Psychoanalyst, Erich Fromm was right when he remarked on the paradox of love — ‘Two beings become one, yet remain two.’
One of the ‘pitfalls’ of a long and happy marriage relationship is that over the years the two partners become ‘one’ and struggle to remain ‘two.’ Before you met your spouse you were your own person. You had your likes and dislikes, your own circle of friends, family, hobbies, interests, and so on. But when Mr/Ms Right comes along we often bend over backwards to make that ‘connection’ and allow him or her to step on our toes or worse walk all over ourselves.
One compromise leads to another and another and before you know it you have become this whole new person that you wouldn’t recognise if you paused long enough to reflect. If you still had your friends they would probably have told you that you were disappearing bit by bit. But who has time for friends while juggling a busy career, spouse, and children? So how do we end up losing ourselves?
According to Dr Sherrie Campbell author of the book Loving Yourself, this happens when you don’t have a strong sense of self and so instead you turn to your partner to strengthen
Do you look to your partner to sort out problems or figure things out? Do you find yourself lacking in self-confidence? Have you ever felt powerless to make changes in your own life? Do you find yourself over-pleasing your spouse or children? Then it’s time for a makeover. But why do we behave the way we do?
Dr Louann Brizendine, neuro-psychiatrist and author of Female Brains says that women’s brains are wired in such a way that after a while we tend to ‘start seeing the world through our husband’s eyes.’ This is because of the way most of us were raised. Culturally girls are raised to be more dependent than boys.
As parents we tend to over-protect and shelter them from harm. But this actually doesn’t foster an atmosphere for raising self-confident young women. While we encourage our boys to fight back, we ask our daughters to apologise. And so we end up having obedient daughters who later become obedient wives who have never even had a chance to explore their own personality. As women we tend to stress on the ‘connection’ in a relationship rather than the ‘confrontation’. And we often find ourselves biting our tongue and keeping our views to ourselves to maintain the calm.
Beverly Engel, psychoanalyst and author of the book Loving Him Without Losing Yourself says, ‘Your identity has begun to disappear when you start losing track of what you believe in, what you stand for, what’s important to you, and what makes you happy.’
Here are some pointers to find that elusive personality of yours and rediscover the old you.
Balance your time with your partner: You don’t need to spend every free moment with each other. Give yourselves some space. And that includes electronic space as well. Stop constantly texting, Whatsapping or looking at your Facebook or Twitter posts.
Make room for friends and family: Your interactions with your friends are completely different from your spouse, so make time for them too. They complete your social circle and stimulate you mentally in different ways. Catch up for a coffee or go for a walk or just go for a movie together with the gang. Return your mother’s calls. Skype with your sister. The first people you call when there is trouble at home will be them, so invest quality time in your other relationships.
‘Me’ time: It’s important to find some quiet time for your soul too. It can be an hour at the gym or just snuggling on your couch with a good book or just swimming in the pool to relax. With a hundred demands on your time it’s often ‘me’ time that takes the backseat, don’t let it happen.
Be a champion: It’s just not about your own career alone, support your spouse’ too. If he has a great opportunity coming his way encourage him to take the leap. Don’t hold your partner back, let him fly.
Don’t molly-coddle them: This is especially true for women. Do not spoil your spouse. Let them pick up their own socks or take the dirty plate back to the kitchen after dinner. And husbands encourage your intelligent wives to solve their own life problems rather than doling out solutions like she is a dummy.
Rekindle your interests: It can be fishing or doll-making or golf or cooking or writing or dune-bashing. Nurture a hobby that makes you happy and warms the cockles of your heart. Keep time aside every week for something fun.
Speak up for yourself: Don’t lose your voice in your relationship. It’s not important to be in tandem all the time.
Agree to disagree: A strong relationship is not one without conflicts but one in which both partners handle conflicts fairly. It’s okay to be angry and stand up for what you believe in.
Be open to new things: Leap out of your comfort zone. Go out and make some new friends. Do things by yourself out of the shadow of your loving spouse. If your friend wants to watch a horror movie go out and have all the fun. Keep things interesting; don’t fall into a rut. [email protected]