If I asked how often you made YOU a priority, would you say something like, “I’ll put that question on my never-ending ‘to do’ list and get back to you ASAP”. If this sounds like you, let me invite you to take a deep breath and slowly repeat after me, “whoooosah”!

With the hustle and bustle of daily life, many of us get so busy focusing on different tasks and taking care of other people’s needs that we forget to take care of ourselves. In our attempts to manage multiple roles, relationships, and responsibilities, we mindlessly move from one thing to another trying to fit it all in. While it may seem counterproductive to slow down and take a break, ‘me-time,’ aka self-care, actually helps us to better manage stress, maintain a sense of balance, AND respond more effectively in relationships. It is essential the strike a balance with me-time vs. we-time.

Unfortunately, self-care is rarely a top priority and can be especially tricky in relationships. Happy couples are more likely to have a balance between ‘me-time’ and ‘we-time’ otherwise known as togetherness and separateness. Studies show that when people neglect their own needs in relationships, they are at a higher risk for depression, resentment, anxiety, deflated self-esteem, and burnout. When working with couples, I commonly hear relationship complaints that are a direct result of intense we-teaming such as: “Lately, every little thing he does irritates me” or “I’m frustrated, because I haven’t seen my friends in forever” or “I just don’t feel appreciated anymore.” Couples who are hesitant to take ‘me-time’ often feel on edge, stressed out, easily agitated, overwhelmed, and under-appreciated due to various interpersonal demands.

Why does this happen? Sometimes, it’s because WE feel obligated to place other people’s needs before OUR own or get caught up in acts of people pleasing when we really just want to say no. Partners need to be in tune with one another by letting each other know when personal space is needed. The key is to talk about it and reach a shared understanding about what it means for the relationship. Self-care is not a selfish act nor should it threaten the relationship. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. When communicated effectively, ‘ME-time’ can enhance and strengthen the relationship. Once a couple has room to breathe, they are better able to connect with themselves and each other, balancing ‘ME’ with ‘WE’.

Dr. Kate M. Campbell, LMFT