In many cultures, marriage is considered a union of souls, not to mention the union of bodies. Therefore, many people have the notion that when they get married, “two become one” and even the Spice Girls sang about it, so it must be true.
However, as much as the beautiful concept of becoming one seems appealing at the beginning of a relationship, especially during the wedding ceremony, the expectation to become one can be the cause of many challenges in a marriage.
We can be united and fly to the same destination, but in doing so, we need two wings – two opposite wings – a right wing and a left wing. When we walk, we need to opposite legs & feet to keep us balanced. We would have a hard time walking with only one leg, however thick, or with two right feet. In the same way, a married couple can never truly be one (or two of the same).
The fine line between connection and uniqueness
The need for love and connection that marriage fulfils awakens another need – the need for significance. During adolescence, this need reaches its peak and teens go to extremes to be unique. Being with Gal for so many years (28 years this Thursday) has often made me wonder about my individuality within our relationship. The biggest question is “Where do ‘we’ stop and ‘I’ begin?” or “How much of myself should I compromise for our relationship?”
While coaching couples, I have found that this question is common to every marriage. The desire to be one means that you may risk your uniqueness and this can be one of the causes for divorce. “Why do I have to go with you to this movie just because you like it?” or “Why do we always do what you want?” are examples of the sentences married couples say to each other that are a sign they have not yet found the right balance between connection and uniqueness.
Remember, when you get married, it is not the end of who you were before, but a part of who you are now.
Tips to stay unique in the sea of love and connection
- Keep your previous relationships alive once you marry. Obviously, friends and other family members will not be able to see you as much as they did before, but they are important parts of who you were in the past. You can lower the frequency of catch ups or change the format, but keep your own friendships alive, even if you are busy.
- Have a hobby that is yours. If you love doing something, giving it up just because you are married is going to create a feeling of giving up a part of yourself for the marriage. If you play a musical instrument, expecting your partner to start playing it is too demanding, but not playing it yourself is too high a price to pay.
- Schedule time in your relationship for rejuvenation. In a hectic marriage (especially when there are kids involved), the time each member of the family takes as “breathers” between one hectic thing to another is limited. Encourage each other to take time off from being together too much. Giving each other some space is a good way to help the other person keep his or her individuality. You can take the kids on Saturday morning for your partner to have the morning off. Go camping with the kids to allow your partner extra time off. Be sensitive to that need and remember, if you give the right amount of space, it will strengthen your relationship. Whenever Gal or I spend a night away from home, we appreciate our time together a lot more.
- Maybe the most important thing to understand about marriage is that for the sum of the parts to be greater, we must not neglect any of the parts. For both partners to contribute to this union called marriage, which is supposed to bring out the best in us, we need to invest in ourselves, develop our confidence, our beliefs, our talents and uniqueness and understand that becoming one means nothing if we forget that this oneness is a fusion of two unique individuals and a common goal.
So, instead of two becoming one, it would be better to say that in marriage, 1+1 equals more than 2.
This post is part of the series Save Your Marriage:
- How to Save Yourself from Divorce
- Marriage and Divorce Statistics
- The Marriage Institution
- Marriage is the Foundation of Families
- The Unpleasant Side of Divorce
- How to Get Things Wrong in a Marriage
- Marriage and Self Talk
- More About Self Talk
- Facts vs. Meaning in Marriage
- All Men Are… All Women Are…
- When Two Do Not Become One
- Marriage and Money
- Be Your Partner’s Best Friend
- Relationship Between Two Onions
- The Greatest Gift: Staying Married
- Marriage of Singles
- The "Right" Trap
- The Intention Trap
- Best Marriage Quotes
- 10 Rules for Civilized Dialogue
- 10 Tips for Re-Building Trust
- The King and His Servants
- The Nitpicker
- Expressing Feelings in a Marriage
- Don’t Be On Guard
- Don’t Clam Up
- Have Good Sex to Save Your Marriage
- Trust (or The Boy Who Cried Wolf)
- Emergency Relationship Coaching Essentials
- Save Your Marriage with Better Time Management
- Choice Theory Can Save Your Marriage