We make choices all the time in our relationships. ” Should I stay or should I go now, if I go there will be trouble. An’ if I stay it will be double.” (The Clash)
We choose whether to speak up or stay silent. We choose whether to be aggressive or a martyr, to be open or closed, to move toward or away, to be honest or deceptive, to be supportive or to undermine. In longterm relationships we often make silent agreements. We decide to put up with things we don’t like. We decide to make allowances. We decide to settle for less than the ideal. We often make these decisions unilaterally, without discussion with the other person and often without taking ownership for the decisions ourselves.
Based on the choices we make, unintentional patterns frequently develop, and we fall into roles and imbalance. Behavior can become overly demanding or accommodating; individuals can become overly dependent or independent.
Very often people end up fed up. They reach a breaking point and seemingly the relationship ends abruptly. Parties leave the relationship feeling resentful and cheated. Each person feels they were a victim to circumstance and the other party’s insensitivity or unwillingness to change. Here is the thing. You are always making choices, so learn to make conscious ones. Assess the situation and choose with awareness from the options at hand.
There are typically three basic alternatives to choose from: 1. Put up and shut up – You accept that this is the way it is, and the good stuff is worth staying for. You decide the situation isn’t going to change; you realize that, accept it and choose to go forward without seeking change. 2. Speak up and hope for the best – You are determined to stay regardless of the other party’s willingness or unwillingness to change, but you are going to do your best to make improvements and give it your best shot. 3. Realize good enough isn’t enough – You know full well you risk losing the relationship entirely because the other person may choose not to change, but the current situation is not satisfying enough to keep you committed. You’ll work toward change, but if things don’t improve, you are out of there. If the relationship proves untenable you will end it.
It is up to you. We are always making choices. And we always have choices to make. The good news is the choice is always yours to make. So start being aware of what you are choosing and take responsibility for those choices. Personal power lives here – not power over the other person – but power to choose your path.