Happy Monday, everyone! I hope you are happy a great Monday and are ready for today’s #MarriageMonday discussion. Today’s topic is about striking a balance between marital identity and self-identity. A rather interesting and enjoyable interest I picked up while completing my Masters degree is the reading of scholarly journal articles. They exist on every possible subject imagineable, and most offer quite a discerning view of the subject whatever it may be. The subject of self identity in marriage was no different.
Like the stuff of fairy tales…
The idea of marriage and marital bliss really is the beautiful stuff of fairy tales. Two strangers meet, become friends, then fall in love until they realize they can’t live without each other, and agree after a courtship to marry. Wedding dresses, wedding bells, romantic scenery, and vows all against a backdrop of pure love… and it’s wonderful. Two becoming one and creating this amazing family unit. It’s enough to make you warm and fuzzy. But that lovely feeling doesn’t always last.
In February 2020, Hakoni* therapist and marriage counselor Justice Schanfarber, penned an article in which he stated
Most people will not tolerate a life without a self. A psychological survival instinct will kick in eventually and say “You’ve lost yourself. Get out”.
It’s a sentiment that was mentioned over and over again among scholarly journals and all spoke of the culmination of the loss of identity resulting in resentment and finally divorce. It’s a real thing and a very real topic. So, what happens? Often spouses are so caught up in being “good” spouses, parents, and supporters that they allow themselves and their interests to fall to the wayside. They genuinely believe that being everything for everyone else and sacrificing themselves or the person they would like to be is a huge benefit to the family when in actuality the death of the unit is what is occurring.
So, how do you maintain self-identity in your marriage?
Continue to do those things that interest you.
The beautiful thing about marriage is it takes two unique individuals and creates a cohesive unit. The two parts that are so different are what make the marriage so absolutely fulfilling. Be purposeful about taking time for yourself regularly doing activities that you enjoy. Don’t feel obligated to open those activities up to your girl or guy groups. If you want to museum hop, winery stop, or just chill, then go for it!
The wisdom of the elders (or those who have walked it longer) is sage
Make sure your marital support system includes people who are happily married and have been married for long enough to serve as mentors to you and your spouse. There is a very good chance they have experienced what you are feeling and are able to provide some great advice for you.
Don’t say goodbye to your circle
Having a new family doesn’t mean you completely close out your original one (unless they’re toxic and that’s a WHOLE different subject). Spend time with them. Laugh, love, and enjoy your time with your loved ones.
Don’t expect to be ‘The Joneses’
Social media will have you losing your mind in comparisons. You see others holding hands, laughing, smiling and you expect that your relationship should be the same. When your spouse isn’t doing the same things like the people you are seeing around you, being resentful of their perceived shortcomings is not fair to them. It also opens a very dangerous door to resentment. Pay attention to your own swim lane and focus on finding joy and creating your own happiness.
‘Therapy’ is not a bad word
Sometimes there is an internal battle brewing underneath your subconscious. Triggers are real and they can do major damage. Seeking a therapist to help traverse the unfamiliar and the disappointments may help you get to the root cause of what is causing you to lose your identity and what you can do to improve it.
Here’s hoping you enjoyed today’s Marriage Monday article. Feel free to discuss in the comments below.