How the Independence Illusion Kills Marriages
Take this idea of independence — the belief that we can do it on our own, even that we should do it on our own. At least, we should if we wish to prove ourselves a “real” man or an “empowered” woman.
Regardless of how much you’ve accomplished on your “own,” you had some help at some point. Unless, of course, you pulled yourself out of the womb, gnawed through your umbilical cord and immediately began scavenging for milk and cigarettes.
Sadly, marriages fail every minute because of the myth of independence. For starters…
The independence illusion motivates many to marry without any support from family and friends.
Some even marry because of that lack of support. “We’ll show them!” think the proud pair.
And they usually do “show them.” They show them how difficult it is to maintain a life-giving, life-long marriage without a strong, involved and supportive community.
Of course, if you’d never consider something so stupid, don’t think yourself out of the woods, because most couples in our modern world will actually model their marriage around a paradigm of independence. The happy couple will become man and wife and then one or both will fight to maintain his space or her rights or his individuality or her time throughout the course of their relationship. (Check out the LoveEd episode below for more on how this “don’t change for anyone” concept will impact your future marriage.)
Unfortunately, you will find it difficult to enjoy the union God intends for marriage while you’re defending your identity. If you follow any team sport, you know this. Even a team with one or two standout players won’t win if those members can’t put the team ahead of themselves. Funny we should expect our marriages to work any differently.
The way the independence illusion destroys most marriages is not by causing conflicts, but by keeping them from being resolved; escalating the tension by convincing the couple to keep their problems to themselves.
If I was drowning, my demand for independence would be replaced by desperate screams for help! If your home catches fire, you won’t try to put it out yourself until after you’ve first phoned 911.
Yet it breaks my heart to think of all the marriages breaking up right now as I type these words, simply because the couples involved won’t humble themselves and seek help from family and friends who would do anything they could, if they only knew what was really going on.
These couples are drowning, but don’t dare cry out.
Their home is on fire, with their whole family inside, but you won’t know about it until all that remains is ash and rubble.
How many times have you been shocked when a “happy couple” suddenly announces their divorce? You never imagined they had any major conflicts and now their marriage is in meltdown mode.
How differently things might have turned out if everyone who loved them could pray for them, pray with them, carry their pain and hold them accountable, even take care of the kids from time to time, so the struggling couple can better work things out. So in the end, they can care for their kids together instead of fight over them.
The independence illusion keeps this from happening.
Have you bought into the independence illusion, or could you see yourself falling prey to that illusion in marriage? Why or why not?
[Want more help in preparing for a life-giving, life-long marriage? This is an excerpt of the 3rd book in our discipleship series: Beyond Sex & Salvation. So seriously consider purchasing a digital copy and you will learn three key life disciplines for relational success; habits best best forged BEFORE you fall in love. Even before you date! Find out more or purchase the book at this link.]
DNA: It’s What’s For Dating
It’s NOT for couples, but for any wise individual who thinks they might want to get married sometime before they die. And would like to learn how to better build healthy relationships in the meantime.
Check out all three study guides in our store. You can walk through them on your own, but it’s more fun with friends (that and it kinda makes sense to grow in relational success in actual relationships with others), so consider putting together an FMU LoveEd small group study.
Even better? And ask a rock star married couple you respect to lead it!