Where did “I” go?
I definitely hear it more from women than I do from men, but I am sure it happens equally: Why do we lose ourselves within our relationship or marriage? What causes us to give up our independence? What do we think we are gaining?
One answer for me was to keep the peace. Another answer was, it just happened. Another answer was, I thought I had to. And yet the most common answer is that I hadn’t realized I did until it was too late.
When it comes to marriage, two halves do not make a whole. To be successful, you must each be a whole, independent person in order to come together and make a whole relationship successful.
It states in the Bible, Genesis 2:24, “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.”
This verse is referenced over and over again throughout the Bible.
I am sure there are as many interpretations as there are readers. Personally, I do not believe that becoming one flesh means that there is no more man and no more woman, and now only a marriage.
We fall in love with that person as an individual and we are loved as ourselves, not as part of another. So why when we “become one” do we try so hard to be one?
I always say that my ex and I used to go away together to remind ourselves why we liked each other outside of the confines of marital responsibilities (Of course, that did not guarantee the eternity of my marriage, obviously.) But I wanted to be loved for me, not because I took care of the kids, or kept the house clean, or paid all the bills on time, or cooked good meals, or any of the other responsibilities I had within my marriage. And even though my marriage ended, I still believe in this and recommend to all couples. One day, your kids are going to be grown and out on their own, and you need to still like, not just love, the person you are married to. You need to remind yourselves you are more than a “to-do list.”
In that same respect, you need to still like yourself, making sure there is a self. Remember those things you were interested in, those things you did before you were married? Those are part of what attracted your spouse to you. Don’t get me wrong, married or not, some of those things naturally change over time. However, we should not unnaturally change or give them up. It’s kind of like what they say about having kids. It’s the same reason that airlines tell you to put the oxygen mask on yourself first, before attending to anyone else. You have to take care of yourself FIRST to be able to give fully to others. That doesn’t mean you can’t be selfless, but it doesn’t mean you can put yourself last every time, either.
Sometimes we don’t know we have done or are doing this until it is done and over. I, for one, had no idea until after my divorce. Friends trying to be supportive would say things like, “Now you can do what you want,” or, “Now you can go where you want.” Unfortunately, by this time I had no idea what I liked to do or where I wanted to go. I had spent 24 years doing and going where my ex wanted. I thought at the time that I was doing and going where “we” wanted; I truly believed that. Until I had a choice, until I could decide on my own, I had no idea that I didn’t like some of the things we did or places we went. So why did I do and go all those years?
Recently a friend shared with me her struggles. She states that she is depressed and feels lost. She loves her husband, but not herself. She says she doesn’t know who she is anymore. She was concentrating so hard on being “perfect” within her marriage that she let go of the things that were important to her.
There is a critical balance here as we need to be ourselves; however, we all want and need to be needed. We long to belong, to be a part of something.