How Much Autonomy Should There Be In Your Marriage?

Autonomy. Independence. Self-reliance. All good stuff, right? So many couples I have spoken with and interviewed seem to be living separate lives under the same roof. Having a few friends your mate does not care for is fine, and so is the occasional night out with your buddies, but once a couple becomes more like roommates with benefits, the marriage may be heading down a slippery slope or is already in trouble.

In our early marriage, I thought that we were so evolved because we could be these super independent people. We had a lot in common and spent time together but we also had our own lives. I was a new Christian and had not fully understood what Mark meant in Mark 10:7-8 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one.”

My husband had his work friends while I had a slew of mommy friends whose children were in the same gymnastics, skating and ballet classes as our children. My husband and I were both still working out to stay in shape, but even the athletic events we attended, were different. He would go off to a road bike race and I would compete in a running race.

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In hindsight, I wonder if all of this autonomy had created an environment more tempting for my husband to cheat on me. As I thought it through, a couple of things made sense. I was there for him physically as we made love often, but I was working several part-time jobs and was not there for him emotionally. I was all about doing my thing without regard to what hours I needed to work. I will never get that time I spent away from him back, and I will live with the scar that he did, in fact, stray for a time when he felt that we were together, yet lonely.

Before I discovered his indiscretion, I never questioned the time he spent with his guy friends from work. I can’t believe at that time that I did not even really miss him. Perhaps I was too tired from the grind of balancing home, work and child-rearing.

This is why I write this warning to all of you out there that are allowing your relationship as a couple to turn into more of a couple of ships that occasionally bump in the night.

Go and enjoy lunch with the girlfriends. Don’t stress when your husband wants to hang with the guys one night. But, make sure you are also both putting forth the effort to find mutual friends and being reciprocal in the way that your relationship is treated and treasured. God loves a happy marriage and I know you do too!

Proverbs 5:18-19 “May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer, may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love.”

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