Dr. Buckingham: I believe that I am going through some kind of identity crisis and my marriage is in trouble as a result. My wife and I have been married for over 10 years and I have always had the spotlight on me as a successful businessman. I have made a few million dollars and have appeared on numerous high profile media platforms. In the eyes of many, I would be seen as rich and famous.
However, I retired a few years back after my 50th birthday and started to feel like a second-class citizen in my marriage. My wife is also a successful businesswoman and has garnered a lot of popularity in recent years. She is well known in certain circles and is getting the attention that I used to get. I used to feel important when we were together in public. People would serve me and I enjoyed it. Now, she gets all of the attention and I feel obsolete. Because of how I feel, I do not like to go anywhere with her. How Do I Get Over Feeling Obsolete in my Marriage?
Dear Mr. Obsolete,
Before I answer your question I believe that it is important to address your emotional state. I have worked with a few famous individuals and have learned that living in the limelight for years and returning “back to earth” can be mentally challenging. While I cannot relate to being famous, I can relate to what it feels like to be highly respected and admired. As a high-ranking active duty officer who is preparing to retire after serving 20 years of service, I am mentally preparing myself to adjust from being a respected and admired officer to establishing a new identity outside the uniformed service. I share this to say that I can relate on some level emotionally.
As you continue to search for answers, please remain mindful of how you feel. The euphoria associated with living in the limelight and feeling highly admired can be both addictive and destructive in nature. Addictive in that when you feel it, you want more of it; and destructive in that when you do not feel it you go through extreme and unhealthy means to get it. Given this, I highly recommend that you take some time to figure out what you need to do to replace the euphoric feeling of being in the limelight.
In regards to your marriage, I believe that the key to getting over feeling obsolete is to focus on your wife’s character and how she treats you, not the attention that she is getting. I do not recall you mentioning anything about her character being flawed. I assume that she supported you and made it possible for you to enjoy your time in the limelight. If this is the case, I recommend that you do the same. It is her time to shine and you should be there to support her. Don’t let your “rock star grief” ruin your marriage. Also, think about becoming a servant to your wife. In my experience, I have learned that the best high in life comes from serving others. Instead of focusing on being in the limelight, try giving back to others including your wife and see how you feel.
Remember that our feelings are ours and we are responsible for how we manage them. Do not ignore or minimize feeling obsolete, but do not project your feelings onto your wife. Marriage is about sharing, which also includes sharing the limelight. However, if you continue to struggle with feeling obsolete in your marriage, please seek professional help.
If you have questions for Dr. Dwayne Buckingham regarding relationships (married, single, etc), parenting, or personal growth and development, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: The ideas, opinions, and recommendations contained in this post are not intended as a substitute for seeking professional counseling or guidance. Any concerns or questions that you have about relationships or any other source of potential distress should be discussed with a professional, in person. The author is not liable or responsible for any personal or relational distress, loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or recommendations in this post.
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