Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

Happily me, ever after.

Byline: COVER STORY By Polly Summar

Once you tie the knot, does your sense of self - get well, tied up in knots? SAGE interviewed newlyweds and longtime wives to find out how they blend "me" with "we."

It may be uniquely a woman's problem: How do I be me and be a wife, too? It's the question everyone remembers from that classic relationship book, "Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By You?" In it, psychologists and marriage counselors Jordan and Margaret Paul write about the two ingredients every relationship needs - freedom and intimacy- and the conflicts they cause.

"Freedom and intimacy are to a person what sun and water are to a plant," they write. "Both must be present at the same time for a person to flourish."

Holding on to one's identity can be especially difficult for women, say psychologists, because so much of our sense of self is tied to nurturing and attending to others - a function that probably first evolved with the bearing of children.

Unfortunately, being "other-directed" can also lead women to a tendency to sacrifice their own needs and wants. And if you've sacrificed those, chances are good that there's a bit of resentment brewing, even if it hasn't reached the surface yet.

In this month of love and romance, we at SAGE wondered how married women deal with the dilemma of juggling both - being "me" and being a wife. To a woman, every wife we questioned knew the dilemma well.

We talked with wives at several different stages in their lives and marriages. There's Amy Kruse, 23, married just 3 1/2 years ago, and Karla Baca-Bornfield, 36, married just more than 10 years and dealing with the demands of an active 7 1/2-year-old son.

We also wanted to include women who married late in life after establishing strong identities as single women, so we talked with Mary Ellen Forte, 49, who married for the first time five years ago, and Judith Liersch, 64, who married for the first time at 52.

Whatever the age at which women marry, the Pauls explain that: "All of us, whether we know it or not, are constantly asking ourselves how much we can let ourselves think, feel, and act freely without being rejected by those we love. …

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