The power of giving choice

Recently while we were shopping, I saw a child throwing a fit because they had not been given a choice. Rather than being asked “Do you want A or B?” (both were acceptable) the parent said “You’re getting A”. When the child reacted badly, the parent made it a matter of proving their control. I’m all for letting your children know they can’t get their way by throwing a fit, but I felt sorry for the kid because the parent set them up. We all want the power to choose for ourselves, we all want some degree of self-determination. 

Choices © Salvatore Vuono|

What does this have to do with marriage? Everything! You and your wife both have a need to make your own choices, to have some control over your life. If either of you does something that limits the other’s ability to choose, the result will be frustration, anger, and resentment. Even if the intent is not to limit choice, if the result limits choice there will be bad feelings. One common example is making decisions for your spouse, or making decisions that affect both of you, without talking to her first. Even if you do what she would have done, she may feel you don’t respect her or don’t value her right to make choices. Perhaps you feel these things because your wife makes decisions for you at times.

Spend a bit of time thinking about this, both you doing it to her and your wife doing it to you. Then have a calm discussion with your wife. If you realise you’ve done this to her, start by confessing and apologising. If you don’t  think you do this, ask her if she feels you do. Then deal with any concerns you have about her doing it to you. 

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One Comment on “The power of giving choice

  1. Often this is a control issue or a matter of disrespect. Sometimes, though, people make choices for their spouses because they think they are being considerate in some way. I remember an occasion where my husband made a decision on my behalf because he genuinely thought he was helping me by doing so. But that didn’t make me feel much better about the fact that what he chose was the opposite of what I wanted, or that I hadn’t been given a voice in the matter. (Luckily, he doesn’t usually do that sort of thing.) It is really important for spouses to consult each other and accept each other’s influence.

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