I Refuse to Let “Marriage” Tie Me Down

I really want to meet this girl someday and thank her for all the laughter she brings into my life.

I really want to meet this girl someday and thank her for all the laughter she brings into my life.

My husband and I have been married for three years today, which means we have been together for five years and known each other for about fifteen years. I used to think marriage wouldn’t change anything. Three years ago we tied the knot just so we could have a big party celebrating our love. Our spiritual beliefs don’t require marriage, it just seemed like the thing to do.

Three years later, a lot has changed. We are such different people now than we were back then. We always agreed that we wanted to grow together, but I don’t think we really understood what kind of growth is possible when you have a healthy environment to grow in. Our home is peaceful, loving, accepting and honest. I have never really lived in an environment this safe before, and let me tell you, it’s terrifying!

What do I mean by that?

Well, the shift from dysfunctional to functional can be difficult and at times unnerving. In our case it’s took about three-five years for us to realize that we don’t have to hide anything from one another. We both kept secrets unnecessarily and perhaps just out of habit. We kept our doubts hidden, our fantasies secret and our personal goals separate from “the marriage.” It wasn’t until a few days ago that we finally flushed all that away and instead of seeing Erich as a walking symbol of “the marriage” I see him for what he really is again…my unconditionally loving and supportive friend.

For our anniversary I would like to proclaim to all that I’m sick of letting “the marriage” come between us. The traditional concept of marriage is too confining for us as individuals. We are too spirited and rebellious to accept the mold that was handed on to us by society. It may sound arrogant, but we don’t need traditional boundaries to have a happy marriage, in fact it’s just holding us back!

I read that the symbol for the third anniversary is leather, because by the third year the couple is aware of the strength of their relationship. Leather is tough and long-lasting, but it is also bendable and yielding. In order to withstand the tests of time a marriage must be as durable as leather: both flexible and strong.

I hope that as we grow as individuals our relationship evolves based on only one principal: unconditional love. Everything else are just conventions, and we hate those!

"Fuck em!" Is what I say to marriage conventions! (right baby?)

“Fuck em!” Is what I say to marriage conventions! (right baby?)

I am so excited to have learned how to embrace the new emerging elements of Erich’s Being, free of fear and restriction. I am fascinated by what he was, what he is and what he will become. He is as ever-changing as the seasons and I plan to stick around and enjoy the beauty of each one, year after year (if that’s what we both desire). I hope to give him the room he needs to grow and experiment as new ideas emerge and I trust that he will allow me the same wiggle room. I look forward to our times apart as much as our time together because I know that we will have new stories to share.Β 

If I have a message at all it is this…

Your spouse is not a ball and chain. The only weights we carry are the self imposed adherence to our own beliefs. If you feel tied down or restricted, odds are you need to expand your mind. Learn to adapt your beliefs or embrace new ones. Be true to thyself. Don’t be afraid to grow beyond the limitations of conventional thinking. Don’t ever be ashamed of how you really feel.Communicate with each other freely and honestly. Love and accept one anther’s faults as you would want them to love and accept yours. Do these things and you may be able to create a new, mutual reality that allows you both freedom and support. Neither of you will ever be the same person you were yesterday. Learn to meet each other with new eyes each day.

This is my only long term plan.

This is my only long term plan.

I love you, Erich. Thanks for marrying me.Β  πŸ˜‰

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19 responses to “I Refuse to Let “Marriage” Tie Me Down

  1. This is a very lovely post. As your fateful hubsband I have to say I’m too generously represented in the content. Throughout our first three years I have had my reservations or feelings of uncertainty (don’t we all?) but ultimately I always come out of those “low” times with a feeling of belonging and devotion that I always knew was there. Growing with you has been challenging but supremely rewarding, and I know that what I have with you is something I will never have with anyone else. I know I move painfully slow when it comes to matters of spirit, but that’s just who I am. You stick by me through thick and thin, and somehow always manage to come up with exactly what I’m looking for, and always at the times I feel most certain I’ll never find it. For that, I owe supreme gratitude and give my love.

    You are truly wonderful; an inspiration to me in both my darkest and brightest times.

    Thank you for marrying me. I love you.

    -E

  2. Well, if marriage doesn’t tie you down, children sure as hell will!

    Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose, you know.

    Happy Anniversary, you two.

    • Thanks, Nate!

      I’m not sure I agree with the idea that freedom is just another word for having nothing left to lose (though I love the song Bobby McGee). I guess my ultimate freedom is living truly authentically, no matter what my situation may be. Children will be a challenge to my “freedom” no doubt, but I also believe they will set me free in so many other ways. I’m excited for the adventure when it comes. For now I’ll just try to exercise my authenticity in other ways. πŸ™‚

      • So, I hope you don’t experience me as being disagreeable. I often needle Erich a bit on FB as well. I am a person who generally likes to find areas of disagreement with folks with whom I generally share a similarish worldview, and areas of agreement with those of whom I generally look at things differently from. Keeps me from falling into groupthink, and forces me to see things from other points of view.

        My idea of freedom is probably the intellectual idea that has changed the most for me in the last 5 years. I think that freedom is simply the abscence of limitation. If you are completely free, then the only thing influecing your choices are yourself. At this point, I view freedom as highly overrated, at least in personal matters. Political freedom is important, yes, but absolute personal freedom has a pretty tragic dark side. Relationships are not free, and pretty much everything in my life that means anything at all to me requires something of me. I am less free due to my obligations to my family, my wife, my vocation, my friends, my culture, and especially my children. And that is good! I would have it no other way. I suppose you could say that I have freely chosen those things, but after those commitments have been chosen, they exert a heavy influence over my ability to choose.

        I also heavily favor legal and religious recognition of marriage, and think that the cultural convention of sanctioning marriage is important. Declaring before each other, important friends and family, community, and God, if you so believe, is a powerful public commitment that serves a valuable function in preserving a union when it is under stress. Part of this comes from my perspective as a marriage counselor as well. (Semi) binding commitment is a very important prognostic indicator for me. Highly committed couples are more likely to make it that weakly committed ones.

      • I appreciate your “needling” so don’t worry about that.

        I like what you said about freedom. I think you made an excellent point when you said,” I suppose you could say that I have freely chosen those things, but after those commitments have been chosen, they exert a heavy influence over my ability to choose. ” There are always consequences to the “free” choices we make. Truthfully you are still free to do whatever you like, but leaving your children and wife to fend for themselves is not a choice you would make because it would not match your beliefs. I believe our actions and our beliefs must match for inner peace to fully manifest. Cognitive dissonance has been the biggest source of anxiety in my life. I constantly feel one way, but act another out of a sense of obligation to others. In my case, the result has been a series of enabling and codependent relationships. Through the practice of meditation and spiritual practices, the art of learning to communicate better with my partner and best friend (Erich), and finding a creative outlet (poetry and my blog) I am coming to understand these things about myself more fully…and in doing so I find my definition of freedom. It is not economic, social or political- it simply has to do with whether or not my actions and beliefs are matching at any given moment. I realize this is a precarious place to be because things change more rapidly, but again as long as I lean on my foundations: spirituality/faith, communication in important relationships, and creative outlets, I feel the sense of security I need to explore my constantly changing inner landscape.

        As for the legal and religious recognition of marriage…I guess I both agree and see it another way. As a marriage counselor I’m sure you have to consider the idea, from time to time, that some couples aren’t meant to make it. I grew up in a “stay together for the kids” household and in my opinion that was not a healthy choice for anyone in our family. I don’t fault my parents for their decision, but I “knew” somehow that when I left for college the family would fall apart…I was the “glue” and everyone came to me with their problems. Anyway, I digress. What my parent’s marriage taught me is that sometimes walking away is harder than staying together. I also think there are other “options” out there besides marriage. Perhaps some people aren’t meant to be married. There have historically been cultures where polygamy and polyandry were common. I am a fairly staunch cultural relativist and see no problem with people in other “tribes” conducting relationships in ways that work for them. I am not saying I advocate that lifestyle for myself, but I don’t feel it is anyone’s place to declare one right way of doing anything.

        I have been wishy-washy about this point in the past, but after reading Ishmael and other books by Quinn my views have totally changed, not because I blindly follow him, but because I’ve tried it on and it fits. I feel that the more firmly I take my stance as a cultural relativist, the more open I am to the views of others and the less judgmental I become. I seek wisdom above all else and wisdom, as it turns out, is learning to admit my own ignorance. I’m far from my goal at this point, but I like the way it feels when I can honestly step down off my moral high horse from time to time and see things from others’ perspectives.

        Whew…sorry this turned into a novel! Your “needling” seemed to strike a nerve! But I thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to explore these issues with a professional in the mental health field AND a family member. It’s a unique and welcomed opportunity for me! Thanks!

      • Openness and empathy don’t require relativism. There are ways of conducting human affairs that are better than others. Our cultural habit of entertaining ourselves via corporate media is a bit of cultural practice I don’t mind judging negatively. I also don’t find common tribal practices, particularly intertribal warfare, to be very morally righteous either. I think one has an obligation to listen to, but not necessarily accept, the practices of others.

      • I agree that there are are ways of conducting affairs that are better than others and I too have my judgments about consumerism in our modern culture. The real problem, as I see it, is that we live in a mono-culture. Wherever you go you see MacDonalds and iPhones and the worship of money and power. I realize there are sub groups, but the “ruling culture” if you will is essentially the same wherever you go. The whole industrialized world operates under the assumption that man is meant to rule the Earth and that we are the pinnacle of creation. It is a story that puts us at odds with our own planet. This is what defines our culture more than any political or religious belief out there…the idea that we are somehow separate from and better than nature.
        I believe that in Nature we can find the answers to any human problem. Even intertribal warfare has it’s place in the natural world. Is it ethically wrong when a baboon or lion acts territorially? Perhaps if we kept cultural boundaries the way animals keep their boundaries we’d have a more peaceful world. I’d rather prefer a few squabbles with my neighbors here and there, than world war three…

        I hope we can plan a visit to see you guys soon. I have always wanted to talk to you like this. I also really think I would connect to your wife. Perhaps we can come up some weekend soon and help with a house project and stay over night for some late night conversation?

        Cheers.

      • I would love to have the two of you up- anytime. Well, not really, we are out of town the next couple of weekends, but we should schedule something this summer. We’re old people, we’ll have to see how “late night” we’re still capable of.

  3. That is one of the most refreshing insights about marriage I have ever read. And so true. These words could be applicable to any loving relationship.no matter what legal or religious authorities it is recognised by (or not).

    • I agree. I often wonder if Erich and I would even get married now. We were very different people three years ago and marriage was just the obvious next step. Now…well I just wonder if we’d have chosen something different. I do think we are meant to be together, but the formal agreement of marriage has little to do with it.

      Thanks for your feedback, Cassie. I really appreciate it.

    • Thanks! I like to think it is, though at times we both have doubts and we do argue and nitpick..etc.

      Here is an example of what I mean by pushing traditional boundaries. It is commonly accepted that to have a good marriage you should pretty much always live together. Apart from traveling for business or school, you shouldn’t part ways. We are challenging that by embracing the idea that Erich may need to go on a hermitage soon. He doesn’t know when or where yet, but he has my blessing to just go with the flow. If it moves him away from me I will just have to trust him and we will have to find a way to communicate that works for both of us. We are both learning to accept the concept that we can’t control everything and that things do happen for a reason. I want him to feel like he can stretch his legs and move around if it feels right, just like I would expect him to allow me to explore my Self in any way I felt was necessary. The trick is being totally honest about what we want and what we need. It’s tricky and a bit of a slippery slope, but I feel like we can traverse it with the right amount of love and care. Ultimately it’s more fun when you question and test every assumption and find out what is really true for you. I am just happy I have a partner who believes the same thing.

      • Thanks for the reply! I see what you mean; and yes, lots of married people do spend time apart from each other; military families, families where one partner travels a lot for work or school, etc. I don’t see that much as a traditional boundary, though but more of a preference that people have to want to be super close in proximity to those they love. It is a sacrifice to allow those we love to be away for a while!

        I, like tornadonate, think freedom is a bit overrated. Love, for me, is much more about giving and less about freedom, if that makes sense. I’m getting married in October of this year, btw, and I’m feeling beyond blessed!!! We’re having a traditional ceremony but rather than feeling “tied down” by traditional boundaries, I honestly don’t even see or notice any!! πŸ™‚ If I didn’t want to live with my future husband after marriage I think his sadness and my desire to hug him everyday would have more of an effect on my decision than any concept of marriage would!

        I do want to walk the Way of St. James in Spain one day, and I know that the love and safety of my relationship will allow me to fulfill that goal someday.

      • That’s maybe not the best example, but it was the one I was most comfortable sharing. I guess the way I see it is that each couple has the right to determine what is “ok” for them and what is not. It’s truly different for everyone.
        Congratulations on the upcoming marriage! Though I am opinionated about the importance of choice, I don’t see anything wrong with “traditional” weddings, especially if it’s truly what you want! My wedding was beautiful and fun and the memories are great! I wish you two all of the best and hope that you continue to love and respect one another throughout your lives together!

  4. Congratulations! This was a very inspiring post. I’ve been reading a great book about love, freedom, authentic connection and of course, moving from dysfunction. Your post about your Leather Anniversary is inspirational in that it’s a testament to what is possible.

    Thank you! And keep up the good work (or play or love!)

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