A young prince was kidnapped by an evil enchanter. His captor agreed to release him on one condition, he must answer the following question: what does a woman really want? He had a year to answer before his life was forfeit.
The Prince travelled far and wide, asking everyone he met, but nobody could tell him. On the last day of the year, he came across an old hag who promised to give him his answer on one condition, that he marry her.
The prince was by this time desperate and agreed to her price.
“What every woman wants,” she said, “is to have her own way.”
The prince immediately knew this was the correct answer and that his life was spared. But now he had to marry this hideous woman.
On his wedding night, entering the royal bedchamber, he discovered a beautiful maiden waiting for him. Because he had married her, she told him, the spell making her ugly had been partially lifted. She could now reveal her true beauty, but only half the time. Which did he prefer, a beautiful wife by day, or by night?
The prince, however, had grown wise during his travels and smiled. “You must do as you please,” he said.
“Thank you,” she said. “Then I choose to be beautiful all the time.”
There is a moral to this story, which I will come to, but let us consider for a moment.
This story is not about women but about all of us. We all have a need for autonomy; to do things our own way; to have choices in life. A study carried out into the health of British Civil servants during the 1970s concluded that, after all other factors had been accounted for, those employees with little control over how they did their jobs had a higher rate of heart attacks – and indeed, general bad health — than those who had more freedom in how they performed their tasks.
The feeling of powerlessness is dangerous to our health and certainly to our state of mind.
My parents-in-law, now in their nineties, have reached the stage where it is no longer possible for them to live independently; things must now change. Because we love them, we want them still to have as much choice as possible, we want them to have their own way, even though their ways forward are few.
Some of us have a large amount of freedom to choose and, for some of us, those freedoms are restricted. It can be useful, however, to focus on the freedoms we do have. Can we choose what to wear each day, choose to drink coffee or tea, choose to read or to watch TV? Even when we feel we have little control in life, we can have our own way in the little things.
As for the moral of the story, it’s simple: if you don’t give a woman her own way, things will get ugly!
A Moodscope member.