“This is not a marriage! This is a freaking prison and I’m your slave! All I do is your laundry, pick up your crap, work all day and when I’m done and want to go do things for myself, I get excuses and reasons why I can’t or shouldn’t!”
This scenario may or may not sound familiar. If so, you should first know that you’re not alone. To avoid this scenario though, three things must be present in a relationship for it to thrive. Three things that are not present in the scenario above.
Love is at the heart of marriage. Bound together by the care, companionship, need, values, and commonalities that can overpower immaturity, hurt, and selfishness to form something better than what we can produce on our own. However, Love is like a plant. The plant itself is not enough to sustain on it’s own and it certainly doesn’t grow or thrive without other necessities. In the words of Patty Smyth and Don Henley “baby sometimes love just ain’t enough.”
When two people are equally free to be who they are as individuals, free to disagree respectfully, free to have a healthy social life, and free to have space for their own “me” time, they are also free to love. When they do not have that freedom, they live in fear. 1 John 4:18 says that Perfect Love drives out Fear. As humans, our love will never be completely perfect but having freedom sure makes love grow and it gets pretty close, espcially when coupled with number 3.
When both parties are responsible for your freedom within the marriage, in doing what’s best for the marriage as a whole, to each other but not for each other, and are able to maturely take responsibility for their own actions and reactions, love can grow immensely.
When both parties cannot do that, one person ends up taking on too much responsibility and becomes resentful. Meanwhile, the party not taking responsibility for the aforementioned qualities becomes self-centered or even controlling.
Freedom and Responsibility problems in a marriage will cause love to struggle. The love plant we talked about at the beginning of this email struggles to thrive and may wither and die because it doesn’t have the necessary nutrients.
Think about your own relationship. Do you have love, freedom and do you take responsibility for what you need to? Ask your partner if they feel the same way. Do they feel like you have all 3?