Every day, in so many ways, you make choices. Many of those choices will have an impact on your partner and/or on the relationship.
Let me give you an example:
You are invited to join a social group to hike twice per month. You love to hike, and you haven’t done it in a long time. Your partner isn’t interested in outdoor strenuous activity. Also, you’ve been putting on some weight lately, and work stress is taking its’ toll. You’ve recently been told that your blood pressure numbers are rising. So, you decide it would be a worthwhile activity, and you accept the invitation. You’ve made a choice.
When you tell your significant other, they aren’t pleased. After all, they say, who will help with the kids while you hike? What about the house and yard? And, your partner informs you, THEY haven’t gone out and done anything fun, on their own, for a very long time.
Is it wrong to have an activity just for you? If your partner cares for you, shouldn’t they want you to relax and to be healthy? Yes! So, how can you make those choices in ways that work for the relationship?
Suppose you told the hiking group organizer “Sounds great. Let me check my schedule and I’ll let you know”. Then you speak to your partner face-to-face, saying that you’ve been invited to join, and explaining the time commitment. Ask your partner if your absence would cause problems, and if so, what are those problems? Would a compromise help? Say, doing it once per month instead of twice, or seeking another group that hikes on different days?
Does your partner object because they don’t get (or take) time for themselves? If so, asking “What can I do to help make that time possible for you?” could be a way of making your choice work for everyone.
When you choose for your partner, you may be deciding to give them what they want even though it might be tough for you.
Suppose you’re an introvert, and that you need lots of alone time to recharge. Maybe socializing is uncomfortable for you. But now your partner is asking you to push through that discomfort and attend some social events with them. You could ask some curious questions, such as “Why is it important to you that I be with you?”, “How do you feel attending alone?”, or “That’s a pretty big event. Are there some smaller and more casual events that I could attend with you?”. Choosing to attend some of those events, if you can do it gracefully (no pouting, sulking, or complaining) can be choosing for your significant other.
What about choosing for you? You are an important person, and this relationship is made up of both of you. It is important that you don’t give up your sense of self. Suppose you want to read instead of watch TV with your partner, but they complain. Being able to say that you will enjoy reading for an hour or two, but would later enjoy spending time with your partner doing something else, something you’d both enjoy (and come up with some suggestions), would be choosing for you.
Remember; all things in moderation. Be aware of how often you make one of these 3 kinds of choices. Is one predominant? If there’s too much of one and not enough of the others, this relationship will get out of balance
Choosing for the relationship means that you evaluate the choices you make, whether for you or for your partner, in light of the consequences to the relationship.
An example; if the sexual relationship between the two of you isn’t working well, and you give in to the temptation of an affair, assuming you won’t get caught, you are making a choice against the relationship. Whether you get caught or you don’t, not constructively addressing something that is sufficiently wrong that it drives a decision for cheating will be destructive. Choosing for the relationship might mean getting professional help to assist the two of you to overcome the problem.
Remember: it’s always a choice.