Happy Wednesday everyone! I hope your week is amazing so far. If you’re a consistent reader around here, then you’ve probably noticed that I have been MIA around here yet again this past week. I was on a roll with posting Monday-Friday for 2-3 weeks in a row and then last week was a complete failure which continued into the this week. In all honesty, I’ve been struggling a lot since we moved to San Diego which is why I’ve been a little in and out of social media lately. I was so excited for Zack to come home so that we could start our life over and move back in together and this move has been so much more challenging than I ever could have imagined.
Moving to Maine last summer was hard. We left a really good life in North Carolina and both went our separate ways to locations where we had nothing and knew no one (aside from the family I had in Maine). Although it was super challenging at first and far from what I wanted for our life, the year apart did wonders for my personal development. I had never had time to myself before. I know that sounds strange, but it’s true. I started dating my first boyfriend at the age of 14 and that relationship lasted almost 5 years. From there, I went straight into a relationship with a friend of mine for 6 months. Then went into a relationship with my college boyfriend for almost 2 years. And then Zack came into the picture and has been around for the last 3. I’ve literally never been single before.
I’m a long-term relationship kind of person and never really felt the need to live the single life or have that time to myself. Throughout the last decade, it never felt like an issue to me to constantly be in a relationship. I liked relationships. I was happy having someone else to do life with. But because I never had that time to myself, it prevented me from growing. It prevented me from truly discovering myself; who I am and what I want in life. And living with depression and anxiety makes it even more challenging to grow and develop like a normal human being. Making a basic decision was a complete nightmare. I changed my major and my life plan a dozen times each year. I know that’s “normal” for young adults, but I always felt like my case was a bit more extreme. For the longest time, I felt like I completely lacked an identity and that made my teen and young adult years so much more challenging than they had to be.
Related: Living With Depression and Anxiety
Having this past year to myself turned out to be much more beneficial than I ever could have imagined. Of course I missed my husband and the instability of the situation was a huge challenge. But I had more growth in that year than I have in all 24 years of my life combined. In that year, I completed my bachelor’s degree and graduated with a 4.0 GPA. Something I’ve been working on for way too many years. I focused on my mental and physical health so that I could be stronger and better than ever by the time Zack came home. I spent a lot of time getting my blog to where it is today and was finally making a full-time income from it. And lastly, I found a job that I absolutely loved and made some amazing career connections for my future. I finally felt like a human being. I had figured out what I wanted to do with my life and what I wanted for my future. Choices that I had never been able to make before. I even had my own friends and routines. I was the healthiest and most mentally stable I’ve ever been in my entire life. Aaaaand then it all came crashing down.
While I obviously missed my husband and was more than ready to have him home again, it was a bit upsetting to have my entire life turned upside down again the moment he arrived home. His homecoming led to a cross-country move to San Diego which turned out to be much harder on me than I thought it would be. When we got the orders back in April, I was beyond excited to be traveling to the other side of the country and explore a bit. I had always wanted to see the west coast and was thrilled for this opportunity. But by the end of the summer, I was on the verge of really starting my career. And having to create a new plan for my goals crushed me.
When a couple chooses to get married, they’re choosing to combine their lives. Decisions become more challenging to make because they’re based on two individuals rather than one. And due to Zack’s current job, our choices aren’t really ours. While he fully believes that my dreams and life goals are just as important as his, we don’t currently have a say in any of it. And that makes it really hard to keep my own identity and make sure that my own needs are met. Sometimes your life goals don’t always align with your spouse’s or the timeline is off or it’s hard to focus on both individual’s needs at one time. And that’s where our current issue lies.
I know I’m not the only wife out there who struggles with this issue. I see it all the time in some of the Facebook groups I’m in (particularly the groups for military spouses and significant others). Many struggle with finding the right balance of their relationship and personal goals. Most times, I see women choosing their relationships. Which, don’t get me wrong here. I’d choose my husband over anything and anyone. I’ve done it countless times in our three years of marriage. But it becomes a problem when you’re putting your own goals and personal development on the back burner. While everyone else’s lives and marriages don’t affect mine, it still upsets me. Why? Because I believe so strongly that women need to be able to take care of themselves too. Keeping your identity in your relationship is so unbelievably important to your individual growth.
It’s so easy to enter into a relationship or a marriage and put all your time and energy into it. It’s easy to kind of lose yourself in it. You find yourself putting your spouse’s needs before your own. Your individual needs and wants become joint. I becomes we or us. It’s not my favorite movie or restaurant, it’s our favorite. Keeping your identity becomes more challenging. I’m guilty of it. We all are at some point or another. But I do not believe that when a couple gets married, they “become one”. Do we work together as a team? Of course. He’s the best teammate I could ask for. But we are not a single person. We are two separate people with our own identities. We have our own individual goals and career aspirations while also having goals and dreams for our life together.
Being married doesn’t mean you must have the same exact goals, wants, and needs. Being married means finding a way to combine your lives in a way that allows each person to grow as individuals while also growing together as a couple. One person’s goals and aspirations shouldn’t be more important than the other’s. I never understood the importance in that until Zack left and I was given the opportunity to focus on myself. But now, I find myself constantly stressing the importance of it to younger, newer wives.
While my exact goals may not be as doable right now, I still fully believe that it’s crucial that I continue to focus on myself and my personal development. It’s important for me to have a life outside my marriage and do what I need to do to move myself forward. My dream job might be on the east coast, but that doesn’t mean I can’t continue to focus on my career and educational goals while I’m here in San Diego. I’m continuing my education by completing my master’s degree online. I’m searching for jobs with the sports teams here so that I’m consistently adding experience to my resume for when we move back home. I’m still at the gym five days a week and am doing whatever it is that I need to do to keep myself in a good place mentally.
My growth and development will never be placed on the back burner and yours shouldn’t be either. I cannot stress that enough. Take the time to really find and connect with yourself on a daily basis whether it’s through a coffee date with a friend, going to the gym, joining groups and clubs in your area, taking on a new hobby, focusing on school, or finding a job you really love. There are so many things you can be doing to build your own life and grow as an individual.
Throughout the process, be sure to be open and honest with your spouse about your own needs and wants. Don’t be afraid to voice your concerns and to have goals that may not align with your spouse’s plans and goals. Your spouse really does want you to succeed. Allow them to be your biggest supporter and cheerleader. Allow them to help you when you need it and seek advice from them whenever you’re feeling stuck. Work together as a team so that both of you are able to achieve your goals and become the people you want to be. At the end of the day, find a way to put yourself first!
Do you struggle with keeping your identity in your own marriage? How do you reconnect with yourself?