5 things you should NEVER have to give up for your spouse in marriage

I think it’s important to draw a line with your spouse in marriage. Don’t be confused by the picture above. This blog is not gender specific. It is for males and females.

I write a lot about couples adjusting to marriage and the expectations they bring to the relationship. It is a give and take process, with both sides needing to be open and flexible with each other.

Yet, there is area that is untouchable. It is off limits. You should NEVER have to give this up for your spouse.

If you give it away your marriage is doomed to failure.

Once you give it away, it is hard to get back. Not impossible–but it will take hard work on your part.

What is it?

It is your inner core–your center. Your SELF-IDENTITY.

When it comes to your self-identity it is important that you draw a line with your spouse.

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Are you in a symbiotic relationship?

A symbiotic relationship is one in which one person’s identity is absorbed by the other. This amounts to a loss of self and a one-sided relationship.

You should never feel obligated to give up who you are to make your mate happy. You own this space. Under no circumstances should you be expected to surrender your core self to your spouse.

I deal with this subject at length in my book:Bringing Respect Back: Communicating Without the Conflict.

Listen to the All About We Podcast. I share the most powerful way you can draw a line with your spouse. Click the play button above.

Here are 5 things you should never have to give up for your spouse.
Never give up your boundaries in marriage
Boundaries are limits we set for ourselves or with others to feel safe and be healthy. Here are two examples:
  • Personal limit: food and alcohol intake to maintain good health. 
  • Interpersonal limit: holding to your “no” with others in a matter of personal concern
Maintaining personal boundaries is about self-respect. How you want to be treated. You have a right to exercise personal boundaries when a conflict with your spouse elevates. A respectful partner will honor your need for emotional and physical space when requested. Personal boundaries include a level of comfort in sexual activity. You have a right and responsibility to express to your spouse what you like and don’t like. Exploration of sexual experiences must have mutual consent to proceed. A spouse’s “no” must be honored at all times. Violation of sexual boundaries is abuse.
Never give up your personal interests
Personal interests are part of your self-identity and seek expression. Pursuit of personal interests keeps your life interesting. One of the best things you can do for your spouse is support his or her personal interests. Many of you know one of my favorite personal interests is playing basketball. I play twice a week. The other day I was driving my buddy home after playing when my wife called. She was on the speaker phone so he could hear our conversation. Here’s what he heard her say: “Hey big boy, how was basketball today? Did you dominate?” Some spouses who do not share the personal interests of the other may feel threatened by them–and as a result try to guilt the person into giving them up. Control over personal interests should always remain with you. If your personal interests are getting in the way of your marriage or family life then it is important to examine it and either pair it back or put it on hold till later. Sometimes a spouse is not trying to take it away but to get their partner to manage it better. In situations like this, be open to feedback.
Never give up your personality
Personalities are formed early in life. They are somewhat fixed. If you’re an introvert, you should not feel compelled to become an extrovert. Differences in personality can contribute to a healthy relationship. We seek in others what we lack in ourselves. We need to feel comfortable in our own skin at all times. A spouse who constantly criticizes the other about the way the express their personality is lacking in acceptance. Acceptance and tolerance of differences can go a long way in building a healthy marriage.
Never give up your close relationships
Many of our closest relationships pre-date marriage. Some marriage partners feel threatened by family and or friendship ties. Spouse’s who attempt to form a wedge in these relationships are infringing on personal boundaries. Your partner does not have a right to dictate your relationships. Do not allow this! Likewise, do not allow your close relationships to interfere in your marriage. Boundaries go both ways. The only exception is if your family and friends are legitimately concerned that your spouse is pulling you away, then you may want to consider what they’re saying.
Never give up your personal values
Moral, ethical, and spiritual values are in your domain of control. Do not think you have to give them up to a spouse who doesn’t agree. Your values about money, politics, social issues, or any other subject is deeply personal and should be respected. Dialog about values can be healthy and modifying your beliefs is normal. However, you should never feel pressured to change your values because your spouse doesn’t agree with them. Sometimes the best choice is to agree to disagree.

Now it’s your turn

How are you doing protecting your self-identity? Are you giving away control of your life in one or more of these five domains? Maybe it’s time for you to start drawing a line. Choose one area to act.