When my husband and I wrote our wedding vows more than a decade ago there was a very specific promise we both wanted included: "To give you the freedom and support to adventure both alone and together towards our dreams."
At the time it was solemnly vowed I imagined us each cashing it in one day to chase the job of our dreams or a lifestyle seachange.
Sure enough, we soon moved to Europe so my husband could complete a once-in-a-lifetime project. Later when I wanted to spend a year flying between Melbourne and Philadelphia to complete my masters, my husband willingly waved me off to class each month.
These adventures were life-changing, but it's been the small, unimagined commitments to each other's freedom that has been life-saving when it comes to our relationship.
As I prepared to head back to work after the first six exhilarating – and exhausting – months with our son, it dawned on me that between juggling the incredible blessings of my family, my friends and my job, time for myself was going to be a rare and precious thing.
Perhaps I'd been spoiled growing up, but I treasured the idea of getting my hair done, having a massage, going for a run or just taking a lazy stroll along the beach without having to negotiate for every moment alone!
Desperate to restore some weekly "me" time – beyond treasured bathroom moments – I dusted off our precious wedding vows and proposed an afternoon off each weekend. Saturdays for me, Sundays for him!
Don't get me wrong. I love my husband and kids, but when Saturday afternoon rolls around and I don't have to be anywhere or do anything for anyone but me ... it's pure, sanity-saving bliss. By the time it's Saturday dinner I can't wait to get back to them.
While our family and friends have sometimes murmured their surprise at our life-changing approaches to freedom in our relationship, it turns out science would suggest we have it just right.
A long-term study of marriage, The Early Years of Marriage, has found 29% of spouses said they did not have enough "privacy or time for self" in their relationship, with more wives than husbands reporting not having enough space (31% versus 26%).
Of those who reported being unhappy, 11.5% said the reason was lack of privacy or time for self. This was a greater percentage than the 6% who said they were unhappy with their sex lives.
You don't need to lock yourself in the toilet just to get a break! Just ask for a couple of hours for "me" time once a week. Far from being selfish, it may be the very thing that saves your relationship.
Michelle McQuaid is a best-selling author, workplace wellbeing teacher and playful change activator. With more than a decade of senior leadership experience in large organizations around the world, she’s passionate about translating cutting-edge research from positive psychology and neuroscience, into practical strategies for health, happiness, and business success.
Twitter: @chellemcquaidWebsite: www.michellemcquaid.com/