occasionally enjoyed playing video games. After we started dating, he actually assumed that he shouldn’t play them at all because he thought I wouldn’t like if he played them. I was so confused when he told me this. I literally asked, “Why wouldn’t I want you to play video games?”

Anything done in excess can be damaging to a relationship (including exercise, blogging, reading, crafting, etc.) but in moderation I feel that almost every hobby and interest is perfectly fine. In fact, it’s more than perfectly fine. It’s crucial that people stay passionate about their interests and hobbies!

I’ve always respected and admired Connor’s love for video games and I encourage him to play them because it makes him happy, just like blogging and making jewelry make me happy. Respect for each others interests and hobbies is so beneficial, despite how silly or boring you think they may be.

5. Encourage each other to grow.

Earlier today, Connor and I were laying on a blanket in the park and I was having doubts about my new blog and jewelry business. Instead of shrugging my worries off, Connor told me how capable he thinks I am. He even went beyond that and initiated a discussion about ideas for my blog and business. He showed genuine interest in my passions and dreams which made me feel capable as an individual and united with him as a couple.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to be your spouses #1 fan and supporter! This will not only encourage individual growth, but it will enhance the emotional intimacy in your relationship. Rooting each other on is an excellent way to be on each others side and have that sense of togetherness as a couple.

I hope that you’ll give some of these tips a try. I promise you’ll see massive improvements in your relationships and own self-confidence when you make an effort to respect each others individuality and also place importance on uniting as a couple. Thanks for reading and be sure to check out my other blog posts that you can find on my Home Page! Also, please let me know how you and your partner balance independence and unity in the comments below! Thanks!