In those days, even when you spent time apart you were probably fixated on each other. As time progressed, you gave up a lot of the time you had spent with friends. Your own time slowly disappeared. But, you were so happy!
Then the big day came and the two of you became an official "WE". No joking this time. Congratulations! The days may be long, but the years pass quickly. Where is your "I" holding now? Have you lost the ability to seek personal fulfillment?
Let's take a test: look in the mirror. Is anyone looking back? OK. I assume that the answer is 'yes.' But is the face you see a Mr. or Mrs. So and So? Is there a first name to this reflection? If not, this may be why: as a couple matures, both partners settle into their respective roles. If the family grows, duties and chores keep increasing. So, automatically, each partner assumes more and more responsibility for the increasing load. This way, things get done. How else can they handle so many daily tasks?
But, and this is a HUGE BUT, you are both way are too busy running and doing things for the couple, the 'we' and, slowly but certainly, the 'me' gets lost in the shuffle. The Laws of Diminishing Couplehood settle in like unwanted guests and wreak havoc by creating distance between the two of you. They are:
- FOCUS ON THE COUPLE, BUT NEGLECT THE "I" OF EACH OTHER, AND YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITHERS. You are only interacting with your spouse's role; not their "I".
- IN ADDITION TO THE "I" OF YOUR SPOUSE, YOU GROW DISTANT FROM YOUR OWN "I".
So, how do you retain your identity in a marriage? Both you and your beloved must negotiate to ensure that you each get your own needs met. Of course, this has to be in a manner that is satisfying to both of you. Otherwise, you are either a dictator or a doormat. Certainly a recipe for disaster. Well then, what do you do?
Here is an exercise for both of you:
- Write down what you think your partner needs the most from you to be happy.
- Add what you think they need outside of the couple for happiness.
- When you're finished, show your list to your partner. How accurate were you?
- Now reverse the scenario and have your partner show you their list. How accurate were they?
Next, you need a PLAN:
- Assume, in every positive connotation of the word, that your partner's needs are reasonable. If you have an issue with any of them, discuss together how you feel in a respectful, positive manner. Your goal is to be happy together, not adversaries.
- Ask your partner to prioritize their needs and tell you which are most important.
- Write down what you will do to bring about their fulfillment.
- Next, switch roles.
- Set a time, perhaps weekly, to discuss progress.
- Remember to focus on your beloved's "I"!
As you reconnect as individuals, you will realize the Laws of Couplehood Growth:
- FOCUS ON YOUR BELOVED'S "I" AND YOUR RELATIONSHIP WILL BECOME STRONGER THAN EVER.
- AS YOU REDISCOVER YOUR PARTNER'S "I" YOU WILL ALSO REDISCOVER YOURS.
Go discover and enjoy.