5 Steps to Stay an Individual in Your Relationship

Written by: Debbie Stokes

Did you know it’s possible to remain who you are in a relationship or marriage?

Did you know it’s possible to have your own thinking and space?

Well guess what? It is… when it’s healthy.

I’ve been with the same guy for 42 years in June. Married 31 years and dated for 11 years before getting married.

It’s been a real adventure. Fun. Magnetic. Compassionate. Loving. Engaging. Respectful. Trusting. Captivating, and Honorable.

It’s one thing I can honestly say I would do all over again. Haha, my heart just skipped a beat… I’m smiling!

In this union, we have learned about life, love, relationship, and each other. Like a seed, we have grown and flourished into something beautiful.

I have never given any personal relationship advice about remaining who you are within a relationship… until now.

Here are 5 things that can help people to stay an individual within their relationship.

1) Know who you are

Before you ever think about seriously going into a relationship with anyone, it is imperative you know “who” you are. At the very beginning of our relationship, I was firm on who I was.

You have to know what you want, need, dislike, like, will and won’t accept. The same holds true for the other person.

In my opinion, there should be no negotiating on this one because if there is no clarity about self you leave the door open for misguided thoughts and actions, which creates a weak foundation from the start leading to confusion and unhappiness downline.

2) Let go of baggage and heal

This is a biggie. Erykah Badu sang about carrying around baggage in her song, “Bag Lady.”

The words in her song… so powerful and true. This is an excerpt:

Bag lady you goin’ hurt your back

Dragging all them bags like that

I guess nobody ever told you

All you must hold on to

Is you, is you, is you


One day all them bags goin’ get in your way…

So pack light

Like Erykah said in her song “Pack light” and “Let it go.” And this goes both ways. In order to have a chance at a great relationship, you both have to let go of your baggage.

So many of us do this… hold onto baggage. There are so many people hurting from their past, whether it was abuse from family or other relationships, or just bad relationship experiences. They have been through what I’m going to call “a train wreck,” where they feel broken, abused, used, hurt, and doubtful about themselves and relationships.

There are some who feel worthless, not because they are but because they haven’t been able to shake what happened to them.

Then, there are those who carry the weight of their baggage and continue to find themselves falling into the same types of relationships over and over again.

As stated earlier, before you can have a healthy relationship with someone you have to let go of your baggage and heal from your pain, whether it be through therapy, prayer, meditation, coaching or a combination of them.

There has to be an intervention of healing to build self-worth and the belief that you deserve and can do better. Without healing, history will continue to repeat itself.

3) Understand your thoughts are yours

Your thoughts are yours. I repeat, Your Thoughts Are Yours!

It is your right to think for yourself. Too often women allow men to control their thinking by making decisions for them or not allowing them to have an opinion. This is an abuse of power. This is taking your control away.

Remember, your thoughts and opinions are yours and they matter.

In my relationship, I value my thoughts and therefore will not allow my husband to take away my right to think. In fact, some consider me strong-minded at times. I admit sometimes I can be… but it’s my right. I guess you can say, it’s the LEO in me (I’m smiling). At the same token, I respect his thoughts and opinions as well.

You should never let a man or your partner control what’s yours… your thinking and opinions. If a person is manipulating the thoughts and opinions of you to please themselves and what they want in your relationship, you are considered to be in an unhealthy relationship. I repeat, you are in an unhealthy relationship.

4) Never forget to set boundaries

Did you know it is perfectly okay to set boundaries when you are married or in a relationship? It has worked tremendously for my husband and me. We consciously give each other room to breathe, explore, and grow personally without restrictions or judgements. As a result, our bond as a couple is magnified and stronger.

Doing so:

    • Protects your emotions/feelings from being hurt
    • Allows each other to speak their mind without restrictions but with respect
    • Establishes the expectations of each other within the relationship and respects the needs and wants of the other person
    • Establishes boundaries of outside friends, family, and influences including in-laws, exes, and the other parent of the children
    • Creates a “me” space, time, or outlet where you can do you, take care of you, and enjoy you. Never forget about “you” in the relationship. YOU matter!
    • Prevents mental, physical, and verbal abuse because of a mutual respect for each other’s feelings and being
    • Allows each other to say “no” without feeling bad
    • Validates that each person has an opinion/voice
    • Helps you realize it’s okay to agree to disagree, however, honor the disagreement and let it go
    • Allows you to honor and respect each other’s goals and dreams as you each pursue them without jealousy or manipulation
    • Teaches you to respect each other for who you both are…It is not your place to change one another. What you see is what you get.
    • Allows you to be “you”
    • Gives you the right to set new boundaries as needed

Setting boundaries within the relationship will keep you renewed and fulfilled. It will also give you the strength and power to make decisions for yourself, allow you to change your mind, and feel free enough to speak your mind.

5) Laugh as needed

I make it my business to laugh everyday.

If you practice laughing when you are alone and when you are with your significant other, it creates an atmosphere of calmness, freshness, and openness… thereby creating togetherness and oneness at the same time.

Creating togetherness because the two of you are on the same page experiencing joy, and oneness because you each have the right and authority to laugh personally.

As a matter of fact, when each of you maneuver through your day being sure to include laughter, it not only helps to build on each of your joy experiences apart, but it offers the body some great health benefits that can enhance your happiness together.

These are some of the benefits of laughter for your health:

    • It can reduce stress
    • It can help to release feel-good chemicals in your body (endorphins)
    • It can increase blood flow through your body — to cells and organs
    • It can help with relaxation and sleep
    • And, it makes you feel so damn good

All of the steps I have mentioned can be miraculous for your relationship, and for you to stay true to yourself within the relationship.

Now, I’m not claiming to be a relationship expert, I’m am just speaking from my 42 years of experience being married.

What I know for sure is when you truly value each other as a person with a mind, opinion, and a voice; it eliminates control and manipulation. It teaches respect, eliminates competition, ensures communication, honors ethics and values, and allows each person to walk in their oneness within the togetherness.

I hope my perspective on this subject helps you.

Thanks for reading!

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8 thoughts on “5 Steps to Stay an Individual in Your Relationship”

  1. Debbie, thank you for this well written and insightful article! I too believe that it is important to know who you are and to be true to yourself in order to establish a healthy relationship with another. Recently, I began writing my personal goals in a journal and detailing my thoughts on self-discipline. I am finding that the act of putting my thoughts into writing and periodically reviewing my goals, has helped me to remain focused on the things that are important to me. Subsequently, I have been able to view any interference from others as a behavior on their part rather than a road block on mine. It is definitely more challenging to set boundaries a few years into a relationship, but very much worth the effort! Thank you for sharing the benefit of your 42 years. I wish you and your husband another 42 years together in health and happiness!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Lisa!

      Thank you so much Lisa for taking the time to read my article and for your kind words. I appreciate your support. Yes, writing down our goals and being able to look at them gives can give us clarity about what we need to do, where we need to be flexible, and show us possible changes we need to make. What I know for sure is the way we start out is not always the way we finish. Knowing that, when I look at my goals I see them as a blueprint or roadmap, but always with the option for change. Doing it that way for me eliminates the disappointments. However, having goals certainly keeps you focused.

      Good way to look at how you view the interference of others… on their part. I like that. And you are right, it is harder to set boundaries a few years into a relationship, that’s why I believe it’s so important to set them from the beginning. Then as the two grow together, they can continue to appreciate and respect each other more. Of course, this is as long as they are still both on the same page with love, joy, respect, understaning, and all the others things that come along in a healthy relationship.

      Thanks for your well wishes and I wish you the best in life, love, peace, and happiness.



    1. Hi there!

      Thanks! Yes, healthy boundaries are so important, not only in our relationship but in every area of our lives. They help to protect our heart, mind, body, and spirit. Thanks for commenting and supporting! Your engaging with my articles is everything.



  2. This is awesome and true. I’m teaching #WifeyChronicles and it is so similar to some of the information I am sharing with them. Continue to create these great blogs with this great info

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Thanks so much for your encouragement and I’m glad you saw value in this article. I could really speak on this topic because of my being with the same guy for 42 years. There is so much I’ve learned about people and relationships.

      Thanks for reading and suporting!


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