There’s a key part of singleness that needs to be carried into marriage. This is the ability to allow our partners to keep their vital autonomy.
Marriages must surely share higher rates of potential success if they rest on this premise. What goes with it is the acceptance of love that allows the person we’re married to, to form, re-form and continually morph under a godly anointing—the freedom to grow, decide and move as they will, subject to God.
What is contingent on all this, of course, is the component of trust... and a necessary respect.
Away from Co-Dependency – Toward ‘Helping’
We’re all prone to being a little co-dependent, actually. In other words, we do seek to have ‘some say’ over how our partners are living their lives. Some of this is healthy and not co-dependent, i.e., when issues come to affect us or the marriage itself directly. These things need to be borne in mind.
But, for the main part, marriage is, and was always supposed to be, a bedrock of freedom for two people merged as one entity in partnership, to realise together what singly they could not achieve.
Recall God’s vision for marriage—which we should take as having an interchangeable, gender inclusive meaning, i.e., it means that the man is also to be a helper to the woman:
“Then the Lord God said: ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.’”
~Genesis 2:18 (NRSV).
Would it make our roles in marriage easier to understand simply to consider us and our partners ‘helpers for each other,’ or in other terms, free to give the help we might individually or collectively need?
“Help,” by virtue of the implicit meaning of the word, should mean partners are free to discern needs and serve those needs by helping. Helping is a gift of love; it is perhaps a much broader concept—in God’s sight—than the traditional limited meaning we attach to the word.
Happiness in Marriage
Whenever we accept people for who they are and give them back their vital physical, mental, emotional and spiritual freedom we love them in impactful ways.
Happiness in marriage—or in any relationship between people—subsists in this. If both parties can do it, it’s even better. It is helped along even if one person does it. If one partner feels free, they’re more likely to begin to reciprocate. Again, freedom really is an exercise in trust.
Perhaps as we issue this freedom we’re also issuing ourselves freedom to let go of the control we ought never to have had, such that we’re now able to focus on exercising humility in the relationship, as well as truly find our vital selves as well.
There is always space for the healthy individual to exist in marriage.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.