After marrying, you may begin to wonder about the person you were before marriage. Is that person still valuable? In fact, where is that person? Have you lost track of her?
What was it like when you were first attracted to your husband? Undoubtedly something about him piqued your interest. That is, something about the pre-married person he was at that time. You would likely be disappointed if that person completely disappeared after you married him. Consider that the reverse is also true. The person you were, a composite of all your interests and friendships, hobbies and work, your family, and all that made you tick, was who your husband married. By retaining and nourishing your individual self, you are able to continue sustaining the marriage. Just because the “us” identity is prominent doesn’t mean the other individual identities should wither and die. They are what sustains the “us”.
So, nourishing the unique person that you are is not selfish – it’s sensible. If you were entirely neglecting the “us” and focusing only on “me”, that would be selfish. But by sustaining your own identity, you contribute more to the marriage. We could use a mundane example: what would happen if you stopped caring for your physical self, and only cared for your husband? You cook him food, but you don’t eat. You caress his handsome face, but you don’t wash your face, or comb your hair. It might be obvious that soon you wouldn’t be able to feed him and he probably wouldn’t enjoy your caresses either. It takes a balance of caring for yourself and caring for him. The same is true of all of the other less tangible aspects of “you”. They need sustaining. They might take time. It might require effort to find ways to fit them in. But they are every bit as necessary to your well-being as washing your face and eating.
If a marriage only had an “us”, it would very likely implode. It takes two individuals to make a union. Only two individuals who love and respect themselves will love and respect each other.
Take some time to describe yourself, as if you were telling another person about someone you really like that you want to introduce them to. Describe your personality and sense of humor. Tell about things you enjoy doing. Tell some of your accomplishments, and what you’re good at. Then, think about some of the things you need. Quiet time? Lots of excitement? A challenging job? Exercise or outings? A break from cooking? Time with your family of origin? Time with friends, or a girls’ night out? Workouts at the gym? Volunteer time at the food bank? Think about yourself – and the things that nourish that self.
What if, after reflecting on who you are, you find that although you haven’t neglected your “self”, you seemed to have grown or changed since marrying? Maybe your interests or aspirations, or things you value, have changed? Let’s delve a little deeper into that possibility with the next post!