Marriage: Ball & Chain or Happier You?

Marriage: Ball & Chain or Happier You?

written by: Mrs. Marcia Naomi Berger
by: Mrs. Marcia Naomi Berger
Ball and chain 23c62468d62de9f76893c510db28f02a214e72fc Ball and chain 23c62468d62de9f76893c510db28f02a214e72fc

You may have heard marriage being referred to as "the old ball and chain." Many people are afraid that marriage will tie them down.

But must marriage really cost you your freedom? If you've been doing fine on your own for some time, you may think so. But actually a good marriage supports you to be free to be who you are, because partners consider each other's needs, as well as their own and consequently support each other's need to feel free to be who they are.

Sylvie explains how her marriage helps her to grow both personally and professionally. "I feel freer to take risks because I feel secure that he's there for me in the good times and in the other times too. My husband's steadfast presence and encouragement for me to take risks made it possible for me to quit my job as an editor at a law firm and start my own freelance editing business. However it turns out, he'll still be there for me." Sylvie adds that by sharing chores with her husband, each of them gains more free time.

Happy couples balance spending time together and apart in ways that suit both partners. They collaborate to make big decisions, such as about very large expenses, parenting, shared leisure time activities, and so on.

Through showing concern for each other's viewpoint, they bond over time and foster a lasting, fulfilling marriage that supports each spouse's individuality. A Good Marriage Enhances Freedom Not everyone recognizes marriage as freedom enhancing. Randall, single and in his late forties, views marriage as "the old ball and chain." He feels sorry for his well-paid coworker "whose wife wouldn't let him buy a bowling ball." Randall thought he'd dodged a bullet by staying single.

Dini, also in her forties, thinks marriage would cramp her style. "I don't want to have to eat every single meal with the same person," she declares. I wondered why she thought she'd need to.

My husband and I usually eat dinner together because we want to, and sometimes Sunday brunch. I don't know any couples who feel forced to eat three meals a day together.

Good Marriages Encourage Self-Expression A "ball and chain" union forces one spouse to squeeze into a mold formed by the other. A good marriage encourages spouses to be their true selves. It fosters self-expression and growth. Partners deal respectfully with issues and give each enough space to be heard. Partners needn't justify relatively minor, affordable purchases, like the bowling ball mentioned above. They give each other space to do things on their own. A weekly marriage meeting, as explained in Marriage Meetings for Lasting Love: 30 Minutes a Week to the Relationship You've Always Wanted, includes a time to plan self-nurturing separate activities, as well as dates for the two of you.

Gain Independence before Marrying A woman in her fifties who participated in one of my Marry with Confidence workshops had a floundering business as a massage therapist and was living hand to mouth. She said that the main quality she wanted in a husband was the ability to support her financially. "Why not? she asked. "Prostitutes get paid for sex." For her, apparently, marriage is a socially sanctioned sex-for-money arrangement.

Poverty can wear people down and make them feel desperate to head for "any port in a storm." But marrying mainly for financial security is less likely to result in a lasting, fulfilling union than choosing a life partner who is a good fit emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually.

We're not living in Jane Austen's time when the sole career option for most middle-class women was to find a husband who could support her comfortably. Yet even in Austen's novels, character considerations weighed heavier than the prospective partner's net worth.

Today, job and career opportunities for women are plentiful. Men know this. I think most people would rather marry someone who is both financially as well as emotionally stable than one who is barely getting by.

Pursuing Your Interests Whether we're already married or still single, we gain confidence and therefore more appeal by showing independence. If you're dating, instead of waiting for someone to whisk you off to interesting activities, are you initiating them for yourself? You like sushi? Dine out alone or with a friend. If you're married, the same idea applies. Pursue your interests and you'll become more happy, interesting, and vibrant.

written by: Mrs. Marcia Naomi Berger

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