If you’re a single woman in your twenties or thirties, you’ve probably heard everything about marriage. You’ve been told how wonderful it is to have a spouse and how it’s time to get married. You’ve also probably been told that you need to get married and start having kids.
But only some brave souls will tell you that marriage takes a lot of work. It requires compromise and understanding your spouse. And though most people realize that in theory, it’s hard to practically adapt to that mindset. One thing that I’ve noticed in quite a few marriages, especially in my Pakistani Muslim community is that girls who have had their independence (are financially and socially independent) sometimes find it harder to get used to being married.
I’ve known many girls who got married when they were “older,” which in my community can mean any age after 25. But what I mean is when they’ve reached an age where they have independence from their family: they have a job where they make decent money and don’t rely on anyone financially, they have a life of their own outside of their family, they’re possibly even living on their own or if they’re not, then they’re past the point of asking for permission to go out or travel.
Once you’ve had the freedom and independence of doing whatever you want without having to answer to anyone, it can be extremely difficult to be put in a position where you have to consider another person again. It can almost feel as though you are a child answering to your parents all over again because you go from going out and coming home when you please, to having to actively let someone know that you have plans or when you’ll come home.
Marriage can feel as though you are losing your independence and that is a hard pill to swallow.
I think if you go into a marriage knowing that you will lose some of your independence, not because you are marrying someone horrible or controlling, but because you are now in a partnership, that will make it much easier to adapt to the new but amazing environment.
The key is to realize this before getting married and also understanding that this doesn’t make your spouse a bad person. If you think about it, getting to a point of trust even with our parents takes a lot of time. It takes years to be able to walk out the door without getting permission living with family. But the reason that happens is that there are years of trust in that relationship. We can’t go into a brand new relationship expecting the same type of treatment or level of trust and understanding.
And if you’re a part of a culture that places a lot of emphasis on the in-laws, then there are even more people to adapt to and more people to answer to sometimes. Depending on your specific marital situation, you might even have to let your mother-in-law or father-in-law know where you are going or what your plans are for the weekend.
Before marriage, you would’ve been able to go out with the girls for a quick day trip without a care in the world, but now you might have a new family that wants to see you on the weekend. It can be extremely tough losing the feeling of doing as you please. That’s why people often say the first (or two) year of a marriage is the hardest.
It’s almost like having your own business and then adding an equal partner to the operation later. You do lose the ability to be the sole decision maker, but you also gain a person who brings their own skill set and is there during the tough times and celebrates the good times.
Whether you’ve been dating for years or just met your spouse three months ago, a marriage is a brand new relationship that will require a different mindset and consideration for the person who you now live with. Your spouse deserves to be a partner in your decisions, just as you deserve to be a partner in theirs, even if that decision is as small going out to dinner with friends.
And if we see that as a building of trust and consideration, rather than a hit to our independence, then the marriage will slowly but surely reach a stage of trust and love that both spouses can celebrate.