The hands of the bride and groom with rings are chained

Does marriage equate to a loss of freedom?

March 28, 2018
  • Yes, if you’re completely devoted to your spouse
  • Somewhat, there’s a give and take
  • No, I’m usually free to do what I want, when I want
  • I don’t know

In the melting pot of American society, where different opinions and lifestyles merge, the question of whether marriage equates to a loss of freedom is as diverse as the people who answer it. As the satirist Ambrose Bierce humorously noted, marriage can sometimes feel like a society consisting of a gentleman, a lady, and two slaves. But just how true is this sentiment?

Let’s unpack the different perspectives:

couple deeply lost in each other's arms

1. “Yes, if you’re completely devoted to your spouse.”

Dedication, a virtue that’s been celebrated in countless movies, songs, and novels, can sometimes be a double-edged sword. Think of every romantic film where the protagonist abandons their dreams to be with the one they love. It’s touching and heartbreaking all at once. A survey showed that a significant portion of married individuals felt they had to make substantial life adjustments post-marriage. This level of devotion may feel like a loss of personal freedom to some, as they merge their individual paths with that of their partner’s.

surrounded by a whirlwind

2. “Somewhat, there’s a give and take.”

Marriage, to many, isn’t about sacrificing everything but is instead about negotiation. Just like in a classic romantic comedy where the couple engages in playful banter, there’s a certain art to marital give and take. It’s all about compromise. One might not get to hang that neon “Man Cave” sign in the living room, but perhaps it finds a home in the garage. A survey showed that more than half of married couples believe compromise is a cornerstone of their relationship.

mancave with a few male friends

3. “No, I’m usually free to do what I want, when I want.”

To many, marriage is not a prison but a partnership, akin to Batman and Robin taking on the world together. They operate in tandem, yet retain their individuality. In essence, they’re two independent individuals who choose to navigate life side by side. These folks might argue that they have the same level of freedom as they did when they were single – just with a permanent plus-one for the journey.

contemplative individual at a crossroads

4. “I don’t know.”

This sentiment could be voiced by those standing at the precipice of marital commitment, or those who are simply undecided about the entire institution. With marriage being painted in both vibrant and somber hues by critics and fans alike, it’s no surprise some find themselves on the fence.

The perception of marriage has shifted dramatically over the years. Critics, from Marxists to modern-day cynics, argue against the institution, citing its historical ties to property and its apparent incongruence with today’s culture of “unlimited opportunities”. After all, living together often plunges couples into a sea of non-romantic concerns, from finances to familial visits.

Yet, isn’t there a bit of irony in it? In a culture that celebrates choice, the very act of choosing to commit can seem counterintuitive. However, this deliberate step is one that countless Americans still opt for. The charm of marriage, for many, lies not in the absence of challenges but in facing them together.

In conclusion, whether one sees marriage as a ticket to a metaphorical prison or a passport to mutual adventure is deeply personal. As American society continues to evolve and redefine relationships, the answers to this age-old question will undoubtedly shift and multiply. But one thing’s for sure: as long as love stories continue to captivate us, the institution of marriage and the debates surrounding it will remain firmly in the spotlight.

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