The Secret to Making a Relationship Last

What's the real secret to maintaining a long-term relationship?What's the real secret to maintaining a long-term relationship?"I need space."

At some point in our lives, many of us have either heard these words or said them to someone else. What usually followed was a breakup, and, depending on who did the breaking up, some tears, and perhaps some retail therapy or watching sappy romances on daytime TV while wearing PJs. However, in a marriage or any serious relationship, space means something completely different. In my experience it means a chance to be awesome at life as an individual. By awesome I mean a chance for you to develop and pursue personal interests, relax and recharge, or do whatever it is that makes you feel good about you. It helps you to be a better version of you. The payoff -- and there are many -- is that not only are you often happier and more satisfied with your life, but you end up being a better partner. And yet, as glorious as being a better version of me sounds, I suck at taking time for myself. I just do.

As it turns out, having space in your relationship may be even more valuable than having a good sex life. Research has shown that couples in which each spouse felt like he or she had a sense of privacy and time for him or herself were more likely to stay together.

Related: 20 things ALL women do but hate to admit

"No, duh!" you might say. But this is easier said than done (for some of us anyway).

Here's the thing: We know we need space, and that it is a good thing. But, as this article notes, often we women are less likely than men to get it. Even if we work outside the home, we spend a large amount of time caring for our loved ones, communicating with our friends and planning various events. I know a lot of that is by choice, but regardless, it is less time we have for ourselves, and for many of us, more time spent trying to make the people we love happy.

Some of us (me!) struggle to pull ourselves away from our families, even just for a little bit. With a new little one in the home, I am exhausted, but at the same time I don't want to miss a moment because I know how quickly time flies. I've also got an 8-year-old, and with each passing day I wonder when she will stop thinking I am the coolest person ever.

Then there's my husband. I've been working to love him better and make our relationship more of a priority -- which means I also want to spend time with him. There are only so many hours in the day! But I know a lasting marriage (not to mention your sanity) is an imperative enough reason to unplug, at least for a little while.

Related: 15 ways women are ruining their sex lives

Even if you can't necessarily leave the house, or aren't ready to or wanting to, there are things we can do to have a little space of our own while at home. Examples of such are an uninterrupted bubble bath (make sure that bathroom door has locks otherwise it will be interrupted, particularly if you have little ones at home), or some time spent reading your favorite blogs while drinking coffee before everyone wakes up in the morning.

Although girls' nights are fun and important if things don't work out to have one, we've still got to find a way to fly solo from time to time, even if it's just for an hour.

For ideas on how to find personal space, read this article. (Tip: Don't turn to your partner and declare "I need space!")

In the meantime, what are things you do to ensure that you and your spouse have some space? And do you agree: Is time spent apart more important than time spent making love? Does the saying "Absence makes the heart grow fonder" apply when it comes to having space?

- By Krishann Briscoe
Follow Krishann on Babble

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