I once saw a group of guys at bachelor party walking through a casino.
Each of them was wearing a powder blue shirt with the icon of a bride and groom at the altar, chained to the phrase, game over.
What a perfect microcosm for how our culture views marriage. How it’s the ultimate loss of freedom. Hence, the bachelor party. One last chance to enjoy the sweet nectar of independence before your carefree and spontaneous days of singlehood are over.
Because once you say I do, it’s game over.
This narrative about marriage’s impending loss of freedom is just a story we’ve bought into. And it’s been perpetuated for decades by mainstream media, the movies, and of course, the marriage industrial complex, who stands to earn billions in the process.
That’s why I didn’t have a bachelor party. Because in my experience, marriage, aka, commitment, is the ultimate form of freedom. Freedom to be our true selves, freedom to let our guards down and be vulnerable, and freedom to fart as loudly as possible without being judged.
When I was single and struggling to find someone to share my life with, exhausting activities like resenting and pretending and impressing took up a lot of space in my heart. Space that could have been used for love. And I ended up wasting a great deal of energy that could have be more usefully employed.
But the moment we tied the knot, all of that vanished. Suddenly, I was released from the prison of having to prove myself. Suddenly, there was no more fear of having to walk through this world alone. Suddenly, there was this person that I committed to who knew everything about me, and loved me anyway.
Marriage was constraint that set me free. Which probably explains why I woke up at five in the morning the day after our wedding and started sobbing uncontrollably into my bride’s shoulder for ten minutes. Because some tightly wrapped coil of stress must have let go. My body knew it was finally free.
Spezzano’s popular book about relationship psychology dedicates an entire chapter on this very issue.
Commitment is neither slavery nor sacrifice; commitment is freedom. But there are two types of freedom. One is an independent form of freedom from things, a freedom where we get away from this thing that bothers us. The other is a true freedom that comes from within, a freedom toward things, a freedom we feel in any situation because our level of commitment, our level of giving. For example, if we are in relationships where we feel bound, in sacrifice, because it is something we have to do, all the fun and capacity to receive is gone. We feel that we have lost our choice. But when we choose to be there, committed, giving ourselves fully, our choice allows us to transcend our imperfections and feel the freedom of commitment.
Game over? More like, game on.
I don’t know about the rest of the married couples in the world, but I can’t wait to see what’s around the next corner, and what a thrill to be committed to a person who’s up for it.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What constraint will set you free?
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That Guy with the Nametag
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