QUESTIONS & ANSWERS:
Please remember, this column is designed to help the consumer seeking
behavioral-health information, and not intended to be any form of psychotherapy or a replacement for professional, individualized services. Opinions expressed in the column are those of the columnist and do not represent the position of other SelfhelpMagazine.com staff.
I am 32 years old and I've been with the same man for 17 years, 11
of them married; there are no children. I feel as though I have never had
the opportunity to discover who I am; I am feeling a huge void in my life.
Though I can experiment a bit while married, sometimes I crave total freedom
to find about and "test" me. My husband is a good man; he treats me well and
provides well for us. Would it be unreasonable to leave a stable and secure
relationship to "find myself?"
Your situation is common to many people who have made marriage
commitments as childhood sweethearts. The teenager makes a decision for us
and the adult is stuck with it. In our complex world, a world filled with
possibilities, it is difficult for two people to grow at the same pace and in
the same direction from the time they are teenagers to the time they are in
their 30s. Frequently they grow in different directions or one grows while
the other stays still.
With that said, let's take a look at your situation. When you say that you
want to find yourself, that you have a experimented a bit, and your husband
is a good man, I get the sense that much of your desire to be free involves
dating and experimenting with other men. There is a lot more to
self-discovery than romance. Too frequently people try to fill the void in
their life through extra-marital affairs, romance, and sexuality. This form
of activity is not the substance of life anymore than dessert is the
substance of a meal. Your statement that your husband "provides well for
us" and the fact that you have no children, suggests that you might be bored
with your life. What interests do you have, how productive are you with your
time, what have you learned recently?
Perhaps before you leave your marriage, you should consider other ways to
discover who you are and what you want out of life. Perhaps increasing your
knowledge through reading and attending classes, discovering and developing
skills, investigating career opportunities, participating in your community,
increasing your self-awareness through psychotherapy and self-awareness
seminars. Exploring these types of activities does not require that you
leave a marriage. Discovering your human potential does not require that you
leave a marriage. (If your husband finds these activities threatening, and
is not supportive, then you have another issue to examine.)
Once you have learned more about yourself as a person, have developed an
exciting and interesting life for yourself, then you can revisit your
relationship. If you are expecting a relationship, whether your husband or
someone else, to fulfill your life then you are asking too much from it.
Marriage enhances ones life, but you must have a life for it to enhance. It
isn't meant to be life itself.
Dr. Edward A. Dreyfus is a Clinical Psychologist,
Marriage, Family, Child Therapist, and Sex Therapist. Dr. Dreyfus has been providing
psychological services in the Los Angeles-Santa Monica area for over 30 years.
He offers individual psychotherapy to adolescents and adults, divorce mediation,
couples counseling, group therapy, and career and vocational counseling and
assessment.His book, Someone Right For You, is available in the Amazing
Dr. Dreyfus can be reached at: (310) 208-5700.