Obligation and Marriage

Last updated: Oct 13, 2022

“Relationships based on obligation lack dignity.” Wayne Dyer

Maybe this sounds familiar to you:

“Last night my husband and I were discussing whether or not he would go out of his way to pick up some something for me that is close to his work. I told him I felt a little bit bad asking him to do it because I know he’s tired after his 12 hr shifts and his hand is still healing after the accident we were involved in. He got a bit exasperated and said he’s happy to go out of his way to do something for his wife; because that’s what marriage is–you do things for your spouse that you don’t necessarily like to make the other person happy. And then in return maybe I could just show a little appreciation and do something for him that I don’t necessarily like, such as having sex with him…I am done with using sex as a way to get things in the marriage. It’s something I used to consider to be my wifely duty, and I hated that. I want sex to be about union and pleasure for both partners, not payment or obligation.”

We’ve been taught that marriage is about doing things for each other and your actions will drive how happy or unhappy I am in the relationship.

We’ve been taught that we should do things we don’t want to do because that’s what marriage is.

And when I do something for you that I don’t want to, you now owe me.

  • Love isn’t obligation. Love doesn’t actually need or demand anything.
  • And marriage is not about what you can do for me and what I can do for you. That’s a business arrangement; that’s not love. Marriage is about two grown people who take responsibility for their own needs and happiness and come together to share and experience life together. Love makes life better, it’s not there to serve your needs or fill a gap you refuse to fill yourself.
  • And both of you doing actions for the other that make you miserable only serves to make you both miserable, resentful and longing for more.

Sometimes my beloved and I want the same things. We both love to travel and wanted to live near the beach. Easy enough when we agree on what we both want.

Sometimes I don’t want to do the same things as him, but because I love him, I am glad to do those things occasionally as an act of love (without ever demanding anything in return). He likes when he goes fishing for me to come along with a chair and a book to keep him company (and I think secretly to see firsthand the size of fish he caught…lol).

And sometimes, he doesn’t want to do what I want to do – and that’s his choice. Every adult gets to do whatever they want to do. I don’t have to force him to do anything he doesn’t want to do. I don’t have to guilt him into it or make him feel obligated by bringing up all the things I do. Because the truth is that if I do that, it will only create unnecessary resentments and distance between us that neither of us wants.

  • Love isn’t demanding.
  • Love isn’t obligation.
  • Love isn’t guilt or shame, reciprocity or payment for services rendered.

Love is a feeling we get when we give (to ourselves and others) in a way that feels good when we do so.

And don’t even get me started on using sex as a bargaining chip…or wifely duties…I might just lose my manners.

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Obligation and Marriage




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