Reality Check: Recognizing the Freedom to Choose

Once upon a time, Emma and William had a great relationship. Then, Emma decided she wanted to marry William, but William was reluctant to comply. Does the need for  freedom have an impact here?

Emma doesn’t think she’s seeking freedom; she wants commitment. Yet, she’s afraid that she’s “trapped”—forever a girlfriend, never a wife. Emma’s want is to be free of that trap.

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You can find the first article in the series here.

Emma often complains to William about why her vision is right for them, even though she recognizes that when she complains, the relationship isn’t much fun. Ranting about the future has replaced the joyfulness of this relationship in the present; the relationship has started to feel like a trap for both.

The last straw came for Emma in the form of a romantic Valentine’s evening. William arrived with roses, there was dinner and wine, and Emma was ecstatic, certain that the proposal was coming. It didn’t.

The evening ended with tears and accusations. Instead of enjoying the wine, the roses, and the effort that William had made to please her, Emma chose to be miserable because the result hadn’t met her expectation.

Finally, Emma realizes that she doesn’t want to continue this way. Something needs to change. What are her options?

Emma’s prevailing thought has been, “William should want to marry me.” However, she acknowledges that she can only control her own behaviour. She can’t control William; she can’t make him want to marry her. That’s a fact.

Emma has a freedom that she hasn’t wanted to acknowledge, that is, the freedom to have the relationship with William as he is, or to leave the relationship. That is her choice.

Does that mean that Emma should dump William—the man she loves—in the hope that she’ll find someone to marry her? No.

However, Emma can look at her life and say, ”What direction do I want?” She can’t control William, but she can control her own direction.

William has the freedom to ask Emma to marry him, or not. But he doesn’t control Emma. He doesn’t have to propose, but he can’t “make” her continue as his girlfriend, either.

Planning can be so helpful, don’t you find? Even if your plan stays within the privacy of your own mind, the act of planning can be marvelously clarifying.

Emma realizes that hassling William about marriage is not helpful. She might make a plan to try something different (how about…not hassling William about marriage?) She could even share her plan with William: that she wants to get married, but is choosing not to mention it again.

Another part of her plan could be to consider what she will choose to do should they not marry. Emma will feel that she has more effective control over her life if she has a plan B. She may choose to share that plan with William, or not. It’s her choice.

The classic Serenity Prayer suggests that it’s wise to know the difference between the things you can and cannot change. Do you think that Emma’s recognition of those differences will enable her to get more effective control over her life? Let me know

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