Learning to Have a Voice

 
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Q: I have been married for 10 years and have two young children. I grew up in a home where my father was never questioned. In my marriage, I have kept my feelings and opinions to myself. I have never opposed my husband and have allowed him to make all the major decisions. This has not always worked out well but I know he has done the best he can. My problem is that I am feeling a restlessness I cannot suppress. I long to make my own decisions and take charge of my own life. I want to speak out and find my own voice. I feel as though I can no longer “breathe” in this relationship.

A: The feeling of being “smothered” in a relationship is often a sign that there is not enough space in the relationship for each partner to have their own say and develop their own personality. It sounds as if your inner drive for individuality, which is God-given, is beginning to make itself heard. Unless you give it space to grow and develop, you may find yourself indulging in destructive behaviours.

It sounds as if you grew up in a home where you acquired the belief that the husband/father is the only one with the right to voice an opinion. It may be that you have carried this belief with you into marriage. Perhaps you have never learned to consider your own feelings about things, let alone express them.

You may have learned that women are meant to be passive in the marriage relationship. In truth, the best marriages happen when two people, fully engaged with life, decide to share their lives with each other I wonder what would happen if you talked to your husband and explained the struggle that currently exists in your heart. You may find he is eager and interested in getting to know you better, and may appreciate being able to share life’s decisions and difficulties with you. You may find he longs to share the burden of family life with you and would appreciate more active participation in decision making from you.

You may also need to spend some time thinking about what it is you want out of life. Start by writing down the values you consider important. Where is it that you are headed and what are your goals in life? The restlessness you feel, if dealt with positively, can result in greater intimacy between you and your partner, and a greater sense of fulfilment for you.