Very often couples gradually go through a three step process and lose their individual identity as they morph into their respective roles in their marriage. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking responsibility of certain roles within your marriage. This is part of the synchronicity that marriage naturally constructs. But if couples aren’t careful, this naturally occurring process can slowly, without them even realizing it, result in an irreparable gap created between the couple, that can ultimately end in divorce.
When you lose your identity and sense of self when you are married, the loss can often manifest itself in the roles that you play as a husband or a wife, a mother or a father, the breadwinner or the homemaker, etc. You begin to feel like that “role” is all you are being seen as. What happened to YOU? Losing yourself in a relationship can create anxiety, resentment, and even feelings of hopelessness, which can cause you to rebel or express yourself in exaggerated or extreme ways that can then threaten the connection between you and your spouse. It can even cause you to seek your sense of self-worth from others.
Early Warning Signs That You May Be Losing Your Identity To Your Relationship:
- You used to be so together, always on top of everything. Now you’re distracted, always thinking about your relationship, rarely thinking about the rest of your life.
- You let yourself get talked into doing things you don’t really want to do.
- Your close friends start finding your behavior odd and unlike you.
- You don’t know what to do with yourself when you’re not with him/her.
- Your love-struck antics have started to annoy your friends and family.
- You start turning down invitations from your other friends just to be with him/her.
- He’s/She’s all you ever talk about.
- He’s/She’s all you ever think about.
- All you want to do is go home and be alone with him/her.
- You feel uneasy and you’re not sure why.
- You suspect your friends would be happy if your relationship ended.
- You want your partner to tell you who you should be and what you should do because it’s just easier that way.
- You can’t tell the difference between yourself and your partner.
- You don’t recognize yourself anymore.
With so much going on in your daily life, it can be a struggle to hang on to your individuality. The good news is, it’s never too late to get your identity back, either in your relationship or after it has ended!
Here are some tips to have a healthy relationship with your partner while not losing the one with yourself in the process:
- Learn to agree to disagree. You accept your partner’s point of view, even if it is not in tandem with your perspective on the subject.
- Stop relying on your partner to fulfill all your wants and needs.
- Spend time apart so that you have unique and interesting things to share with one another.
- Keep the friends who you knew before you got married, but also make new friends both as a couple and independent of each other.
- Make sure the compromises you are making in your marriage aren’t one sided. No two people are the same.
- Remind yourself of your core value system.
- Don’t give up your hobbies just because your spouse doesn’t want to participate in them.
- Keep focused on both your shared and personal goals.
- Learn to be happy with or without your partner. Your happiness shouldn’t be mutually dependent.
- Remember it was your own individuality that drew the two of you together in the first place!
How Does a Couple Get Lost in their Roles in Marriage?
Couples file for divorce for various reasons, and one of the most common is because they’ve grown apart from each other. One of the reasons that couples drift apart is because they have lost their individual identities as they have taken on their distinct roles in their marriage.
Becoming lost in the roles can potentially by a three stage progression. It’s important for couples to be aware of these stages, in order for them to avoid losing their individuality, and ultimately, prevent divorce.
Stage 1: Disconnecting from Single Friends
The initial stage happens during the first few years after getting married. Many couples have the tendency to gradually stop spending time with their single friends. Their reasons vary.
Some couples disconnect from single friends, because they think they can’t relate to their peers anymore. Some married couples stay away from their old pals because they think they can no longer do what single people do, like bar hopping and partying. Some partners choose to hang out with other married couples only. There are also those who drift away from their single friends because they just want to spend a lot of time with their spouse.
Stage 2. Losing Time for Each Other
The second stage happens when the couple begins to have children. When a baby arrives, most couples spend less and less time with each other. It’s understandable that couples would want to focus on their children, because babies are completely dependent on their parents, and they need undivided attention. But it is important that in the process of caring for your baby’s needs, you do not forget about your spouse. Couples need to make time for each other, even if it’s difficult to do so. They should remember that after the kids leave home, there will still be a marriage, so that relationship needs to be the priority.
Stage 3: Loss of Connection
This is the end stage of getting lost in the roles in marriage, and when many couples decide to file for divorce. This stage happens after the children have grown old enough to be independent, and the couple becomes empty nesters. Through the years of pouring their time and energy into raising their children, they’ve forgotten about their spouses. When their children are all grown-up, married partners have to still maintain a cohesive relationship with each other. When they are back to being just the two of them at home, they often realize that there’s no connection anymore. They have drifted so far apart that they can’t even remember why they got married to each other in the first place.
It’s very important that spouses balance their individual identities with those of being a couple. Having common interests as well as individual interests is healthy, so that once the kids are out of the house, the couple can still have shared interests to reground them and help them fall in love with each other all over again.
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We see many couples considering divorce. Whether you’re struggling in the early stages of your marriage or you’re empty nesters who’ve completely lost touch with each other, at some point there is a good chance that you’ve lost your personal identity within the hectic responsibilities of your marriage or that of being a parent. If this is the case feel free to give us a call. We have mediation services that may help, as well as licensed marriage and family therapists that we can recommend to our clients, who can also assist. Get help today!