tenderness & gentleness: finding yourself

 "Give me my Romeo; and when I shall die take him and cut him in little stars and he will make the face of heaven so fine that all will be in love with night and pay no worship to the garish son." -Shakespeare 

The quote above (which is one of my personal favorites) is full of passion, love, poetry, dependence and romance. All things we are told by the world to forsake in the name of success, independence and "surviving."

For a long time marriage was the only option for women. You didn't find a job; you found a husband. While I think it is great that women now work and can hold careers, I do not think it is good how we have become anti-marriage and anti-relationship. Women have the right to long for a sucessful vocation, but mention that you want to get married and every one attacks. "If you get married you will have to sacrifice so much. You will lose who you are as a person!" they say. "Focus on your career. You don't need to get married." 

Remember Steve Martin's character in Father of the Bride? In awe that his little girl is getting married he reminds his daughter that she used to not "believe in marriage. I thought it meant a woman lost her identity."

Is marriage the reason women "lose their identity?" Do relationships in general aid in this conundrum?

Perhaps the best answer to this question is yes and no. Yes, a relationship may steal a woman's hopes, dreams, likes, dislikes. If that relationship is unhealthy. Throw anyone into a toxic, controlling, manipulative situation and let them be brainwashed. They will change, likely not for the good. I am sure we have all seen this: a woman starts dating a man and suddenly she is dressing in order to please him, she doesn't talk as much so she won't annoy him, she changes her hair color to his favorite shade. And what happens when they break it off and a new man comes along? New wardrobe, new personality, new hair color.

But, in the experience of a healthy, thriving relationship a sense of self can actually grow, not deplete. Pamela King, in The Reciprocating Self, said "The closer and more intimately I have grown with my husband, the more I have learned about myself.  It is in partnership with another that we more fully encounter not only the other but ourselves."

The South African word "ubuntu" holds a meaning that affirms Pamela King's thoughts. This word stands for a philosophy which claims one person is not who they are truly meant to be until they are in a community.

Being healthily dependent on someone is not evil. Trust is the crux of relationships and without relationships a very sad, lonely life would be lived.

What are your views on marriage and relationship? Do you think a woman loses herself in these sorts of commitments? Do you agree with the philosophy Ubuntu?

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