By Megan Goldberg
All throughout growing up, my father always told me to be independent because that prince I may marry one day could become a frog, and then what would I do if I couldn’t financially support myself? As I find myself coming to the end of my undergraduate career of biomedical engineering and preparing to apply to med school, I have discovered multiple reasons why independence is important other than that it gives you an escape route.
I don’t mean the equality feminists have been fighting for since the ’60s, I mean equality within your relationship. One thing I have discovered within my own relationship is that if two people are independent then they are more likely to act as a team and less like a hierarchy. If one spouse has something over the other, then there is a power separation that may become a problem somewhere down the road. The last thing anyone wants is to have to ask their spouse for money to buy x, y, or z because that shows a clear power separation much like a parent-child relationship. I want to add that you shouldn’t confuse asking your spouse for money with asking for their permission—because any unnecessary big expense should be discussed with your spouse prior to purchase so that no undermining or resentment builds, but that’s another conversation.
2. It gives you self-worth.
Acquiring a skill set separates you from other people. Whether it is a month-long certification course or a master’s degree, having that specific knowledge allows you to get some type of job that most others cannot. It means that someone would be willing to pay you to access your abilities, that you are important and unique. Not that successfully raising kids doesn’t also give you self-worth, but I have seen the destruction that comes with someone taking too much pride in their children. If someone defines themselves by their kids, then their identity is one in the same as their children and the shortcomings or failures of the children become their own. This is unhealthy for multiple reasons, one being that a part of growing up is to make mistakes so the parent would inevitably face failure. Too often this results in a wacky parent that becomes delusional about their kids’ perfection because they are unable to face any flaws. It also leads to marital issues once the kids move out due to not knowing what to do anymore; they have lost their identity. Taking pride in your kids is perfectly okay, as long as it’s not the only thing that gives you self-worth because it is harmful for both you and the children.
I think freedom is the most obvious reason as of why independence is important. If you are independent both financially and mentally, then you can do as you please. You don’t feel as if you have to limit yourself or act a certain way to satisfy anyone else which would ultimately lead to a confident, happy life. If you want to buy that nice TV or go spend a weekend at a ski resort with some friends then nothing is stopping you. Maybe worst case scenario is that you have to save up some cash for a while but at least you wouldn’t have to ask anyone for money.
Not only does being independent give you the option to leave a bad marriage, but it gives you the real freedom to choose who you want to be with. My husband is a blue-collar worker but he does make decent money thanks to being in a strong union. However, even if he didn’t make a good salary I would have still married the man of my dreams and be able to live the lifestyle I want because my job and salary determines that. I didn’t have to marry someone who made a certain amount of money to achieve my ideal living situation, because whether I am a doctor or an engineer I will make enough to do what I want and live how I want. People often ask him what did he do to get someone like me, but I feel as if I am the one who is lucky to have him not because of what he does but because of who he is.[divider] [/divider]
Megan is a disciplined, quiet southern Virginia girl who tries her best to balance her busy life. She is currently finishing her undergraduate degree of Biomedical Engineering but has the intention to extend her educational adventure to medical school. When she isn’t studying in the city, she likes to spend as much time as she can back at home with her husband and family. Her interests are learning about the human body, self-improvement, and about different perspectives on what people think love is.
Photo by Courtney Carmody