Who Am I Really?

Who am I really?

Monday I announced that I was opening up Confessions of a Terrible Husband to additional writers who are committed to providing even more great content to help you and me improve our marriages.

Today is the second post by one of our new contributors and I could not be more excited.

Please join me in welcoming one of my marriage mentors, Joanne Miller, who has been married to one of my other marriage mentors, Dan Miller, for over 40 years!  Dan and Joanne showed me what it looks like to have a great marriage.

Observing them relate with each other at an event they hosted in May 2013 transformed me and my marriage, and kicked off this crazy little thing called Confessions of a Terrible Husband.

Joanne has agreed to provide multiple posts that I know will provide you and me with an incredible perspective on love and marriage.

Be sure to connect with her and give her a warm welcome to Confessions of a Terrible Husband!

– Nick

I am often asked how I kept my own sense of self while being married to an entrepreneur with a strong personality. The question always evokes a lot of angst in me because it is not easy to answer.

As the oldest daughter of a single mother of three girls, I often filled the role of Mom to my younger sisters. I was an innate nurturer. My family jokes that I can nurture a rock.

Early in our marriage (back in 1968) Dan made it clear he didn’t expect me to be a clone of him or to put him on a pedestal from which he would eventually topple. He has always encouraged me to be ME. Admittedly, he is the stronger personality but his desire has never been to dominate or control.

Because I never really had a clear sense of who I was but was easily dominated by a stronger personality, maintaining a sense of my own authenticity was not something I thought about much. Back in those days (decades ago) I just wanted to create a home full of peace and love. The two things I craved most and often didn’t feel growing up.

I sought out mentors from our church whose home life I admired. I watched and listened and quickly adapted the tools to having an environment Dan and our children were happy to come home to. When we started having children, I continued to learn from others around me and from books and tapes how to create a home where everyone had peace and felt love. It has been my life’s mission.

Did I get lost along the way? You tell me. I had the gift of nurturing from the time I was old enough to have my first baby doll to the when my youngest sister was born and began to look at me as her mother (she still does). I used my gift throughout the years of parenting and being a staunch supporter of my husband through all the roller coaster rides typical of an entrepreneurial life style.

But, here is the irony. When I turned 50 I had a major mid-life crisis. Trite I know. But it happened nonetheless. I feared facing empty-nest as my last child was headed off to college. I was overwhelmed with depression and physical symptoms that led to a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, an incurable disease.

I looked at myself in the mirror and at age 50 no longer looked like the young girl who modeled early in our marriage. It was a very difficult time for me. I remember like it was yesterday, sitting with Dan, weeping and asking him, “What do I do now? My children no longer need me. I have been downsized! Or fired!” (I spoke in terms I knew he would understand!) Have you ever had head knowledge you couldn’t get your heart to accept?

Dan patiently pointed out to me that I simply needed to take my gifts and shift them to a different focus. I exclaimed that I didn’t even know what my gifts were. I had just been a mom and wife! And I had done a darn good job of it. I could help others see their gifts and value but I had trouble seeing my own. Dan helped me recognize my worth as a nurturer and pointed out that he had often witnessed how friends and clients gained new hope and belief in themselves through my words and love and had made significant changes in their lives.

I began to see I had a message of love and hope that was valued by others. I could be used as a vessel to pour into their lives. It was the beginning of really understanding my gifts and that I had been using them all along. This new season in my life opened up amazing opportunities for growth and exploration and helped me get through a difficult time. So you tell me. Did I lose myself along the way or did I just gradually discover who was my authentic self?

Joanne Miller has been happily married for over four decades to career coach and author Dan Miller (48 Days To the Work You Love).  She has authored four children's books and has a new book for grown ups co-authored with artist Dorsey McHugh called Be Your Finest ArtShe and Dan have three grown children and twelve grandchildren and lots of years living the entrepreneurial roller-coaster life of adventure!

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