Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché,
How do you not lose your identity when you marry? I feel as if I have become my partner! After 20 years of marriage, and giving up my career to be a stay at home mommy, I have no idea who I am or what I want to do with my life anymore. Worse than that, my husband doesn’t want me to get a job or leave the house to pursue my own interests- it angers him as he feels “don’t I provide for you enough?”
If someone loses their identity once they marry, they probably already had identity insecurity before they ever met the person they entered into a codependent relationship with. It is this insecurity that causes them to select the spouse that they do. A person who believes they are weak or untrustworthy will pick someone they think is strong and self assured. Unfortunately, such people don’t understand what true strength is, so they pick someone instead who is merely loud or narcissistic.
Culturally we are taught that the formula for a good relationship is 1 plus 1 equals 1. Some people even write this into their vows- two people functioning as one. But I believe that in a healthy relationship the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. 1 + 1 is actually 3, You, Me and We. Every part of this triad needs to be fed in order to keep a relationship healthy. The “you are my everything” point of view deprives the relationship of each person’s uniqueness and individual contribution. A relationship can’t work unless both individuals are bringing something of themselves to the partnership. If you live only for each other, it not only gets old and boring but it is a lie. I can’t know you if you don’t teach me who you are. If I live only for you, you will only be a projection of me.
You must have a firm identity in the first place in order not to lose yourself in someone else. You have to set good boundaries from the start for your husband to not expect you to be his trophy. It is not too late to set things straight…but if he becomes abusive, get out!!!
Dr. Brilliant Cliché
Granny says: I hate to be a wet blanket, but I suspect that if you want to find your own identity, your current spouse is gonna have to go. He married you BECAUSE you would follow his lead. If you try to be your own person, he’s going to do nothing but sabotage your efforts. He doesn’t want an individual with a mind of her own. He wants a show dog.
However, do NOT, I repeat, do NOT try to forge a new life Without getting some counseling. All you will do is find yourself with another man who wants a compliant canine. I would strongly suggest going back to school. You need to learn some new tricks, or you will just fall back into being the same old dog.