"Do now, do now, what you will wish to have done when your moment comes to die." [St. Angela Merici]

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

When Your Choice is Not My Choice

By Micky Wolf
It does not take long for two people who have been married for more than a few days (or is that a few minutes?) to realize there are going to be plenty of opportunities to make choices about a multitude of things ranging from the rather simple “where do we go for dinner” to the more complex, “is this house the one we want to buy”. 

While it is true it is probably easier to make choices and decisions when we live alone, any time you add more people to the mix, the greater the likelihood things may get a bit sticky. And, wow, how I was reminded, ever so painfully, of this reality several days ago. To be clear, let me specify: painful to my ego-self and ugh, that would involve the sin of pride. What then, served to be the tipping point—make that tripping trigger—in this instance? 

First, let’s consider choice-making in light of truth and myth.

Truth #1the choices you or I make always affect others and self in some way. Might be a little way, or a great big way, but the bottom line is the same. For better or for worse, each and every time we make a decision and take action, we impact the people, environment, or culture around us. Would that we were cognizant of this principal, but the fact is, we often overlook it.

In a perfect world, we would always be thoughtful, considerate and selfless, attentive to the consequences of what we are about to say or do.

Truth #2the choices you or I make about X, Y, or Z is often predicated on a number of factors: previous experience with a similar situation and the outcome, pleasant or unpleasant; time pressures of the moment; the lack of or availability of helpful information; and most important—a desire we may or may not be aware of, on some level, for personal and immediate satisfaction or gratification.

In a perfect world, we would be recognize when the choices we are about to make are mostly focused on self rather others, but the fact is, we tend to react in the moment rather than pause long enough to see the long term affects.

Truth #3the choices you or I make may be reflective of how much we understand or are equipped to incorporate Christ-centered discernment in our decision-making processes. Each of us is at different place in our faith journey, which means we are a work in progress. What we know about Divine Truth and our wherewithal to hear His still small voice is an ongoing process of learning to cooperate with God’s grace. What makes sense and seems okay today may very well be only part of the picture. 

In a perfect world, all of us would be knowledgeable, insightful, and mature Christians from the first moment we say yes to love, follow, and serve Jesus.

Myth #1—in order to have a lasting, loving, peace-filled marriage, we need to have the same perspective, ergo same ideology, when making decisions. Not so much. There is a huge difference between coming into agreement and unity for how to respond in various situations and blindly following one or the other with the misguided notion we can avoid conflict or differences. Yes, getting married is about “the two becoming one”, but, it is not about each person losing their uniqueness as beings created in the image and likeness of God. 

In a perfect world, we would be more respectful and accepting of each other, regardless of the strengths or weaknesses we carry as sons and daughters of the Most High.

Myth #2when a choice our spouse makes is  not the one we would choose, it now becomes my business and responsibility to convince you of the error of your ways. Slippery, slippery, ground for sure. How many of us know marriage is not about making our spouse our personal DIY project and yet we do our best to make it so anyway. Not once. Or twice. But more times than we care to admit. Our ‘tactics’ may become more refined the longer we are together but it’s still the same idea that drives the desire to ‘renovate’—I really do know better than you what is best for you. 

In a perfect world, each of us would be open to personal healing, growth, and transformation, responding ever so quickly to the lightest touch of our loving and compassionate God. Who, by most counts is not now or ever will be you, or me.

Myth #3—people tend to make the same choices and follow the same routines day in and day out, especially if they have been married for a number of years. Okay, maybe some truth here, however, if we buy completely into this myth we may as well as discount all possibility that you or I can change, or we can step into new insight and revelation about God, our spouse, and our self. There’s little doubt we develop habits of choice, good and bad, over a period of time. Nevertheless, if we literally or figuratively throw up our hands in unbelief and defeat, we will have effectively closed our minds and hearts to the power of God’s love and grace to work within each of us. Do you really want to slam that door?

In a perfect world, all of us would make the healthiest, most loving and compassionate choice possible in each and every situation. We would always put our spouse first. We would arrive at unity in a matter of minutes rather than days, weeks, or even months. By any other name, that seems to be what God calls Heaven. All in due time.

So, what happened in the aftermath of the incident which prompted all of this? Well, I apologized to my beloved and asked for forgiveness. (Okay, I know you really want to know—it was the slippery slope of Myth #2 which was the scene of my undoing.) He graciously and lovingly accepted. Will it happen again? Yep, only a matter of time and circumstance for either one of us. 

Maybe one of the most important things to remember as a couple is this: any time we need to make a decision about something, our first choice will be to remember to love, accept, and encourage one another in all the ways we sensed would be so loving and meaningful in the moments we said, “I do”.

How do I feel about the choices my spouse makes?

Which choices are unsettling? Loving?

What do I need to change about myself in order to allow my spouse to grow?

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