when i moved to Nashville, Craig had already lived here for a year and a half. he knew everyone, i knew no one. i started introducing myself as “Craig’s Wife” like it was my name. it was what everyone called me anyway. which actually didn’t bother me at all. have you seen my husband? totally hawt.
but it bothered Craig. not because he didn’t want people to know i was his wife, but because i have my very own, very specific identity that he happens to be pretty proud of. he didn’t want people to think i lived in his shadow.
…until people started recognizing me first and i had to start introducing him. now he let’s me use Craig’s Wife again.
kidding. sort of.
it was very different for me when i was in high school though. i was Jack’s* Girlfriend. that was not only my name, it was my entire identity. for a year every move i made, every decision i would make, every plan that was hatched was all tied up in WWJD, What Would Jack Do? or more importantly, what would Jack want me to do? i wouldn’t breathe if i thought he wouldn’t like it.
i gave up opportunities for travel and a paid summer internship because he was upset at the thought that guys might hit on me. what he wanted or needed was always first. no matter what it cost me.
but that wasn’t his fault.
it was mine.
that’s not power he took from me, that was power i willfully handed over. like the idiot i was.
girls have a tendency to get so wrapped up in the guy they are dating, they forget there are two people in the relationship. sometimes the guys don’t even know it’s happening.
and girls, unless they are jealous control freaks, they don’t want it to happen. good guys don’t like the cling-on. in fact, it’s more than a little sexy when you maintain a part of your life where you don’t need him at all. just ask him.
not sure how to do that? i, of course, have made a list:
1. schedule play dates – go out with your girls. do not ask him if it’s okay, do not collect $200. well, okay, take the money, but only to increase the good time you will be having without him. you do not need his permission to maintain your friendships. if he makes you feel as though you do, get out. run far and fast. a good man will encourage this, a controlling jerk will make you feel like you’re doing something wrong. you are not doing anything wrong. you are keeping a firm grasp on your own identity.
2. set the trophy on the mantle – be freaking proud of what you’ve accomplished. own it. you are capable with or without him. a quality guy will be proud of you, a guy that needs to be kicked to the curb will make you feel as though it’s not enough or that you should be embarrassed.
3. “it’s not my thing” – you do not have to like everything he likes. you don’t even have to like most of what he likes. *GASP* no! yes. it’s true. let him watch Dumb and Dumber with his idiot friends. you don’t have to pretend to enjoy it. just like he doesn’t have to like line dancing or 2-for-1 appletinis. those examples were absolutely not taken from my own life at all.
4. stick to the plan – if you have set a goal, chase it. follow through on your plans for that degree, or writing that book, or getting that promotion. a man worth keeping, will only encourage you.
there was a you long before there was a him. you do not end where he begins. together is awesome. i’m all for together. but together is so much better when the individual parts are strong and whole in their own right.
decide who you are and be her. he will love you better for it.
any other thoughts on how to maintain your own identity in a relationship?
guys, am i right?
*name has been changed to protect the innocent and to make the WWJD thing work