I often get a little lost considering this question, both professionally and personally. In every relationship between two people, there are endless times when a choice you make impacts not only you, but your “other” ( and I include in this category spouse, partner, lover, friend, child, sibling,parent…..you get the idea!) and therefore, the relationship between you is affected and changed, sometimes forever.
Do you consider that impact? And if so, how do you decide?
As a relationship therapist and counselor I help people to deal with these kinds of choices multiple times per day. Sometimes there are unanticipated serious consequences, but in my experience, that’s not as common as are situations where people simply don’t want to think about the possible consequences.
Let’s look at a couple of examples:
1. Big. You are offered a different job. There is more money, more prestige, but also a much longer commute and a significantly higher level of time required. You WANT that job. But you have a family, and a working spouse, so taking it will mean less time with your family and more work needing to be picked up by your spouse. How do you decide? If you take it, are you protecting the relationship?
2. Medium. Your friends have invited you to join a softball team. You need the exercise and enjoy playing, plus you like the social interaction. Your partner supports this, BUT all the practices and games means fewer or even no date nights, and getting those scheduled is something the two of you have struggled to do and maintain and have finally gotten a regular thing going. How do you decide? And if you do it, are you protecting the relationship?
3. Small. (Maybe) You stay at the club for an extra couple of beers after a great golf game. You drive home buzzed, and you get pulled over for speeding, which quickly evolves into a DUI. It’s only about you, right? But who bails you out, and how do the fees for the lawyer and the extra charges for the insurance get handled? Who drives while your license is suspended?
3. Enormous. You give in to impulse and have a one night stand with someone you meet on a business trip. You’ll never see them again, and they don’t live near you, so you’ll never get caught, right? Until a co-worker tags you in a picture on Facebook, and you’re in a compromising position with the person. Wow.
Think about your choices. If you don’t regularly do that, get help to learn how – please!