I was chatting with a new friend recently and she was sharing her journey to marriage. She is in her early 30s and has been married only about 2 years. One of the things she said struck me deeply – she said “I don’t feel like I am married, my life is the same, I still do the things I used to do”. And then as she went on, I realised that what she was describing was a life of freedom, spent with a man who had learnt his wife’s personality and who had committed himself to making and keeping her happy; and for her, happiness was the ability to go and come, do the things she needed to do without being tied down by expectations of what a wife should be.
I contrasted it to a disturbing discussion I once had with an ex. We had been together a fair bit and even though I loved him deeply, I had started to feel constrained by his expectations of me. But it seemed that I could not be me and be what he was looking for in a partner at the same time; and the more I tried to “pretzelise” myself for him, the more miserable I became. One day, in a discussion, I tried to share how much it felt I was losing myself, his answer was – a relationship is about sacrifice, you will always have to lose something for it to work”
I rarely talk about marriage on this blog – my views, at their kindest, are unconventional. I believe that too many people have a distorted view of marriage and that we make it more important – especially for women, than it really is. It seems that no matter how hard a woman works, her achievements will always be rounded up with a question on her marital status, making everything prior moot.
However I have deep deep down joy when I encounter a couple that seems to have unlocked the magic combination for a successful home – 2 people who put the other’s happiness above theirs and who live a life of honest, flawed yet wholehearted commitment to each other.
I’m not going to sit down here and give marriage advice. But this I believe strongly…marriage should be a next phase…a step forward from where you are to where you are headed. So if you feel like you have to lose something or give it up for it to work…well…
I remember speaking to an older friend once about a young man who was interested in me. My impression was that I could probably bend the guy in 2 without thinking. My friend’s answer was – “Then you should tamper your strength down so you are not stronger than him”. My spirit didn’t know why it rejected this thought – but now I know – God made me as strong as I am for a reason, and anyone for whom I have to be less in order to be satisfactory, is probably not meant to be in my life.
I’m not disputing that there will be sacrifices. I’m not disputing that you will not always feel in love. I’m not disputing that sometimes you might ask yourself if this was really the right choice. Sometimes it will be more work than pleasure.
I don’t mean those times. I mean you giving up your laughter, your spirit, your confidence. I mean the wife whose entire dress sense has changed because “Oga” doesn’t like – short/tight/coloured/straight clothes. The woman who is struggling at a job that gave her pleasure because she needs to be home in time to cook a fresh dinner. The woman who has morphed into someone no one recognises, least of all, her very own self. The woman who has given up her laugh, her zest, her spirit because in her Bible, this is what submission means.
Men I’m not talking so much to you, because the cards are already somewhat stacked in your favour. I’m talking to the woman who wants to be a wife but has no clue who she is. The one who doesn’t know that her ‘Yes” is as important as his question. The one who doesn’t realise that there is more to her purpose than the Mrs before her name.
I was speaking to a friend once and I said to her that strangely, the older I become, the more careful I am in meeting people, Her answer will probably stay in my psyche the rest of my life. She said “But of course, one has not waited this long only to get it wrong”.
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty. Freedom to be you. Every flawed inch of you. Freedom to dream and dream big. Freedom to soar. Freedom to be unapologetic in your identity.
The person God has designed for you will not diminish your “youness”, s/he will add to it, will enhance it, will make you more than you could ever be.
And to those of you thinking – “She isn’t married, what does she know”, I will say – I may not be married, but I understand losing yourself for someone else, and the emptiness of lacking an identity. I understand fear and insecurity. I understand these things. I will say that I understand finding yourself and discovering that you are fearfully and wonderfully made, loved beyond measure, a treasure. I understand being loved for myself, warts, bad habits and all.
I will say I understand freedom, and to be honest, whether you are married or single, those feelings are pretty much the same.