Gone are the days of rusty, ball-and-chain marriages...or so I fiercely hope.
Millennials seem to be choosing careers, homes, lifestyles, and beliefs based off of one overarching value: freedom.
The creative freelancer working from the RV or tiny house next to their best friend/life partner seems to be the archetype - forgoing white picket fences, gender roles, and cold cubicles in one fell swoop in pursuit of something much, much sweeter.
In the countless conversations I’ve had with young couples about relationships, the vast majority said nothing about 'settling down’ as a reason to desire marriage. More than anything, those conversations revolved around freedom - the freedom to be found within an undying love. The freedom that comes from sharing, giving, exploring, and growing within the security of steadfast relationship. A constant love that sets you free.
But when words like “tied down” and “stuck” and “good ol’ ball and chain” have been passed down through the cultural repertoire of the generations before us, how can we, as young people, walk into our marriages *expecting* to love being married, free spirits and all?
And how, upon being married and encountering the need for sacrifice or compromise from time to time, can we confidently maintain that lens of freedom rather than adopt a panicked narrative of feeling held back?
Hmmmm. Those are big questions.
For me, above all else, my story of marriage is, and will be, a story of freedom. We’ve made that commitment. And man oh man does it relieve me to say this because I have the wildest of hearts. I feel trapped when I’m in one place for too long. I hate other people telling me what to do. The wind is always pulling my hair from one thing to another. I need freedom like I need oxygen and I believe that if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll realize that as living, breathing animals we all do.
We all need the freedom to roam, experience, learn, frolic, harvest, and feel. We need the freedom to explore and keep exploring.
Yet I think the many marriages modeled before us have been those of settling down into shrinking horizons of stagnant predictability. Living in the same home in the same town with the same restaurants that you attend on the same day with the same friends from the same church who believe the same things. It sounds dreadful when I write it out but this is the reality of “settling down”.
And here’s the thing: even the loveliest, most well-decorated, comfortable cage complete with great company and a pantry stocked with delicious food is still nothing but a cage.
I’m not a marriage expert (is there even such a thing?) and I don’t claim to be. But in the most primal way of thinking, I firmly believe that the key to finding lasting freedom within marriage is to develop a relationship that expands horizons rather than shrinks them.
This is the marriage the urges to you be more rather than less.
This is the marriage that dares you to shine brighter rather than dull down.
This is the marriage that says “let’s try something new” rather than “let’s always stick with what we know”.
This is the marriage that has fun f*cks with silly laughter and makes fiery love with steamy passion rather than dutifully procreates.
This is the marriage that asks questions rather than passes statements and says “speak up” rather than “shut up”.
This is the marriage that is nothing but a cage without learning, building, growing, serving, seeing, being, promising, fulfilling, together.
This is the marriage of freedom.
“Being married to Kyle has helped me love myself more and has challenged me to be free with my feelings and emotions - two things that I have suppressed for years. Marriage truly set me free and made my life better! However, I truly believe it’s because Kyle and I work hard at establishing each other as people who we can be free around. There’s nothing he can say or do that I would immediately banish him for. He is free to think, say, and feel as he wants, and I am free to do the same. It is an amazing harmony of two humans allowing themselves to be humans. If that’s not the most freeing thing, than I don’t know what is!” Shelby N.
“Marriage makes my home mobile. Home is wherever I’m with my husband…it’s a feeling not a place. And for a free spirit, that’s pretty invaluable.” - Sarah F.
“I was so nervous about being “held back” from my independence by having to sacrifice and service in marriage, but it’s been the exact opposite. Having the stability there has created less fear for unknowns and having a partner that promotes and builds into my dreams makes so much more possible than it would have been on my own!” Bekah K.
3 WAYS TO DWELL WITHIN A MARRIAGE OF FREEDOM
1. Don’t ever lose yourself and if you already have, find yourself.
If you lose your identity as an individual and struggle to see who you are apart from the roles that you fill in the lives of others, you will always feel like you are living in a cage - even if it is a beautiful cage - because you no longer belong to yourself. Be fierce in the pursuit of your own passions, curiosities, and friendships. A love that asks you to lose yourself is no love at all.
2. Pursue the new, together.
Learn new things, try new things, taste new things, feel new things, see new things, believe new things, and bring each other along for the ride. You don’t have to do all things new all at once for that might get a little crazy and impractical. But to prioritize experiencing the “new”, hand-in-hand, is to promise an ever-expanding world and ever-expanding love therein to one another. Could you ever think of a more sacred gift to give?
3. Live in defiance of complacency
If the waters remain still in one area of your life for too long, the scum will begin to form and the mosquitos will gather. The moment you sense stagnancy within an aspect of your marriage, speak it. Pull it into the light. Bring movement and conversation to those muggy waters. Create an action plan to shake that shit up.
So how do you love being married with a wild heart? You infuse that wild heart of yours into your marriage, with everything you’ve got.
Never tame that which belongs to the wild.