In marriage do we give away our “freedom”?
There is a context to the question which gives away too many details, but even in that short question I wonder what it tells us about how we view marriage of any gender.
I’ve been married for nearly 22 years, and at no point have I felt that my freedom has been removed. My feeling is lack of freedom happened with the arrival of children, and even there freedom was not lost but instead responsibility established.
Giving away our freedom in marriage plays into that notion of the other person as your ball and chain. It sees marriage as a prison, a place we cannot escape from. It becomes a room in which the corners never change, as we pace the floor in desperation knowing that the door is in front of us and yet we cannot get out. We end up longing for time off for good behaviour, and an early release from the chains that we perceive to bind us.
My understanding of marriage is about gaining freedom. We’re freed to be the person we truly are because we know love. The doors of our personality and capabilities are opened because we have the support and encouragement to explore our whole selves, without bowing to social convention because we want to be liked or loved.
Of course that understanding of marriage extends to the best of friendships and to the relationship with the divine found in faith. Finding we are loved by God opens up the possibilities of our lives to be our true selves, for in God our whole person is already revealed and so there is no escaping that which we would hide from others. But our best friendships should also allow us the freedom to be ourselves. Not the perfect, polished, careful, clean self, but instead the self that snorts with laughter; that sometimes says the wrong thing; that dresses unusually; that holds a contrary opinion.
No marriage is perfect, but in binding one to the other it becomes a place for security and growth. We find ourselves better with, than better without.
And perhaps there lies the gap for when marriage becomes the prison of harm and abuse where our freedom is no longer offered. It is a place where we should be better with, than better without. That is the hope of marriage and sometimes experience does not always match the hope.