Space…. the final frontier

Most of us recognise these most famous words, spoken by Captain James T Kirk at the end of each of the original Star Trek episodes. The end of the quote is “to explore new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilisations, to boldly go where no man has gone before”.

Some of Captain Kirk’s faces as he navigated…… space.

I believe that many couples are facing the same epic, deep space journeys themselves in navigating the complex, undiscovered lands of relationship exploration. And one of the trickiest parts of the mission is working out where to find, and what to do with…… space.

The whole purpose of ‘getting together’ with a partner is to couple up, and do lots of stuff together. But it’s just a little more complicated than that. This is my simple list of why I think it gets complicated:

  • We all emerge from the fog of the ‘honeymoon’ phase of a relationship to find that life has continued and we have to re-join it – this can mean a re-design of where we fit in.
  • Everyone of us has responsibilities, hobbies, passions, needs, obligations, tasks, commitments that we either want to, or have to do alone at times.
  • Humans have this terrible habit of changing. You are unlikely to be who you were 10, 20, 30 years ago, etc etc…. and with this change in who we are comes a change in our needs about how we socialise with a whole range of people – including our nearest and dearest.
  • Terrible things happen to people that can change their personality and again, as above, change how they can or want to relate to other people.
  • Illnesses come crashing down upon us or creep insidiously into our beings that change our personal, physical and environmental needs.

The outcome of any one, or combination of the above situations (and many more not noted) is that one person in a couple may be in a situation where they need…..

S      P      A      C      E

Depending on the couple, the search for space may elicit a “meh….” response or be the spark that creates overwhelming feelings of rejection and fear and have a partner saying “If you need space, go work at NASA”.

So just as The SS Enterprise had to navigate it, how do you find space in a relationship without creating a black hole from which there is no return?

The answer is to construct it with purpose and thought.

A fundamental principle of good design is the use of space. In design terms it is often referred to as ‘negative’ or ‘white’ space. And I think that every good relationship should be designed well, so a quick Google of design principles gives us many reasons as to why space is just as important as content.

“The use of equal negative space, as a balance to positive space, in a composition is considered by many as good design” (Good old Wikipedia)

And I love this quote http://designmodo.com/negative-space
“Exorbitant amounts of white space can make objects feel small or distant and set apart from the rest of the design. At the same time, lots of space can create a great deal of contrast between an object and its setting. Equal and consistent spacing is one of the best tools you can use to maintain a sense of space and relationships between objects. As a general rule, spacing should be treated just like every other element and there should be a defined style for it.”

Too much space can make your partner a ‘small or distant’ object, but enough space might be what you need to create a healthy contrast between you – if that’s what YOUR relationship needs. YOU choose the space that defines YOUR relationship style.

Ain’t life grand!

I do have a consistent theme in my relationship thoughts that folk can end up mightily unhappy and confused if they always try and follow what others are doing for a happy relationship. Finding what works for YOU and YOUR partner in YOUR relationship is ABSOLUTELY PARAMOUNT.

Eschew the apparent happiness of others in favour of finding your own way to work. And always stand behind your decisions (but that’s a post for another day).

So how does the space appear? I believe it’s an organic thing that comes either in disturbing eruptions or slowly moving, meandering streams. Well, that’s how it’s happened for me. There are times when I have erupted in a ball of frustration at not having the space I need – then follows a period of deconstructive conversations to explain myself; or there have just been calm, mutually agreed changes of course that my husband and I have navigated together. This may not be all that helpful (sorry!), but it’s how I roll.

Of course… the beloved internet is the cure to all our lifely dilemmas, and herewith, a couple of links that might offer a more cogent explanation (one even with pictures!!) about why you should have some space in your relationship and how you might go about navigating and negotiating this.


Of course, the above sites are neither comprehensive nor guaranteed 100% certified perfect advice. But they do raise similar points about negotiation and communication.

We all know that when we sign up for a long-term relationship, there will be change. If we don’t believe that, then we are in for a lot of surprises and unhappy times. Or we might just get lucky and have a partner who never deviates from the beginning…. and good luck to you if that’s what you want and get. It’s just rare though.

Finding space to let you be who you want to be and your partner to be who they want to be is a common and dare I say ‘normal’ part of life.

The space to go away, have some great experiences and then come back together can be an enriching boost to a relationship; give you the material to have some interesting conversations, and even discover some new shared interests.

Don’t be afraid of space. It certainly didn’t do Captain Kirk any harm.

Now get those astronaut helmets on and get exploring.


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