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Losing your identity


In episode 048 of the Naked Proverbs podcast, Rich and Nik Scott discuss the danger in losing your identity in marriage.



Nik:

Welcome back to the Naked Proverbs podcast where we unclothe the truth about Black love family and marriage. My name is Nik Scott, one of your hosts and I'm here with my husband.

Rich:

What's going on? It's your boy Rich. And today we are going to talk about maintaining your identity during marriage.

Nik:

Right at the start of every episode, we always remind our listeners that we are not trained, licensed or professional therapists or counselors. We've been married for a long time and Naked Proverbs is our platform to share our advice, our stories, our experience and our opinions.

Nik:

If you haven't already, make sure that you're following the Naked Proverbs on whatever podcasting platform you listen on. And if you like what you hear, show us your love and support by leaving the Naked Proverbs a five-star review on iTunes.

Rich:

As we do with every episode, we want to start by taking a moment to say thank you for sharing this time with us.

Rich:

So, why does your identity matter? Once you are married? I mean, aren't you supposed to become one?

Nik:

You are one, but it's like you're a separate one. So, you're one but you can separate. It's like an egg. An egg is one.

Rich:

Okay,

Nik:

But you can break an egg into three separate entities and not saying that marriage is three separate entities.

Rich:

Or it could be though.

Nik:

How?

Rich:

If you put God in it?

Nik:

Oh, yeah.

Rich:

That was tight, huh?. That was good. Okay, okay.

Nik:

Yeah. Okay, so we'll say that. Let's say God, husband and wife,

Rich:

Okay.

Nik:

Right. And so, the egg is one,

Rich:

Okay.

Nik:

But you can separate that egg into three separate pieces. And then each piece has its own function.

Rich:

I love the egg now that you say this. Because like you've got that outer shell

Nik:

That's protecting.

Rich:

That's protecting, right? And that could be God let's just say, we’ll put him out there make him on outside.

Nik:

Yeah or her.

Rich:

Yes. Let's put God out there.

Nik:

Mm hmm.

Rich:

It. Him. Her.

Nik:

God.

Rich:

God. God we're gonna put God on the outside

Nik:

God's on the outside protecting.

Rich:

Then you have that, the whitey, white stuff, right? That's how you get egg white

Nik:

Egg white.

Rich:

Egg white. Okay, that could be the husband. Because it's, it's high in protein.

Nik:

Well, and also right, when you think about like an egg, I like my eggs over medium and the white, the egg white protects the yolk in a way to where you don't even see that the yolk is broken are runny until you break through the white. So, the white is also in our analogy is kind of protecting.

Rich:

Okay, and then you got the yellow stuff that's high in cholesterol and give you heart attack. So, that's what I was trying to get to.

Nik:

Oh, you're trying to say that the wife gives husbands heart attacks?

Rich:

No, because technically if we're using the egg example

Nik:

Okay. So, I'm trying to

Rich:

The white part of the egg don't get a heart attack, because of the yellow part of the egg. I was just saying that it's higher cholesterol and can give you a heart attack.

Rich:

So, what's important

Nik:

And wives give husbands heart attacks. That's what you was trying to say on the low.

Nik:

I'm trying to be all, you know, with a good analogy, and then you turn it around to find a way to talk about wives.

Rich:

No. We were talking, we were supposed to be talking about

Nik:

Identity.

Rich:

Maintaining your identity, right?

Nik:

Yes.

Rich:

And I was saying that that three egg piece that you came up with was amazing. And then I just happen to remember that oh, that's right. The yellow part also is high in cholesterol, because my doctor said I shouldn't eat a whole lot of the yellow part.

Nik:

But it's also high in nutrients, too.

Rich:

Right. Right. You're right. But this has nothing to do with, we were just talking about the, the, the qualities of an egg. We weren't talking about a marriage at that point.

Nik:

But we were using the egg as an analogy for marriage. The point is,

Rich:

You need to maintain your identity like that egg.

Nik:

Exactly.

Rich:

Okay. So

Nik:

Not that wives give husbands heart attacks

Rich:

No. That. I never said that.

Nik:

I said it because that's what you were implying.

Rich:

No, what I was saying was that it's high cholesterol, which is not good because it clogs up your arteries and give you a heart attack.

Nik:

But what? Okay, never mind. You know what? I see you. I see you went fishing yesterday and you trying to bait me in. And I took, I took a little nibble,

Rich:

You look like that a little perches we was catching yesterday. Jumping on that a little worm nibbling on it.

Nik:

I took a little nibble

Rich:

Next thing you know you, you done got hooked in the mouth.

Nik:

But ain't about to get hooked.

Rich:

We're saying that it's important that you maintain an identity even though you are two individual people that have become one. You're saying like an egg, you each have a purpose. you each have a identity that is easily recognizable, and it should be maintained.

Nik:

Easily recognizable, and each has its own function.

Rich:

Okay.

Nik:

So, in a marriage, I have my own function as a wife, you have your own function as a husband, however, our marriage is what brings us together. We were two individuals before we got married. And we're still two individuals now that we are married, we don't agree on everything. We don't like everything. We don't share common interest about everything. So, we're not literally one person. But in our marriage, we're a team. We're a unit, we're a partnership. So, there are facets of both of our identities that have to merge and become one so that we can be stronger.

Rich:

Mm hmm. I agree. And I think that's great. Because, you know, I always thing, especially since we have been married, you know, for a couple of decades and for you know, a long time it seems like, when you first get married, it is all about oh my god, we do everything together, and we wash our hair together and we take long walks together and we eat together and everything we do is together. And that's cute. And I think that it's great because it does allow you to connect and to bond and to become one in the sense like you gave. But they're still an important piece of having your own identity, even when you are newly married as well as when you've been married for a while. And if you don't have that, it's actually a dangerous thing.

Nik:

In my experience, and again, I'm not an expert at this in terms of identifying identities within a marriage and having studied or talked to numerous couples or anything like that. But in my experience, women fall victim to losing their identity much more frequently and easily than men. And as a woman, I understand how that happens. It happened to me for a long time at the beginning of our marriage, and when we first had our kids, it's because we are the caregivers and we're the ones that really do hold this family together. We're the supporters. We're the encouragers. We're the nurturers. So, we're the ones that bring that

Rich:

Yolk.

Nik:

We bring the yolk to the marriage. No, but I mean, honestly, we're the ones that are making sure that that family gets held together.

Nik:

I remember several episodes ago, at the beginning of the year, we talked about the Power finale. And Tasha's role in that family and how she was the one to hold that family together. And that is a consistent identity of women holding it down, holding the family together, and it's easy to get caught up in everything that everybody else is doing and forget about yourself.

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Rich:

We all have our titles and our duties and our responsibilities in a marriage. You know whether that's you’re a mom, you’re a dad, you know, like, we are parents, right? So, there's a moment where it's like, Daddy, this is what we need you to do, Mommy, this is what we need from you. And you can get stuck in those identities, those roles, to the point that they take over who you are, you know, you can say, well, I don't have time to go hang out with my girls. I don't have time to go dancing. I don't have time to go do those things that I love to do, or the things that make me who I am because I have so many different things, I have to take care of. And so, I think it's very important that in a marriage, you remember who you are. And because like I said, it is very easy to get stuck in, well, I get up I go to work, I come home, I cook a meal or whatever that looks like, those are just roles. That's not who you are. Those are just like responsibilities. But that is not really what identifies you as the human being that you are.

Nik:

So, I want to back up. We say, every week that we're not therapists, counselors, or any of those types of professional people. And sometimes I might even say, even though some of what you hear might make you feel like you're in a therapy session, I feel like I need to have a therapy session right now. We got married very young. And I was twenty

Rich:

Three

Nik:

Yep,

Rich:

Cause I was 24.

Nik:

I was 23 years old. And my upbringing and my childhood was such that didn't allow me the opportunity to really explore and know who Nik is. Like, who are you? I knew that I was opinionated, like there were certain qualities and characteristics about myself that I knew when we got married, but in terms of what do you like to do? What are your hobbies? How do you like to spend time when you're by yourself? I had no idea how to do that. So, coming into a marriage and expecting someone, especially if you get married young the way that we did to know exactly who they are. That's a big it's almost like a challenge. It's almost like you would set your marriage up for failure because now we're in a situation where these two people are growing together. One person knows who they are. One person is still self-discovering and trying to figure that out that can cause problems.

Rich:

And I would say that, you know, especially when you get married young, you don't know who you are. You are who your parents have told you you are or who society has told you you should be or who you believe you should be. But I would say that both of us have changed over the years. And with that, it has changed some of who we are in the sense of our identity of, you know, and not just Well, we got married, and we weren't parents and our parents, but just across the board. Our identity, your identity is I don't want to say that it's fluid, but I think that it can change over time. And I think that that's important as a spouse to understand that the man or the woman that I married, may change over time, and their identity is just as important that they're able to, that they're given the freedom to let that change with them. That it's not like, well, you know what, when I married you, all you liked to do was hike and fish and hunt. And that's it. Well, maybe now there's more to my identity. And maybe it's like, well, now I want to volunteer, and I want to do some things in the community that I wasn't doing before because I found that that's important to me, and that it gives me life or it gives me breath, right? And I think that as a spouse, you have to be willing to give your spouse that freedom to let their identity really be developed over time.

Nik:

And support them in that. And I know we have our notes. And we take time every week to make sure that we have some great talking points. But I think it might be a more valuable conversation to kind of talk about how we worked through it because we were married young. We weren't married in college, we had children in college. And we are still married. And we're happily married. How did we do it? How did we not end up in divorce court when we were growing through discovering our identities and figuring out our different roles in this marriage and not being consumed. Because I admitted a few minutes ago that yeah, I was Rich's wife and the girls' mom for a good part of our marriage.

Rich:

Yeah. And I would agree with that. Especially when I think back to, because your career can be a huge part of your identity, right?

Nik:

Yes.

Rich:

So, when I was in the military, even before I became an officer, when I was an enlisted person, it was like, hey, we got to go to this ball. Like there's some things that have to happen when you're in the military, whether you want to or not. Whether you really want to participate or not, it's kind of just that's the way it is, right? If you want to have a great career, there is some conformity, conforming, that happens. And with that your spouse has no choice but to conform. Or they can be like, well, that ain't me. And that can actually damage your, your opportunities and things. So, at the end of the day, there were a lot of years during my military years where you had to be the military spouse, you had to just kind of fall in line and roll with it. And that did take away from your identity in a lot of ways because you had to be there to help me with my identity.

Nik:

Or even the opportunity for me to explore what my identity was. Like who, who was Nik? I had no idea who Nik was. Nik was Rich's wife and I took pride, and I do take pride in that role, and the girls' mother. And again, I take pride in that role. But I would say a turning point for me was when people wouldn't even remember meeting me. And I am unforgettable.

Rich:

It is so true.

Nik:

Like, literally, I am unforgettable. And when people would not remember who I was, unless I was with you, or with the girls, I started having a problem with that I had to do some self-reflection like, hold up. Like, I'm the reason why this thing is rolling like. If anybody you need to remembering and it's me. So, I really had to take, take a step back and, and be honest with myself as to why and how did I allow that to happen?

Rich:

That's a big part of the question. How does this happen? Right? Because it's almost like gaining weight. It just sneaks up on you. One day you look up and you're like, dang. You get out the shower and you don't recognize the person in the mirror, right? And I would say that losing your identity is the same thing. It's not something that, it's not this, Tina Turner and Ike, you not going to go dance with your friends, or you not going to go out with you, your boys or whatever that identity piece is. That's not how it happens.

Rich:

It's more like, well, you know what, baby I need you to come do this with me. And whatever it is that you had on your agenda, on your plate can sometimes be pushed to the backburner. And it starts to slowly erode your identity. Because you're now no longer doing what you were created for what, what really makes you who you are, you're doing what your spouse needs. And it becomes this just your spouse is so dependent on you, and you are trying to be a good husband or a good wife that you're just like, hey, I'm gonna be there for them because they need me. And then before you know it, you are lost. There's no more you. It's just well, Rich's wife.

Nik:

I would say and I hesitate just a little bit to even say this because it's such a cliché and on trend term, but I would say self-care is a big part of it. And I saw a, a Instagram post today, and it listed out nine different ways to rest. And the nine different ways that it lists our time away, permission to not be helpful, something unproductive, connection to art and nature, solitude to recharge, a break from responsibility, stillness to decompress, a safe space, and alone time at home.

Nik:

So, those are nine different ways that this Instagram post described to, to rest. A lot of times what happened with me especially, is I didn't take any have those moments. I didn't take those moments for myself to rest. I would be so consumed with what was going on with the girls and the house and my husband and making sure that things were taking care of, that I neglected myself. So, I did not have that self-care. I didn't have those, those opportunities to really unpack. You know, I'm a processor, and I have to process things. And if I'm just going, going, going, going, going, going, going, I have no time to process I have no time to really understand or grasp what's going on around me because I'm just so in the mix.

Rich:

You know, you said something earlier, that we kind of just said, and then we kept moving, which was, how do we not end up divorced, right? And when I was doing my research, it actually said that losing your identity is one of the leading causes of divorce.

Nik:

I can see that.

Rich:

And when you stop and think about the things you just said about self-care, right? While we're talking about losing And your identity, but then we start talking about self-care. And it's like, oh my god, these things are parallel and criss crossing and touching each other in ways that I never even began to think of. But I could see how you could end up divorced because it really is you are not taking care of yourself, when you begin to lose your identity. And when you lose your identity and you fail to take care of yourself, then there is some resentment, there's some hopelessness, there's some frustration, there's some anger, because you are not being taken care of. So, to me, I think that that's really great you know, those points you brought out, because if you want to avoid divorce, there's a plethora of ways you can end up divorced right? But in the one we're talking about today, which is maintaining your identity, it's really you have to maintain some self-care.

Nik:

You got to take care of yourself. It can also create jealousy. If you have lost your identity and your spouse has been able to maintain theirs that can create a lot of jealousy. For instance, again, I could have been jealous of the fact that everybody knew who you were. Part of that has to do with your personality and my personality, you know? But the fact that nobody knew who I was, unless I was with you, like, I could have been jealous, I could have allowed that to further eat away from knowing or wanting to know who I am as a person. I could have made it your problem, and not my problem. Because if I'm losing my identity, which I did, then that's a me problem. That's not really a you problem. I do think that you know, as a spouse, do you have some responsibility to make sure that I'm engaged or you know, some of the things that I want to do are happening or whatever it is, there is a little bit of responsibility. But in terms of truly losing your identity, it is on whoever the spouse is that's losing their identity. You have to take a step back and ask yourself how did this happen? And be honest. Be honest. Because most of the culpability falls on you. It really does.

Rich:

And I think a great example of that, which is a very simple one, but a great example of it falls on you. I am not a big dancer, right? Everybody knows that, that knows us knows, look, I bought, I mean, I'll get out there and dance with you know, but that's not something that I'm really passionate about. Not something that really, I care about. But for you, you enjoy that. You like to get out there, you're, you know, let your free spirit go, right. And so, to me, it's like we could be at a wedding, we could be at a club, we could be at an event, and you'll be like, you want to dance, and I might get out there for about three minutes. You know then my feet hurt, my ankles as strong as they used to be. I don't know. But I'm like, okay, I've had enough. That doesn't mean that your dancing has to stop. And I think that's what being able to say you know, your identity doesn't have to stop. You're dancing. You continue to dance on the dance floor. You continue to live your life and enjoy yourself. Just because that ain't my cup of tea doesn't mean it can't be a cup of tea up in our house anymore.

Nik:

So, I do think that's a great example of how you can support your spouse when they are self-discovering who they are. You didn't necessarily recognize that I had lost my identity. I recognized that I lost my identity. And because I recognized it, I had to take the steps to rectify it. And you could have resisted. You could have totally been like, no, you can't dance because this dude over there is watching you. That person over there is doing this. Like you could have allowed that to make you so uncomfortable that you're like, no, this can't happen. And I think that's another opportunity for conflict to happen. Right. We talked about the person who has lost their identity having resentment and anger. jealousy and all those other things toward the person who hasn't lost their identity. But what about the spouse who's finding their identity, and some of the, the tension and friction that can happen with that.

Rich:

I just look at it like, you should want your spouse to have an identity. Because when your spouse knows who they are, and they're able to walk in that, outside of their roles and responsibilities, but who they are, what makes them tick, what puts a smile on their face, it bleeds into your marriage. Like it makes like, you know, you going to hang out with your girls, or you going to a concert or something that, it's like I don't have to be on your hip every second, right? But then when you come home, you are relaxed, just like I'm relaxed when I get an opportunity to go camping or hiking or just get away from you know, doesn't have to be something overnight or long or hard. It's just like when you're able to do the things that refresh you, though self-care things. Those things that are who you are, then it does help your marriage. It strengthens your marriage. It builds your marriage because you're able to come back to your marriage as a full restored, refreshed person and able to just get it in and do whatever it is that you're trying to do even more so.

Nik:

And that's when the one is more powerful. There has to be power in the separate entities before you can come together and be that powerful one in your marriage.

Rich:

I mean, what is it apps, absence makes the heart grow fonder? Is that what it is?

Nik:

Yeah, but how does that

Rich:

Because. I think that sometimes when you are in your identity or being who it is, you're called to be and who you want to be, that it does require you to be separate. It requires you not to be together as a husband and wife or requires, you know, this alone time the self-care we've talked about. And to me that can create an even deeper relationship between the two of you. When, that's why I said, See how that could work.

Nik:

I get it. I'm picking up what to putting down.

Rich:

Yeah, smelling when I'm cooking?

Nik:

I smell what you're cooking.

Rich:

Alright. So, at the end of the day, it's important to remember that you are a power by yourself, as well as, what you say your movement by yourself.

Nik:

I'm a movement by myself, but I'm a force when we're together. Baby I'm good

Rich:

Well, you can't be

Nik:

by myself.

Rich:

Oh. I didn't know you were going to sing the song. Go ahead. I'm sorry.

Nik:

You know I be getting it. I'm a performer. That's part of my identity.

Rich:

I'm sorry. I didn't, I didn't know that we were about to sing the whole song. I thought we were going to stay focused and get, get to the end.

Nik:

I'm focused. See. That's part of your identity.

Rich:

Right. I like to be focused; you like to be kind of all over. Don't take offense to the truth.

Rich:

At the end of the day it's a, it's important to remember that you each individually bring something to the table. And it's almost like you said in the beginning, we're like an egg, right? So, remember that you have a part to play in your marriage, and your identity, your individual identity is just as important as your combined identity.

Nik:

Thanks, so much for tuning in to this week's episode of the Naked Proverbs podcast. We truly want you to have a happy marriage. We want you to thrive in your marriages and indulge in your spouses on a regular basis. Don't forget to follow the Naked Proverbs on whatever podcasting platform you listen on. And we will talk to you on the next one.

Rich:

Peace.

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