Have you ever noticed that people who have been married for a long time tend to look like each other?
You aren’t imagining things. Not only is it scientifically proven that couples who have been married for a long time begin to look like one another; and the happier they are, the more they tend to resemble one another! Marriage changes people in many ways. As we grow closer to our spouses, we become like them, and they become like us. We pick up habits, gestures, and preferences; if nothing else, we adapt to their needs and desires, often by squelching our own.
Unity and oneness is a blessing in a happy marriage, but it can be a curse in a time of separation. If our identity is wrapped up in who we are as a husband or a wife, we may feel worthless to function solo. This tendency is what causes us to cling so tightly to our spouses when they are asking for space; we desire to please them, do for them, and care for them. During times of separation, you must reestablish your own identity, and your spouse must have the space they ask for in order to fully recognize your role in his/her life.
When I got married, I had been single for many years. Because of this, I came into my marriage with a single-person mindset. If I wanted something, I got it; if I didn’t like something, I refused to participate.
This caused many problems early in my marriage; but as time went on I learned to concede my will and make decisions based upon what was best for us. However, when we were separated, I had a choice to make – continue living my life solely for my husband, from miles away, unnoticed; or live my own life, how I wanted it. I didn’t choose the latter for several months because I was convinced that if I stopped trying to win my husband back, or appeared too strong without him, he would think I didn’t need him. This is faulty thinking! When I finally began to live my life as I wanted to, I became happier, and he started to take notice of me again.
I began purchasing the foods that I loved but had stopped buying because he wouldn’t eat them. I went hiking with my kids whenever I felt like it, rather than waiting around, trying to catch him on the phone when he was home. I enjoyed spreading out in my big bed alone, without someone stealing my covers or snoring! Of course I missed my husband, but I also realized how much I had missed these parts of myself that I had put aside for him for so long. Most importantly, I was making choices that directly made me happy, rather than living my life for someone else.
This applies even after reconciliation, believe it or not. I’ve learned so much through the trial I went through. I spent so much time controlling what my husband did and didn’t do simply because I didn’t like it. And I put my desires aside for him. This isn’t healthy. Now, we both are allowed to live with a freedom that wasn’t there before. I don’t try to micromanage his happiness into fitting along with my image of what our marriage should be.
Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. Romans 12:4-5
The Bible says that we are all different. If we try to control one another based on our own perception of things, then we stifle the individuality of our spouse and, in turn, suppress our spouse’s ability to operate in God’s calling over their lives. Even though we are directed to operate as one, without our individuality, the collective suffers.
Have you found yourself feeling “broken” because you aren’t fulfilling your role as ‘spouse’ right now?
Are there things you have stopped doing because your spouse wasn’t interested in them?
What are some things you can do to bring back a sense of your individuality?
Choose to do something today specifically to treat yourself.
by Lili Morris