Do you need to be interested in everything your spouse finds fascinating? For marriage junkies, the answer is always yes. They spend a lot of time and energy reshaping themselves into the person they think they need to be, and often that means putting aside the things they love and taking up their partner’s likes, hobbies, and interests.
They are so afraid of rejection, so terrified of being alone, that they will do anything, become anyone, to keep their partner. They pretend to love a sport, or a kind of music, or a type of food, that they don’t actually care for. And they insist that they and their partner do everything together—because, after all, you both L-O-V-E all the same things.
Losing sense of self
As they give up the things they love, they are actually giving up themselves. And research into what makes a happy marriage tells us that giving up yourself isn’t what makes a marriage truly satisfying.
Being married and staying true to yourself
What does make marriages great is each person showing interest in their partner’s passions, but also staying true to themselves. That means having friends and family you go hiking with if your spouse isn’t into it, and your spouse having friends and family to go to country music concerts with if that’s not your thing. In healthy relationships, sometimes your interests overlap and sometimes they don’t, and you both have space and the social network to pursue what you love.
Expecting too much out of your partner
One of the hallmarks of marriage addiction is believing that one person and only one can give you everything you need. But that’s a fantasy that will never come true. We all need more than one person in our lives; we all need a community of people who love us. It’s exhausting—and unfair—to ask your partner to be everything for you. And it’s exhausting—and inauthentic—for you to try to be everything to them.
How do you break that habit?
Start by making a list of all the things you have been denying yourself because you were focusing on your partner. Know what you’ve been giving up, and you’ll know what you need to start giving yourself now. Write down all the things you haven’t done because you thought your partner wouldn’t enjoy them: romantic movies, Thai food, bicycling, visiting your family—whatever those things are. Think of all the things you’ve been missing out on and denying yourself.
Create a to-do list
Which things can you do with others (maybe invite a coworker to join you for lunch at the local Thai restaurant)? Which things are you fine with doing alone (perhaps go out to a movie when your partner is watching a sporting event on TV)?
Pay attention to how you feel—both physically and emotionally
Any time you make a big change, it will feel a little awkward and uncomfortable at first. But you might also feel relieved, giddy, light, joyful. Perhaps a combination of many feelings. Embrace the experience, whatever it is.