David and Renee
Ages 44 and 43, married 20 years
Philosophy professor and teacher
Trouble in Paradise
David: "There's this mythology to marriage about two becoming one. But I have always believed in personal time. I wanted to go out with friends, take a trip, or lie on the beach by myself. Early on, this was a point of tension. The assumption was that I was off girl watching. And I resented that because it wasn't the case at all. It caused a great deal of bickering, and it took us years to work through it."
A More Perfect Union
Renee: "I had to learn what to let go of. I realized, what's so bad about David going to Miami for a few days without me? Is he going to come home? Yes. Is he going to be relaxed? Yes. Will I benefit from that? Absolutely. And he'll know that I trust him, and he'll respect me more. I realized the time would come when I wanted the same and he would give me my space."
David: "And I encourage it—go partying, go dancing with friends. Spending time apart doesn't mean the marriage is bad; it just means that you care about each other enough to let the other person be who she is and enjoy her life—and you don't have to be in it all the time."