Captivating Photo Essay Destroys the Idea of a Marriage Ball and Chain

Getting and staying married is not something that happens easily. Even more difficult is staying happily married. My wife and I don’t take it for granted that we’ve stayed happily married for 12 years. Although we are not happy 100% of the time, we’ve fought to remain as close to it as possible.

The Marriage Ball and Chain

There are so many ideas about marriage that do not contribute to staying married and remaining happy in marriage. One of those ideas is the marriage ball and chain. The marriage ball and chain presents the idea that once married, your life changes for the worst.

The wedding ring you put on comes with shackles, a chain, and a heavy ball that restricts your life. You are no longer able to live life freely. You are restricted to the length of that chain, and so is your spouse. This idea is destructive to marriages, and it is so far from the truth.

A Journey to Freedom

I have experienced just the opposite. In fact, my marriage has been a journey to freedom. Yes, a journey to freedom. I have the freedom to be who I am. I have the freedom to be transparent and completely open. I have someone who loves me like they love themselves, and sometimes loves me better than I love myself.

It is indescribable at times, and not everyone can relate. But recently I found something that captures it in stunning fashion. I found a photo essay by Angela Caldwell called “Ball and Chain {A Journey to Freedom}.” What Angela has done with the ball and chain essay is nothing short of amazing.

A personal journey through photos

She has captured the story that takes place in a married couple’s journey. It will resonate with everyone who has taken this journey. And not only has she captured it, but she has destroyed the destructive idea of the marriage ball and chain in the process.

Angela has given me permission to share her essay below.  Before you view the essay, I’ll let Angela set it up for you. Enjoy…

“Ball and Chain is a photo essay about marriage. This fine art project is touching the hearts of many in different ways. Hope you enjoy the personal journey it takes you on. It may be painful for some and it may be joyful for others, but in the end it is a beautiful piece of art.” – Angela Caldwell

Please share your thoughts on the Ball and Chain {A Journey to Freedom} below.

All photos used with permission from Angela Caldwell, whose amazing work you can find on her website.

  • Ball and Chain {a Journey to Freedom} 1 of 13
    Ball and Chain up close

    Click through to take the journey in photos.

  • What have I gotten into… 2 of 13
    Ball and Chain1

    When you get married, you find out marriage isn't exactly as you expected it to be. Movie marriages, your parents' marriages, and even your ideal of marriage may be far from the reality of marriage. It can be shocking and disappointing. Honestly, neither one of us had big dreams and ideas about marriage prior to getting married. But we didn't think it would be like it was.

  • I had no idea I’d be so lonely… 3 of 13
    Ball and Chain2

    I can remember my wife feeling lonely in our marriage. We could be in the same room, or a room full of people, but it didn't feel that way. I experienced it myself as well.

  • What was I thinking… 4 of 13
    Ball and Chain3

    When we began having issues, or things didn't go as expected, we began to isolate ourselves. We didn't tell one another what was really on our minds. Conversation became surface level, if it even happened at all.

  • I can’t do this anymore… 5 of 13
    Ball and Chain5

    At some point you feel there is no hope. When your hope is gone, you make unwise decisions. One of the worst decisions is separation or divorce. I'm thankful we embraced a hard stance about divorce talk, jokes, or anything divorce-related.

  • I’ll do my part, you do yours, and we’ll be free… 6 of 13
    Ball and Chain6

    I'm cool and you're cool, but this isn't working. This is the best way for you, and the best way for me. I disagree from personal experience. We've been through some very tough situations that very easily could have been justifiable reasons to go different ways. Primarily because it would have been easier and would have given our kids some stability, but we never wavered and later we were proven right in this decision.

  • I thought going separate ways would be quick and easy… 7 of 13
    Ball and Chain7

    The fight for what you think is freedom isn't as easy and painless as you thought. I can remember making dumb decisions and saying dumb things, but it didn't work out very well for me. 

  • Am I really stuck… 8 of 13
    Ball and Chain8

    At some point a marriage reaches a crossroads. What you thought was easy and painless actually isn't. It saps you of more strength than anything else. And you end up still in the same situation, but worn out. There were times in our marriage where the best words I could use to sum it up were the words, "I'm tired."

  • Whatever it takes, we are breaking free… 9 of 13
    Ball and Chain9

    Desperation may come into your marriage. Desperation can lead to you to do some crazy things. I think this is the stage where marriage and life-altering decisions are made. The decisions seem good and pleasurable at the time, but the pain lasts a lifetime. And you may find out later it doesn't solve the problem. For our marriage, I made questionable money and business decisions which I thought would give us the freedom we desired. I found out later, after being broken, homeless, and in debt that that wasn't the solution.

  • We can do it, if we give it all we have… 10 of 13
    Ball and Chain11

    Through it all there comes a shift. A shift from me, or I, to we. If you noticed the captions on all the previous photos, they were from the standpoint of one person. Each person has been focused on his or her individual needs. But when that focus changes to your spouse, things change. I was very selfish early in my marriage. My wife wasn't totally selfless either. Until that changed, we were destined to an unfulfilled and unhappy relationship at best.

  • Oh my! We just might be free… 11 of 13
    Ball and Chain12

    Progress finally! Once our marriage went from me to we, we started to see progress in whatever we were doing. All marriages go through this to some degree. It is a challenging shifting from focusing on having our needs met, and usually doing it alone, to having to meet the needs of someone else. But our marriage will notice a change for the better at this point.

  • We are pretty amazing together… 12 of 13
    Ball and Chain13

    Going from me to we changed our perspectives of one another. I am able to see my wife in a different light. Even the things that frustrate me are uniquely her and can be loved or tolerated at the least. The same has happened with her, and the same will happen in your marriage.

  • We are finally FREE…our journey is freedom. 13 of 13
    Ball and Chain14

    The journey to freedom is clear now, and it is even more amazing than you could have imagined. Our marriage is far from perfect, and probably looks pretty crazy sometimes. But I can say this journey has been and continues to be amazing. The marriage ball and chain is a myth and we are living a wonderful journey. Your marriage may be on the same journey...

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