Monday, November 22, 2004

New freedoms  

Before I got married, I lived a pretty carefree life. I stayed up as late as I wanted and went to bed only when I was good and ready. I fell asleep on the couch watching TV at least once every couple of weeks. I ate whatever I could find at whatever hour suited me. If I wanted to hang out with friends until 2:00 a.m., then that's what I did. I earned my own money and I spent it on whatever I could afford that caught my eye. I freely commented on the merits of various women I knew, knew of, or happened to see walking by. I watched every science fiction movie and television show I could find. It was a time of real freedom.

Then I married Mrs. Happy. I now coordinate my bedtime with hers. I haven't once fallen asleep watching TV in the past six years. I eat whatever we both agree on, usually at a time convenient for both of us. If my friends want me to hang out with them until 2:00 a.m., I graciously excuse myself and go home to my wife. I earn money to support us both, and we have to think out our purchases before spending any of it. My comments on other women now generally come in response to a question from my wife. She asks: "Don't you think she's pretty?" I respond: "Maybe. We should introduce her to Jeff. I bet he'd like her." My time spent watching and talking about sci-fi movies is pretty much restricted to what I can see with my geek friends. This is a time of freedom much greater than what I experienced in bachelorhood.

I'm reminded of something C.S. Lewis wrote in one of his books. I can't remember which one, so I have to quote it from memory:

"Are you truly free now, then?" his friend asked.
"Free in the way that a man who is drinking water is free to keep drinking. He is not free still to be dry," he answered.

I no longer have the same sort of freedom I had as a bachelor. It's not that I can't do the same things I used to, but a married man living like a bachelor now would be like a bird that walks everywhere. My wife empowers me, supports me, loves me, and makes me a better person. Besides, it's not like we live in a prison.

We sometimes watch TV into the wee hours. If we want to go out to eat, or take a road trip, we can do that without having to plan it out in advance. We can treat the whole house like a bedroom. We can procrastinate with household chores if we feel like taking a nap. We can leave kitchen knives in easily accessible places. We can balance books precariously on shelves when we run out of room in other places. We're living in a time of real freedom. Some day, though (if God wills it), we'll have a child or two sharing the house. I wonder if that will turn out to be a ball-and-chain type of responsibility, or if it will turn out to be a time of even greater freedom.