Balancing commitment and freedom in a relationship

If we’re honest, most of us want the comfort, security, love and companionship of a relationship. AND we want our freedom. Come on.  Admit it.  You know it’s true.  Or maybe it’s more like you want your freedom, but you don’t want your partner to have theirs.  Not fair.  Both people are entitled to equal rights and as a couple, need to find a way to live in their relationship that gives them as much personal freedom as possible and still fulfills the responsibilities of the relationship.

Take note: being in a committed relationship does not mean you possess your partner.  Everyone needs room to be and to grow.  One person’s insecurities should not restrict the others’ path for growth.  For example, if your partner needs to be alone, to have time with friends, have an interest that doesn’t include you, you need to allow it.  If you feel threatened, then that’s your growing edge; the place you need to explore to gain insight into the deeper reason for your fear.

People who want to possess their partner didn’t feel safe at an early age.  Maybe a parent left the family and every time their partner leaves, that old fear that they’re not coming back pops up.  The fear is so great, that they never want to let their partner out of their sight.  So they cling and clutch and smother in an effort not to feel abandoned again.  Although this hovering behavior might temporarily assuage the anxiety, it doesn’t offer a permanent solution.

A permanent solution comes from being able to discern past from present.  Maybe in the past you felt abandoned, but in the present, it’s not happening.  If you act as though it is, you create a tight, rigid relationship that lacks trust, which doesn’t make for a happy union.  We are happiest when we have room to stretch and pursue the things that spark our lives.  If that is squelched, watch out…trouble’s on the way.

Freedom is all within reason, of course.  If you are constantly away pursuing your own interests, and don’t make time for your partner, that’s a different story.  Couples need time together in order to thrive.  Time to talk, to share activities, to laugh and play, to be intimate. Finding the balance takes effort, with each partner doing their best to understand and have compassion for the others’ wounds and vulnerabilities.  Not that one person’s wounds should restrict the other, but if you offer compassion, it goes a long way toward making things better.

The balance between personal freedom and commitment is well worth the energy it takes to find it.  I hope you’ll make the effort.  You’ll be all the happier for it.

For more information about commitment, read Fighting over commitment? Here’s a solution.

Check out my book, The Affair: From Breakdown to Breakthrough, A Therapist’s Real-life Journey, for more great tips and insights about relationships. You can read a synopsis of the book on my website, and buy it worldwide from all Amazon websites (both print and Kindle) and Barnes and Noble.

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