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Freedom in Marriage

Marriage is sometimes viewed and experienced as a limit on freedom.  Ideas of compromise collude with this view.  You hear from others that if you are going to make a marriage work, you have to compromise.  Compromise usually means each of you give up some of what you want and proceed grumpily into something you don't really want, but are willing to go along with.

If this is your view of marriage, then when the rush of oxytocin and newness wears off, marriage can become a series of compromises that leaves you longing for your freedom again.

That's not what you were hoping for when you got married.  You likely had visions of family, support, aliveness, trust, fun, love, and more.  

Maintaining a true sense of freedom for yourself and supporting your partner to do the same is essential to fulfill your vision and hopes for your marriage.

At least three aspects of freedom are helpful to consider as you build and stay grounded in a sense of freedom in your marriage.  These three are:

  1.  Accessing a full "yes" and a full "no"

  1.  Recognizing that freedom is not in opposition to other needs

  1.  Grounding yourself in true freedom

Accessing a full "yes" and a full "no"

Any time your "yes" to your marriage or a particular interaction with your partner is laden with obligation, duty, guilt, fear, or an attempt to win love or approval, it is not a "yes" that arises from a sense freedom.  

Equally as important as accessing a full "yes", is accessing a full "no."  If you imagine you cannot say "no" to your marriage or something with your partner, then you are not truly able to say yes.  You may verbalize a  "no" but if it is riddled with guilt or fear, you become lost in a mire of resentful compromise and attempts to preserve a  superficial peace.  

Tragically, from the place of a partial "yes" or a partial "no", you have very little space left to be nourished by the love and caring that is real in your marriage.

A thriving marriage rests on your ability to choose to engage from your deepest sense of freedom of choice based on your values, not based on the presence or absence of warm fuzzy feelings in a given moment.

Recognizing that freedom is not in opposition to other needs

When universal needs like freedom, intimacy, and security are not bound to rigid ideas of how they should be met, they are experienced as the rise and fall of resourcing energies rather than as a conflict of needs.

It is common that in any given marriage, one partner may make more requests related to a need for freedom and the other partner may make more requests related to a need for intimacy or security.  When these requests are made in the same conversation, it can seem like these needs are in conflict.  

Needs are never in conflict, it is simply attachment to ways of meeting them that create conflict.  Attachment to a particular "when" is often a stuck point.  To prevent this perception of conflict of needs, offer and ask for reassurance that all needs are valid and can be met and you are both willing to look for creative ways to do that.  This might mean detaching from preferences, but it doesn't mean giving up your needs.  This leads us to the last essential aspect of freedom.

Ground yourself in true freedom

If you are living a life filled to the brim with responsibilities and activities, you can lose track of your values and what truly supports your thriving.  Freedom degenerates into the pursuit of pleasure, comfort, preferences, and getting your way at all costs.  This, of course, is more like compulsion then freedom.  True freedom is the freedom to:

  • Direct your attention towards that which is truly nourishing and life serving

  • Engage your skills in a moment of challenge

  • Follow inner wisdom as you make choices

  • Access resources and support

  • Live from authenticity and agency

When your marriage is grounded in this powerful sense of freedom, you are truly free to create a fulfilling and synergistically collaborative relationship.  


Take a moment now to reflect on a relationship or situation in your life where you experience a profound sense of freedom.  Identify the conditions, inside and out, that support your access to this freedom.


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2 Responses

  1. Aug 26, 2017

    I love this article, and I would say this is my biggest challenge in life - in all my say a full yes and a full NO ...
    Thank you for these ideas on how to access true freedom.

  2. Aug 26, 2017

    Hi Yael,

    Good to hear from you. Your welcome.

    I appreciate how clear you are that this is your biggest challenge. I am imagining that clarity allows you to pratice with it consistently.

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