Last week I answered a reader question on “How to Not lose yourself to your marriage” and the feedback was overwhelming. I am always so honored when I write something and people take time to share and comment. The point of this blog is to start conversations on family issues so when I see people engaging on something I wrote I feel very happy. Now, out of the replies and comments on that post, one lady said, “This is a lovely post, very thought provoking. But how do I know I’m losing myself to a relationship? What are the signs you’ve lost yourself?” And just like that she gave me an assignment for the weekend. I started thinking, “can you tell you’ve lost yourself to a marriage? If Yes, how do you know?”
First of all let me clarify something. Love is not selfish. We need to sacrifice certain things constantly for the benefit of our marriage. That is not what this post is about. I am not telling you not to sacrifice things for the good of the marriage. No. This post is about when one person gives up so much until they lose themselves to the relationship. This post is about being one while not destroying the individual qualities that drew you together. It is about building one union with the good things of both partners, not completely doing away with one partner. Secondly, I say that yes you can tell when you are losing yourself to a relationship. If you listen keenly to your friends and observe yourself closely, you will see it. You will notice that you’ve changed; you don’t behave the way you used to. And once you see it, you can fix it. Once you see signs you’ve lost yourself to your marriage you can then know how to get back to who you used to be. So here is what to look out for. (This post is written from a woman’s perspective because I don’t want to keep saying he/she. Guys don’t freak out. The points apply to you too).
You compromise your needs and interests to keep your partner happy: Are your plans usually pushed to the side all the time? I’m not talking about postponing your masters because you have a new born. I’m talking about putting it off because it will inconvenience your husband. I’m talking about you canceling travel for that 5- day conference because your husband will be “stranded without you”.
I becomes we: Have you hang out with a friend who recently started dating or got married and all they can talk about is “we love that restaurant” and “that is our favorite movie”? It’s adorable and annoying all at the same. Please note that this is cute only at the beginning of marriage. It is OK to love a different type of food. It’s fine if your husband can’t stand a movie you love. Those differences are what make you individuals. It is wrong for one person to be taken over completely by another.
You’ve lost sight of your dreams and passions: When you visualize the future, what do you see? Do you see yourself achieving your dreams? Do you see yourself travelling like you always wanted to? Do you see yourself graduating from that Masters degree you desired? As you visualize you, your husband and kids going on family vacations, you should also see yourself achieving individual dreams. If you don’t that’s a sign you’ve been swallowed up by the marriage.
Your partner makes all the decision. And whenever you encounter a situation, you always seek your partner’s approval. Losing yourself to your marriage means you have become over-dependent on your partner. This means you can’t even buy a wall hanging without permission. There are major decisions that need joint discussions and agreements and then there are small decisions. Like what to have for dinner. This also means you never disagree with him. If you are doing this it could mean you are losing your individual thought process.
Everything is about him and the family: You no longer do anything for you. I have met women whom even the hairstyle they wear is because that’s what the husband likes. Really? Once in a while it’s OK but if every time you want to do something and you think “what will he say?” then there’s a problem. If you can’t remember the last time you bought something nice for yourself –not a kitchen appliance or a household item – you need to take a closer look at yourself.
Your self-confidence has shrunk. And you are more insecure than ever. If you notice that you are uncertain of yourself and your self-confidence has shrunk then pay attention. Over-dependence on your spouse means you’ve been letting him make all your decisions which in turn means you have a lot of self-doubt. This is also seen in people whose partners are emotionally abusive. Either way you need to notice you’ve changed and reclaim the old you.
You are terrified your partner will leave: Everyone in a relationship worries that their partner will one day up and leave. However if you have started obsessing about it then something is wrong. I have encountered confident, learned women worrying about their husband’s phone records and they never used to be like that. They cannot begin to imagine life without him. This of course means you fight more. While I love my husband very much I try to remind myself that he is human and not God. I cannot rely on him for my entire life. You need to realize that too. If for some reason that man leaves or dies, you will be devastated but you will not die. You will keep living.
Take a look at your life and if you see these signs then pause and pay close attention. You may notice that you have lost who you used to be. If you do, then it’s time to find your awesome self again. It will be good for you and your partner will enjoy you being the person you used to be with all your differences.