Independence in marriage
On a coaching call this week Ben was asked the question: "How do I maintain independence and have a happy marriage?"
When we say "I do", many of us are determined not to change; willing to sacrifice, but not too much; happy to compromise but not always.
Before long though we start to notice we're compromising more than we thought we would, we've sacrificed too much; we've changed. Independence in marriage is not only possible, it's vital. Why? Quite simply because we're worth it.
When we start to lose ourself in marriage it's usually a sign that our self worth is low, in some cases non-existent. This can happen for a number of reasons, many of us in fact grow up with such low self-esteem that losing ourselves in marriage comes as a relief at first... But the niggle does come: The "Who am I?" questions begin and the "what do I really want?" start to become a difficult and lonely conversation in your own mind. And that's why it's essential we maintain our own sense of self, our own independence when married.
Sometimes we just want to take a different path! and that's ok.
The best ways to achieve independence in marriage are in the following three ways:
1. Remember you have choices
Your choices might not be popular, they might rub your partner up the wrong way, they might seem scary or odd but you do have them -- and you have a right to execute them. But make sure your partner knows how you're feeling, what you're wanting and what you're considering.
2. You are responsible for those choices
There will be consequences of your choices. Consequences aren't always bad! But if the consequences affect your partner (and they likely will) then ask how they feel about it, do some of the details need to change? Can the timing or location be different?
3. Scrap your expectations
There isn't much of a bigger killer of marriage, than expectations. Whatever expectations you have of your partner, scrap them. They will otherwise be a source of anger for you - and your partner. You cannot expect autonomy in marriage and not also give it. Therefore if you want to be accepted for who you are, if you want independence, if you want to execute your choices, you have to allow your partner the same freedom.
Some things to consider:
Having independence does not mean you get to do what you want when you want. By all means do, but it will likely end in separation. Remember that you are a team now and that whilst independence is important, it cannot be done without consideration of your partner. Discuss what you would like as individuals; what's important to you and look at your choices together.
A happy marriage consists of two independent people working together, not two people working together independently.
Photograph courtesy of pixabay