Strong Men
Strong Marriage

You Belong to Me

One thing that has really gotten me into trouble in my marriage is thinking that I somehow own my wife or have any real claims on her. Now, before you take that the wrong way, please understand that I’m talking about a very subtle thing here. I don’t actually think I “own” my wife the way you own a piece of furniture or a car. What I mean is that I have believed at some level that being married means she somehow belongs to me, and therefore I can expect certain regular benefits from her. How many popular songs have helped us think of our mates this way? “You’re Mine” and “You Belong to Me” and “When I Make You Mine”?

When we get married we are supposed to unite with another and “become one”; we share resources and we feel that our wives are somehow extensions of us. We take pride in their appearance and accomplishments and feel down when they fail or feel bad. Marriage, we are taught, is all about feeling that you are “one” with your spouse. But, becoming one with another person can be full of pain unless we have the right understanding about it.

The only way to become one with another person is to become truly “one” with yourself. It’s a paradox: the key to becoming united with your loved one is to become a more loving person, one who is complete and strong alone. Learning to love that way requires that we give up expecting our spouses to complete us, make us feel better on demand, or provide services in the kitchen, bedroom or anywhere else. I have experienced firsthand how destructive those expectations within a marriage can be.

Every time I think my wife somehow owes me sex or affection it seems to push her away and ends up making me feel more alone and incomplete. It’s not the asking that’s the problem; it’s the idea I have that she’s mine that creates the trouble. If something is mine I can control it. If it’s not I’ve got to let go—and that’s the hardest thing for me to do sometimes.

We have to understand that the fundamental contract of marriage is one that is founded on free will. If our women cook our dinner, have sex with us, or even show up happily for another day of marriage we can give thanks for their presence. Truly, they don’t owe us anything.

It’s great to be a couple and to have a lifelong companion, friend and lover. But, give up the notion that your spouse “belongs” to you. The belief that your spouse is “yours” will feed poison into the veins of your marriage.

©2008, Marty Friedman

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Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads, which sew people together through the years. - Simone Signoret

Martin G. Friedman is the author of “Straight Talk for Men About Marriage—What Men Need to Know About Marriage (And What Women Need to Know About Men)”. For many years, Marty Friedman taught corporate managers how to create good relationships at work before tackling male/female relationship issues--and applying what he learned to his own marriage. The founder of Men in Marriage, Marty is regularly interviewed on radio and television, and talks to organizations and individuals from a unique, inspirational and humorous perspective. Find out more at

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