Why I Broke Up With My Ball And Chain

Twelve years ago on May 24th, I walked down the aisle, sick with salmonella and strep throat, and exchanged vows with Brent. I don’t remember much about the ceremony other than it was much shorter than I anticipated, and I looked amazing. That night, we drove away as husband and wife to begin our lives together as a married couple. As a ball and chain.

Twelve years later, I had to make a tough call. I had to break it off with my ball and chain.

Ball and Chain

Don’t worry – Brent and I are still married. Quite happily, in fact. But the ball and chain – I never liked those. People joke and it’s become a common association with marriage, but it’s so far from marital reality.

An historical reference regarding prisoners being kept in one area, the ball and chain was just that – an ankle shackle attached to a weighted ball by a short chain. It was meant to keep prisoners from going too far, too fast. The less mobile, the easier to control.

Someone thought it a wise correlation to marriage. I feel sorry for the person who thought so.

Brent has never “tied me down”. He has never kept me from going places or doing things I’ve wanted to. He has never restrained me, kept me stuck, or imprisoned me in life. Never.

When I wanted to be a Gallery Guide, Brent encouraged me, even after I tried to talk myself out of it. When I wanted to write, Brent proofed all my content. When I wanted to go back to school, Brent told me I’d be crazy not to.

When I want to go spend time with friends, Brent is there handing me the car keys. He has been the most supportive, most encouraging, most incredible cheerleader of a husband I could ever have.

I can’t speak for him, but I’m going to. (ha!) I told him last year I wish he’d golf more. He bought clubs, new shoes, golfing clothes, and guess what he does now on nice weather days after work, or on the weekends? He golfs. And I love that he does. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say he loves it to. I’m also going to assume he’s quite thankful I’m supportive of his golfing hobby.

We moved to North Dakota nearly 10 years ago (because it turns out it was God’s will and) because I fully supported my husband in his endeavors.

I don’t tell him he can’t go to the movies with his friends, or go hang out with his dudes. He doesn’t have a wife who waits up if he isn’t home at a certain hour or who gets mad if he wants to spend some time with people other than me.

I don’t ever want him to resent me, and I don’t ever want him to feel like I’m holding him back from pursuing things he wants to achieve. What kind of a marriage thrives on resentment?

No – the ball and chain had to go. My marriage to Brent has been one of the most freeing, beautiful, enchanting events I’ve ever had. Our marriage isn’t based on restrictions. It isn’t based on strict rules we never lived by before we got married. It isn’t a prison term. It isn’t a dutiful obligation.

Our marriage is a choice to stay committed to one another, to support one another, and to further the other on beyond what they thought possible.

Our marriage is a chance to have fun, freedom, and fulfillment with a partner along for every step of the way. A chance to spur one another on to grow spiritually and personally.

Our marriage is no ball and chain.

We still have our days, of course. There are days I’d love to hit him over the head with a weighted ball, and I can tell you he has days he’d probably like to put me in a chain-gang. But marriage, as a whole, is not at all relative to a prison term.

It’s tough at times. Marriage is flat out hard. I’m not going to pretend we’ve had a cakewalk relationship for the last several years. We haven’t. We’ve had several struggles – some of them incredibly severe and painful – but we’ve overcome and walked through to the other side together.

If your marriage has you feeling trapped, weighted down, or stunted in personal growth – I’m sorry to tell you this: you’re doing it wrong.

I’m not competing with my husband. I’m not trying to pull him back while I sprint further ahead. It’s not a race to any one achievement or accomplishment. It’s not anything I need to regard as one of us being in control or command while the other falls in line.

Husbands – Wives – break up with your ball and chain. Run free, and run fast alongside your spouse while chasing your dreams together. It’s not like the movies. It’s going to be messy. It’s going to be laden with mistakes along the way. But it’s also going to be a tremendous help to your marriage, when you set yourselves free to support one another.

Who’s with me in dumping their ball and chain?

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