Letting go of a deeply patriarchal belief system and adjusting to marriage all at once was quite a delicate battle for me. Nope, delicate isn't the word. Only now has the "battle" aspect of it subsided and morphed into a kinder, more gentle reality.
As my spouse would often go do things that Spousie wanted to do, I often felt left behind and I didn't feel very strongly that I could go and do the things that I wanted to do. At times I would, but I felt I had to sport a sort of "screw you!" attitude towards my spouse in order to exert some particle of independence. It was a very defensive mode; I needed to be callous and uncaring to what my spouse might think. It didn't like having to cop that attitude. It just didn't feel natural or "work" for me, but that was all I could muster. And I didn't do it very often.
Recently I've realized my spouse knows what things Spousie likes to do (which don't always involve me) and Spousie does them. Spousie did consult me about it, and initially I wasn't too keen on it. But I've begun to perceive my situation with new eyes--I now a few evenings free for myself each week. The real revelation is that I have morphed from a "screw you" attitude towards my spouse, and begun to think "How do I want to nurture myself with this time that I now have?"
One Friday night I went to Barnes & Noble where I picked up some books that looked interesting and started reading. (I did a little people watching, too.) I came home rejuvenated! Spousie noticed and was happy for me. Sometimes I spend the night going to bed early after a long week. One of these days I'll get around to making some cards or pull out my pastels and do some artwork! Woo-hoo!
As I've reflected on this newly found time for self-nuturing, I realized the growth and evolution from my original self-defense mentality ("screw you") to one of self-empowerment and self-respect. It feels much more natural and "works" for me. My growing self-respect has also seemed to correlate with my spouse respecting me more too. I need to model how I want to be treated--with respect. The evolution has shifted from fearing external factors (thus the self-defensive stance), to taking internal responsibility. I am able to meet my own needs.
More on this later. There's more to discuss regarding this shift of perception. It's been a year of growth!