I got married right after college. I had never lived on my own. I had no idea who I was. I knew that I wanted a career. I wanted a family. I wanted it all.
Well, the family came quickly and I had two children, but then I began to feel very unfulfilled. I loved being a mom, but knew that I needed more in my life in terms of my “own thing”. I was lost and unfortunately, because I lost myself in this marriage, I ended up divorcing my husband.
I can’t be too hard on myself. After all, I saw my mom give up much of her identity in her marriage to my father. It was my role model. She built her life around him, his family, his friends and it worked fairly well. I think they had a good enough marriage, but I wanted more in my life and I had no idea where to begin to find myself.
In her Huffington Post article, author, Vicki Larsen addresses this. She quotes Psychoanalyst Beverly Engel, author of Loving Him Without Losing Yourself, who calls this the Disappearing Woman — what happens when women lose track of what they believe in, what they stand for, what’s important to them and what makes them happy just because they happen to be in a relationship.
No matter how successful, assertive, or powerful some women are, the moment they become involved with a man they begin to give up part of themselves — their social life, their time alone, their spiritual practice, their beliefs and values. In time, these women find they have merged their lives with their partners’ to the point where they have no life to go back to when and if the relationship ends.
Why can’t we stay true to ourselves in a relationship? Engel says that we want to be nice because we’ve learned that being nice is important in order to sustain a relationship. Engel says,
She’ll pretend to agree when she doesn’t really agree, she’ll go along with things she doesn’t really believe in, and if she does that long enough, she’ll no longer know what she feels.
Author Larsen says,
How many women do you know who will break plans or give up a favorite activity for a guy? Not that it’s not OK to do that from time to time or for certain situations; it’s just that somehow in the togetherness of coupledom too many of us forget to have a life of our own. Instead, we look to our partner to fulfill all our needs — and get frustrated and resentful when he doesn’t. Then we see the problem as something wrong with him, and not us.
What are your thoughts? Are we just fulfilling the nice girl syndrome or is it that we don’t have a clear picture of our identity and core essence as a woman before we enter a relationship?