Freedom is overrated. No, really. Think about it. When a coach wants to develop a competitive team, he doesn’t say, “Practice is at 8 a.m., but honestly, show up when you feel like it.” That team would be a hot mess. We know when it comes to sports that athletes and teams must willingly accept constraints in order to be their best.
And yet we bristle against any personal constraints. I often see this in married couples. Guys refer to “the old ball and chain” and pine for the days they were free to do what they wanted. But this is foolish. Sometimes freedom isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. There is tremendous benefit to voluntary constraints. I’d like to point out the 3 things we gain in exchange for the freedom we give up in marriage.
1. IntimacyAnything worth having is costly.
Anything worth having is costly. Think about the last time you bought something for really cheap. Now think about how not-awesome that thing is. Yeah—not worth it, right? Valuable things cost us. Intimacy is being known by someone for all your gifts and faults. It’s knowing you can share the thing you’re most anxious about without opening yourself up to danger. It’s being able to make mistakes and have someone stay in it with you. But to build intimacy, you need commitment. You need hard work. Intimacy is not developed by chance, but by a sustained commitment to vulnerability, building trust, mutual service. All that stuff takes time, energy, and effort. In other words, it costs you some freedom. But intimacy and sacrifice beat loneliness and freedom any day.
There’s a proverb that says, “Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens the wits of another.” Think of the noise, the heat, the friction required for iron to sharpen iron. Sounds almost like an argument you had with your wife, doesn’t it? Granted, arguing isn’t fruitful if we do it from a place of defensiveness or woundedness. However, having someone challenge you to be your best because she loves you is one of the most incredible gifts a person can get. In the process of working through the occasional conflicts and squabbles, if you’re humble and open, you might be amazed at what you learn about yourself.
3. Increased Field of Vision
Two eyes see better than one. You’re welcome. Thanks for reading.
Seriously though, if you only have one eye, your field of vision is greatly reduced. You can’t see as well. Part of the gift of marriage is having someone who sees the world differently than you do, who helps you (and whom you likewise help) to see the world more fully, more like it really is. This doesn’t mean your wife is always right and you’re always wrong. Certainly not. But it does mean she undoubtedly catches things that you miss. She brings an angle, an idea, a perspective that you wouldn’t have otherwise. If we’re humble enough to recognize that we don’t see fully, having someone whose vision can complement our own is a remarkable gift.
Does marriage limit your freedom? Absolutely. But sometimes the best gifts are the ones you never realized you needed.
Sound off: What is one way the limits of marriage have been a gift to you?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your wife and tell her one way she’s been used to sharpen you.