I'm fine if you go out. No, really, it's not a problem

Taking your autonomy and the price for not giving it.

How often do you take the time to do things on your own? Without your spouse/partner?

Or is almost every activity you do together?

Every once in a while I get an ah ha moment about what I was doing wrong in my marriage.  Usually they come out of nowhere and often hit me upside the head.

And naturally it’s when I’m doing something wrong with my new partner.

Recently, while working through the online course Rekindling Desire by Esther Perl, my partner and I came to the section about autonomy.  And suddenly a lightbulb came on.

When speaking about maintaining desire  Esther says that, “in order for desire to thrive in a relationship there needs to be a certain level of differentiation or autonomy in a relationship.”

She give examples of:

  1. Do you visit with your friends, male or female, on your own?
  2. Are your family visits always as a couple or do you see your parents on your own at times?
  3. Do you go to watch movies you really wanted to see or only ones that you agree on together?

All of these examples took me back to my marriage.

In Esther’s practice as a sex therapist she says it is most often women who come to her with this issue of, “I lose myself when I am in a relationship.”

I said this after my marriage ended and I have had coaching clients say this to me as well.

So why do we, as women, do this?

I believe that it may be due to lack of confidence and self esteem.

I met my ex husband when I was 19. I was working on self confidence and esteem the entire 24 years we were together.  In hindsight I now can see how I always had a fear of what if he meets someone else when I”m not with him? What if that person is more of everything that I am not? Happier, healthier, nicer, more energetic, fill in the blank here. Somewhere in my life I had come up with this belief that couples should always do things together. I didn’t want him having experiences without me and besides shouldn’t we be creating memories and a life together?

I just want to say here that there is a big difference in knowing what you were doing that wasn’t working and then actually behaving in a totally different manner than what you used to. (this is where that self awareness part comes into play.)

Fast forward to 3 years ago. I’m now 47 and I’ve got the self confidence thing down. I’ve spent time on my own and like it. I know that I’m ok without a partner, I want one but I don’t have to have one to be happy in my life. (trust me this took some work on my part.)

In comes the “new” relationship. This time I know I need my autonomy, because I’ve had it for 4 years and I’m not prepared to lose myself in this relationship like I did in my marriage. Because I  I know this about myself  it’s now  easier for me to also be able to give autonomy to my new partner. And as he is also 47 he has no intention of giving up his autonomy, which he clearly tells me as we begin dating.

Esther says it is  our ability to tolerate the separateness that helps to maintain desire. I say that it is key not only to maintaining desire in your partner but that it is key to being able to maintain your marriage or common law relationship, period!!

Without that autonomy there is going to come a point where you wake up and wonder , “Where did the old me go?”

What do you need to wrestle with to be able to give your spouse or partner more autonomy?

What feelings within you need to be worked through, stretched or spoken about to be able to do this?

Can you find the courage to ask for the autonomy that you’ve been wanting but have not been taking? Better still, can you find the courage to give your partner the autonomy he/she may be asking for?

Taking time to be more autonomous may be just the thing you need  to prove to yourself that your stronger than you thought you were.

 

Got an opinion on this post?  Want to share your own experience? Start a conversation below.

Know someone who could benefit from reading this? Feel free to share or pass it on.

Share

Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.

From The Blog

Sherry Turkle has a fantastic TEDTalk.  As a professor of Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT she knows a great deal about how we use technology in our lives today. As I watched it I was surprised at how it tied into my focus as a coach around courage, communication, and connection. Though her TEDTalk focused mostly on how we relate to technology and how it is changing the way in which we communicate, I believe that it also showed one of the biggest reasons why people turn to a coach for what is missing in their lives.

Recently a friend posted to Facebook this great video on why, scientifically, we are unable to maintain that amazing feeling of euphoria and butterflies we get when we first start dating. Naturally I was excited to watch this because I have now been in my current relationship for a year and a half and I have to admit there are times when I miss that feeling of elation and excitement and I have wanted to know how I could get it back. So I checked out the video.

As a woman, have you ever wished there was a manual you could read that would finally help you to understand men? One that would tell you why they seem to do frustrating things over and over again? Men, have you ever felt the same? Does the woman in your life continue to drive you crazy? Are there times when you just don’t get why she does what she does? Do you wish there was some secret formula you could get your hands on to make your life easier with your partner? Sadly there is no such manual…. or is there?   Well I think I’ve found it.