The following guest post was written by Madelyn over at Messages from the Mythical (she says she’s someone who’s not supposed to exist). Go visit her blog and see if she does 😉
In our culture, dependence is acceptable only for small children and invalids. Contemporary young women shrink from the slightest suggestion of dependence on anyone, and mock the suggestion that they should in any way be dependent on their (future) mates.
A United Front
But hindsight is 20/20. Do you know any older couples? What are some signs which show you that a couple is actually happy, rather than only enduring one another? Do they mention one other kindly? Do they smile at one another? Do they praise one another to third parties? Do they tell stories about their history together?
Do they roll eyes and make signs of exasperation, grit teeth or openly take jabs at one another, or do they actually seem to like each other?
Doesn’t that happy older couple begin to seem like a united front, or a society unto itself? One way that successful relationship can be described is dependent.
Dependence doesn’t happen automatically; it is the result of intentional and mutual investment.
A Solid Rock
In investing in your spouse, you are actually developing all kinds of dependence on each other. That is good. And years of daily investing creates a unique and solid relationship. Dependence becomes not a weakness but a solid rock. Mutual dependence becomes an interdependence, an intertwining of selves. There is a sense in which two together become one entity. And that entity is stronger and better, in many ways, than either person alone or even two people together in any other kind of relationship.
For all the life learning, all the skills and wisdom I have now that I did not have when I was young, you’d think I was more independent than ever before. In many ways, I am.
But I’m more dependent on my husband than ever. And he is on me too. We are more and more dependent on each other because we have chosen to throw away all other options and to invest all our affections on one person. We have invested all the things which belong to a spouse, including our loyalty, our respect, and our mutual submission.
Openly and insidiously, our culture discourages young women from forming a dependence on their spouses. That is a recipe for marital conflict and disappointment. If a young woman notices she is depending on her spouse, she is taught to be ashamed, and that she has diminished herself, that someone has perpetrated an injustice upon her, and that she is a victim of systemic oppression.
We fight the impulse to depend. We cultivate conflict. But we could instead be validated and grateful. We could cultivate investment and unity.
When you’re on your deathbed, do you want a spouse to give you respect for the strength you’re showing while walking that lonely path? Or do you want a spouse who has practiced carrying you, through rushing rivers and arid deserts, and sharing that path with you as though you were one being?
In marriage, dependence makes us stronger. Dependence is a good thing.