She catches her reflection in the window. “How appropriate,” she thinks, “I’m barely visible.” “Where did I go? I used to have ideas, thoughts, beliefs, opinions, interests of my own. Where did my spark go? Where is my passion and zest for life?”
Sadly, I see this all the time. She gives everything she has to the relationship, hoping that, in turn, she will get back what she needs – to be loved and appreciated. To be wanted. He gets angry if she disagrees? She aligns her opinions with his. He likes the house clean? She’ll work extra hard and have the cleanest house in town. He gets frustrated if she wants to spend time with him? She learns not to need.
The ‘payment’ she has been waiting for doesn’t come, and he seems to just demand more. It is never enough. She works harder and puts off her needs for another day, but the days slip into years. She longs for him to wake up one day and say, “Wow! I’ve got a wonderful wife!” The day never comes. She doesn’t know how to ask for her needs to be met, in fact, she cannot even remember what HER needs are anymore.
How poetic. She gave up HER to get something from HIM. He has no idea that was the deal they made. All he knows is there isn’t much of HER to love. When he sees her, he sees a timid, shallow and unhappy woman with no backbone. He has no idea he helped to create the thing that now disgusts him.
So how does this situation end? Unfortunately, it often ends in divorce with each person blaming the other for the relationship’s demise. She may build up resentment and harden her heart, leaving them both stuck with a cold, disconnected relationship to retire on. Or, she may feel victimized by him and slip into an affair with someone who sees the good in her that she so desperately wanted her husband to see. He, on the other hand, may get fed up with his ‘shell’ of a wife and cheat on her, feeling he deserves to have someone admire and appreciate him. Or, he might feel he can never please her so he quits trying and avoids her, feeling lonely and trapped.
Are you peering at an empty reflection, searching for the essence of the self that you lost? It is not your spouse’s fault that you feel empty. Get into therapy, now. You’ve got a lot to learn about yourself. Don’t let another minute slip through your fingers!