The Challenge of Independence in Marriage
“Independence!” What a beautiful term, defined as self-government or self-sufficiency.
Independence Day is celebrated in many countries, and it’s great, getting rid of the yoke of slavery or the burden of an oppressor. I’m all for it, and I celebrate freedom! We all want our children to grow up to be independent, standing on their own two feet, taking responsibility for themselves and making their own decisions. Awesome, independent, not needing anyone, being strong and looking after yourself. In today’s world, the term,” strong independent woman’ has become the slogan of a forward-thinking, non-traditional, modern and progressive woman. Something to strive for and certainly, I raised my daughters to be strong and independent, to make their own decisions and to tackle life. For the record, I love my independence, the ability to make up my own mind and to voice my opinion.
For Christians, marriage is a mystery that works on principles of the Kingdom of God, which is sometimes contrary to modern thinking. “Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24 (NIV). “An excellent wife who can find?” She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. She seeks wool and flax and works with willing hands. She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar.” Proverbs 31:10-3 (NIV)
While describing the husband and wife in a Christian marriage, these verses refer to strong independent people; a man making up his own mind about who to marry, taking the responsibility for his own household and stepping out of his dad’s house into his own, to look after and love his own family. A woman, strong and independent, running her own business and running her household like a pro. Yet there is something important we shouldn’t miss. The moment the man steps into his own household, he and she become one flesh, to be cared for and protected and taken into consideration in every decision. This implies that the whole is greater than the sum of its’ parts. Unity is always more important than any one of the two parties. While she is doing her own thing in business, she does her husband no harm, and he fully trusts her, because she supports him in everything he does. However you wish to express your independence, should never be detrimental to the unity of the relationship.
How many of us fight the wrong enemy? We think in order to be independent we should fight each other, criticise one another, and show each other how great we are by tearing down everything the other one does. Your independence does not manifest in constantly finding fault, your insecurity does. Independence makes room for differences.
Marriage is a voluntary association with someone you choose to love, not a dictatorship which needs to be escaped from. Exercise your independence and choose to love and make the relationship work, on your own, not in reaction to the other’s kindness or love. You are independent yes, so show me how you take charge of a broken relationship, how you love when it hurts, how you forgive, how you stop criticising and make space for your partner to grow and flourish. Anyone can run or accuse when times get tough, but it takes a strong independent person to love when someone is unlovable, to choose your future over your immediate comfort, to take a long-term view of your marriage and kids and to take the responsibility to serve, uplift, love, honour and beyond that, to fight for what is rightfully yours; love, companionship, sexual fulfilment, emotional support, mental stimulation and friendship.
Let’s be independent, let’s individually take the responsibility for our relationships, our marriages and our families! Before we can reap the reward of fulfilment in relationships, we need to sow seeds of love, forgiveness, service, encouragement, respect, loyalty and endurance. It’s not important to always have the last word, it’s not imperative that your point of view should always be heard, and it’s not realistic to assume that you are always right. There is always another perspective, another way of seeing the same thing. By making room for that, you open the way for growth and maturity.
“Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.” Psalm 126:5-6 (NIV)
“So this is my command: Love each other deeply, as much as I have loved you. “John 15:12 (TPT)