What’s left when two become one?

As you know (or should know by now), I am using my blog to work out some of my relationship issues.  One of the questions stuck in the back of my mind and I would love for some married couples or people in long term relationships to help me with is:

What’s left when two become one?

When you are single or dating, you each have your own life, your own friends, most of the time you each have your own place.  However, it seems like when you get married everything is supposed to combine.  I was an only child for 13 years and by the time my brother was born, I was packing up to go to boarding school.  For two years I shared a room but my roommates were super cool and it was only for a few months during the year.  At Vanderbilt I had a single room during my first year and moved off campus into a one bedroom apartment.  I hope you can see where this is going.  I haven’t ever really had to share a space or my stuff.  I have been independent since I was 15 and wonder how I will cope with joining forces to become one.  Aside from my son, I have only shared space with one boyfriend, concluding that relationship, I didn’t think I would ever want to live with another man.

One theory about joining forces that I have heard is that if it is true love then losing a part of yourself won’t matter.  I have also heard that you don’t really lose a part of yourself, you combine to become a better working unit.  Unfortunately, this is not what I’ve seen.  I’ve seen couples get married and immediately think that they possess the other person.  I have seen couples still trying to operate as single units.  I have seen people struggle to reestablish their identity after saying, “I do” because they don’t know if they are still the same person or if they should become someone else.

These are some questions that I have and hopefully the answers will help me become a better half of my future partnership.  When two become one in a marriage…

  • do you have to like your partner’s friends or it is ok to stick with your own friends?
  • is it necessary to combine finances or can you keep separate finances and contribute to a household account?
  • how much alone time are you allowed to have or does that defeat the intent of becoming a unit?
  • do you have to take all of your vacations together or are girl/boy’s trips ok?
  • can you split up during the holidays and each go to your own family’s celebration or do you have to travel as a unit?

I have many other questions but let’s start with these.  I am anxious to hear your thoughts…

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6 thoughts on “What’s left when two become one?

  1. Great topic! Now,I’m not married, but I’m engaged, and this is my view:

    – I don’t think you have to like your partner’s friends. I mean, I think Chris’s friends are cool, but I’m don’t hang out with them like that, and I don’t plan to start. If you have the same friends great; if not, that’s great, too. At least that’s how I see it.

    – Right now, we are planning to have one joint account for bills and things like that and our separate accounts. As long as both parties are happy with what the other is contributing financially, I don’t see the need for one joint account.

    – We recently discussed the alone time thing, and we both agree that we need and want alone time. And I think alone time is good for anyone, though, married or not.

    – I think separate trips with friends are okay, and I think it’s okay to split during the holidays, just not every single holiday.

    I don’t see myself changing a whole lot after marriage, and I don’t see it as losing a part of myself. I do think it’s a balance of looking out for yourself and looking out for the unit.(Does that make sense?)

    I’m sure I’ll probably (maybe?) do more cooking and become less selfish; and when I have kids, I’m sure I’ll be more maternal, but I don’t really see a reason to change who I am.

    I hope this makes sense! LoL

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  2. I’ve been married for 3years going on my fourth in October and am still in the honeymoon stage (thank God)

    I don’t believe that one looses self when dealing with marriage. If anything, it is the meeting of two individuals willing to share each other’s personalities.

    Opposites attract!

    Marriage is all about commitment… And all the questions posed in your post boil down to exactly that. The ability to be able to commit to each other whether it be though finances, friendships, travels or alone time.

    I think that coming to an understanding and discussing things throughly before walking down the aisle is the way to go.

    Of course, not everything can be planned… But such is life.

    This may sound cliche, but truth of the matter is… it works.

    Hope this was helpful!

    To Marriage, Love and Commitments!

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    • Congrats on three years of marriage and counting. That is a blessing and it is encouraging to know that maintaining a sense of self is possible when combining your life with someone else.

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  3. kd says:

    Great questions. I’m speaking from the perspective of one who has been married 23 years. Yes, we’ve had some rough times, but it’s a happy partnership.

    I guess the first thing I would say is that if it’s the right relationship based on honest, true love, there will be no worry about “me” vs “he” vs “us.” You are enhancing who you already are, not losing or even merging identities. If it’s the right partner for you, you will be allowed to be your own person and will be encouraged as you explore opportunities for friendships and interests – and you will allow the same for your partner. That has been maybe THE most important factor in our successful marriage. Encouragement and support is crucial! But be sure you also find shared interests to participate in.

    Related to that, most of our social life is together, and we have certainly formed new friendships as a couple, but we each do things separately with our own friends, too. It’s not necessary to do EVERYTHING together, although at first you may just WANT to because you love being together. If you don’t care for each others’ friends, it relieves a lot of frustration and disappointment to pursue those friendships mostly as an individual rather than a couple – as long as your relationship as a couple is the primary focus, not a situation where you spend more time individually with friends than together. And always remember that alone time is NECESSARY. Hubby and I openly admit (and tease) that we love when the other goes out of town for a few days so we can have the house to ourselves. But we enjoy that time only because we know the other will be back soon.

    Same with family holidays – it’s OK to go separately if you have dual invitations or if either of you is truly unhappy with the other’s family. (We struggled with this at first because he had children to consider – we alternated some years and went our own ways other years, but once his kids were grown we started our own tradition of spending holidays out of town, just the two of us.) That is something you will have to work out, but don’t be afraid to try different plans and be flexible from year to year depending on circumstances at the time.

    Other details will need to be worked out, such as the finances. We pooled everything for the first few years, but we did not share the same philosophies on money, and it became more and more difficult to buy something without feeling I needed to justify it. (I am quite frugal, but also believe in occasional small rewards so the frugality does not become a point of resentment. He, at 16 years older, leans more toward reluctance to spend anything, as retirement is now coming into play.) So I now write him a check equal to the majority of my paycheck. All of our accounts are in both names, but “his” account is for the monthly/quarterly bills, grocery store purchases and his clothes, “my” account is health foods/supplements and most of the dining out or fun outings as well as my clothes. But we always acknowledge that it’s all “our” money and either of us may pay for any daily expenditure.

    I hope my perspective gives you something to consider. Best wishes as you consider a new phase of your life!

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    • I can not fully communicate how important it is to me to have received this comment. One of the problems that many young relationships have is not receiving advice from someone who has “been there and done that.” After 23 years of marriage, your advice is grounded in reality and provides a great framework for some of us youngsters. Thank you so much for sharing.

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