When my wife and I got married, we were given a piece of advice by a trusted mentor.

“The very best thing you can do when you first get married is to move away from home and forge your own path.”

It stuck with us.

Within a year of receiving this advice, we headed out on our way to a new home several hours from where we grew up. We put a good bit of distance between ourselves and our family and childhood friends. Though it was a scary step in our lives, we soon discovered why this advice was so important.

A few months after settling into our new home, we met a wonderful group of friends, several of whom hadn’t taken the chance to move away from home beyond going away to college. We noticed something hanging over these people – pressure. Pressure to keep up with the example set by nearby family members. Pressure to keep up with friendships that should’ve faded a long time ago. Pressure to accomplish the goals they set out to accomplish in the eyes of the peers they grew up with.

In my view, it’s incredibly important for all of us to see how we handle life without any of these pressures or influences.

You need to see how you react to your car breaking down 400 miles from the nearest friend or family member (it sucks).

You need to experience building relationships without those initial connections to assist in the process (it’s hard).

You need to know what it’s like to be missed by those you love.

You need to have the opportunity to let failing friendships die gracefully.

By never moving away, we lose the chance to learn more about ourselves in these scenarios.

All of this is especially true if you’re married. For my wife and me, moving away has given us the opportunity to maintain strong relationships with our families while also providing the distance necessary to form our own married life and build our own experiences.

When we fight, we resolve it head on. When faced with a tough choices, we make those together. When it comes to big decisions like having children, we’ve been fortunate to make those judgments without influence or pressure from 3rd parties. After all, being 2000 miles away from family means that at the end of the day, the only people we can lean on are each other, and for us, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Move away. It’s ok to come back, but you need the time to discover who you really are away from the influences that built you.