Finding Freedom in Marriage

This week Wise Heart explores freedom as a universal need within the realm of marriage. The concept of Universal Needs is a key component within Mindful Compassionate Dialogue.

Marriage is sometimes viewed and experienced as a limit on freedom. Ideas of compromise collude with this view. You hear from others that if you are going to make a marriage work, you have to compromise. Compromise usually means each of you give up some of what you want and proceed grumpily into something you don’t really want, but are willing to go along with.

If this is your view of marriage, then when the rush of oxytocin and newness wears off, marriage can become a series of compromises that leaves you longing for your freedom again.

That’s not what you were hoping for when you got married. You likely had visions of family, support, aliveness, trust, fun, love, and more.  

Maintaining a true sense of freedom for yourself and supporting your partner to do the same is essential to fulfil your vision and hopes for your marriage.

At least three aspects of freedom are helpful to consider as you build and stay grounded in a sense of freedom in your marriage:

  1.  Accessing a full “yes” and a full “no”
  2.  Recognising that freedom is not in opposition to other needs
  3.  Grounding yourself in true freedom

Accessing a full “yes” and a full “no”

Any time your “yes” to your marriage or a particular interaction with your partner is laden with obligation, duty, guilt, fear, or an attempt to win love or approval, it is not a “yes” that arises from a sense of freedom.  

Equally as important as accessing a full “yes” is accessing a full “no”. If you imagine you cannot say “no” to your marriage or something with your partner, then you are not truly able to say yes. You may verbalise a “no” but if it is riddled with guilt or fear, you become lost in a mire of resentful compromise and attempts to preserve a superficial peace.  

Tragically, from the place of a partial “yes” or a partial “no” you have very little space left to be nourished by the love and caring that is real in your marriage.

A thriving marriage rests on your ability to choose to engage from your deepest sense of freedom of choice based on your values, not based on the presence or absence of warm fuzzy feelings in a given moment.

Recognising that freedom is not in opposition to other needs

When universal needs like freedom, intimacy, and security are not bound to rigid ideas of how they should be met, they are experienced as the rise and fall of resourcing energies rather than as a conflict of needs.

It is common that in any given marriage, one partner may make more requests related to a need for freedom and the other partner may make more requests related to a need for intimacy or security. When these requests are made in the same conversation, it can seem like these needs are in conflict.  

Needs are never in conflict, it is simply attachment to ways of meeting them that create conflict. Attachment to a particular “when” is often a stuck point. To prevent this perception of conflict of needs, offer and ask for reassurance that all needs are valid and can be met and you are both willing to look for creative ways to do that. This might mean detaching from preferences, but it doesn’t mean giving up your needs.  This leads us to the last essential aspect of freedom.

Ground yourself in true freedom

If you are living a life filled to the brim with responsibilities and activities, you can lose track of your values and what truly supports your thriving. Freedom degenerates into the pursuit of pleasure, comfort, preferences, and getting your way at all costs. This, of course, is more like compulsion than freedom. True freedom is the freedom to:

  • Direct your attention towards that which is truly nourishing and life-serving
  • Engage your skills in a moment of challenge
  • Follow inner wisdom as you make choices
  • Access resources and support
  • Live from authenticity and agency

When your marriage is grounded in this powerful sense of freedom, you are truly free to create a fulfilling and synergistically collaborative relationship.  


Take a moment now to reflect on a relationship or situation in your life where you experience a profound sense of freedom. Identify the conditions, within and without, that support your access to this freedom. Note these internal and external conditions, and see where and how you can recreate these conditions in other areas of your life.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s blog.

Thank you for reading, for being here, and for being you.

With love.

If you’d like to cultivate a greater sense of contact and literacy around your needs as well as become skilful in meeting any specific needs of yours in a way that doesn’t cost you other needs (of yours or another), have a look at our upcoming Mindful Compassionate Dialogue course where you’ll learn the relationship competencies and communication skills needed to create compassionate and thriving relationships with yourself and others.

You are also invited to join our free biweekly Empathy Circle, where you can learn and discover what empathy is, and more importantly, practice giving and receiving empathy, allowing you to be deeply seen and heard in whatever challenge or celebration you’re navigating.

If you’d like to experience a powerful coaching conversation, book a complimentary 1:1 Coaching Call with me.

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