Senior Living



Dear Doug: Self-Sufficiency

Doug Mayberry on

Q: My husband passed away six years ago, and moving on has been a process. We were married for 37 years, and being on my own is strange, even now.

I never realized how much of my identity was formed by our relationship. We grew around each other with our own interests and talents. Beyond just missing my spouse, I've found myself having to change a lot more about my life than I ever could've guessed.

If anyone had asked me to describe myself, I would've said that I'm organized and responsible. But now I'm realizing how much of a team effort those qualities were!

He used to be in charge of our finances and related documents, and now I'm swamped with the responsibility. Even though I have the same accountant, I don't know how to deal with the most basic record keeping.

What should I do?

A: Most marriages involve some amount of codependency. We learn to allocate responsibilities and rely on our partners.


While reliance helps make a stable bond, on a very literal level it makes us dependent. By abdicating tasks, our own skills can begin to atrophy.

Many people find themselves in your same boat after any ended relationship.

Be willing to be uncomfortable! Going beyond your own boundaries will help you feel less hopeless, and you'll come to understand yourself a little better.

Even if you're used to depending on your spouse, self-sufficiency is an empowering exercise. Resist the urge to find someone else to depend on.


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