(Opinion written by Bob with Rita concurring)
On this Independence Day it occurred to us that good marriages may have an important message for all of us in our efforts to live together as a nation. When we were single we had a high level of independence. I could come and go on my schedule or no schedule. I could consult a family member or friend on the car I bought, but I didn’t have to. I could decide where to live and not worry about who else liked the place or who thought I was paying too much.
After we were married it became important to consider Rita’s wishes and preferences in all of these things. Many of the clichés we hear about marriage, e.g. taking on the old ball and chain, reflect that marriage requires us to make decisions together and give up some of our personal “freedom”. There are times in our marriage when I have to favor Rita’s needs or desires over my own and there are times when she does so for me. This has rarely been difficult for me in light of the many rewards of working together for our common benefit. Rita is my biggest fan and by far my most important support. She is my best friend and the person who always “has my back.” She encourages me to step outside my comfort zone and I am a better person because she is in my life. Although each of us still has considerable independence – we each had successful careers in which we operated on our own, although supported in many ways by the other – we have moved beyond that to interdependence. We recognize the value of the other in our lives and the benefits of working together, and life is good. The independence we have given up is far outweighed by the benefits of working together and sharing our lives.
This country started its history populated by strong and strong-willed people who moved here to have independent lives and the opportunity to make it on their own. The population was small and widely scattered. Everyone needed to be self-sufficient, and could do on their own what they wanted and when they wanted – it had little impact on anyone else.
The Declaration of Independence was a beginning of the realization among the Founding Fathers that there were things individuals and small groups could not do on their own, in this case get out from under British rule. It required the formation of a government which provided organization and a framework for strong and strong-willed people to work together for the common good, to make it possible for all to participate and become their best. With time and population growth the lives of individuals have become more intermeshed – even simple things I do affect others – I remember one of our children having a party in our suburban home when the police arrived to let us know that their music was disturbing the neighbors. We had to give up the freedom to have the music as loud as we wanted. Today most of us live near others and have to regulate our activities in consideration of their effect on others. Beyond that, we put increasing pressure on resources that we all share. That makes it important for all of us to work together toward interdependence and consider giving up some independence for the good of all.
What do you think? Should the country take a lesson from good marriages and promote greater interdependence for all?
Learn more about the Forever and a Day Workshop and other programs offered by Bob & Rita.
Bob & Rita’s book: Forever and a Day: An Invitation to Create a Marriage that Lasts a Lifetime, is available on Amazon.com. Also available for Kindle and Nook. Check out our Marriage Enrichment Programs at readabookpress.com.