Yes, you read that right – “identities”. Not just because we all have multiple facets of our identity, but also because marriage involves three—or four—identities. Each person brings an individual identity into the marriage, and those identities become part of “us”—the couple, and then possibly the family.
It is essential that all of these identities be recognized and maintained. The woman is the one whose “single” identity is most apt to be lost to the marriage or family identity. This can happen unintentionally, or even intentionally with misguided expectations.
This diminishing of a woman’s personal identity can happen in several ways:
- By neglecting her own needs—not maintaining interests and activities that help define who she is
- The belief that a marriage partner is “everyone” and that the marriage is the only relationship that will satisfy and sustain her going forward
- The belief that she must forego her own identity for the marriage to be successful
- The belief that the wife must give up herself in order to serve and sustain her husband and/or family
- If either the wife or the husband believes that her identity is not as “valuable” as his
- Trying to change who she is in an effort to be accepted and loved
- The belief that one marriage is made of two halves, instead of two “whole” people
- Through being too overwhelmed or exhausted to sustain herself
It’s all too easy for a woman to gradually lose her sense of being a valuable, productive person, or to wonder how her identity now relates to who she was prior to marriage. When this happens, the marriage itself is sometimes blamed—the woman not realizing that her identity can be reclaimed without leaving the marriage. [Please note that this does not apply to abusive relationships.]
It’s important to acknowledge these identities, and their value. In future posts, we will dig a little deeper and explore ways a woman can maintain and nourish her own identity, and even grow as a person, while also maintaining and contributing to the marriage relationship. In the meantime, becoming more aware of these identities is an important first step!