There is Power in Making a Decision
My client, “Ben” was frustrated. He did not know what to do, and felt like there was no answer.
He and his wife had been distant for long he could not even remember when it started. A few weeks ago, he told her that he felt it was time to separate. They had been struggling for years and it was only getting worse.
They were arguing more.
They were sleeping in separate bedrooms.
The only things they discussed were related to the kids.
Ben worried about what they were teaching their kids about love and marriage.
He felt like their only answer was to separate.
Not surprisingly, that’s not what his wife wanted so they spent the next three hours trying to convince one another…
…her trying to convince him to stay…
…him trying to convince her that the right answer was to take a break…
Since that conversation they have both fallen silent; neither wanting to cause an argument and neither really having the emotional energy to re-hash it all yet again. They are co-existing in the same house. Not taking any steps to make the relationship better and not taking any steps to separate either. They’re at a stand-still. Stuck. Ben is anxious and wants forward motion one way or the other.
Here’s the problem:
Ben didn’t express a decision to his wife; he expressed an opinion and then hoped she would agree.
There’s a very different energy to telling someone a decision you’ve made, compared to presenting evidence trying to make the other person understand or agree with you.
One is gently stating something as fact and the other is seeking understanding or approval.
One is 3-4 sentences and the other is hours upon hours of a painful discussion and possible arguing and blaming.
One you can take action from, the other leaves you stuck in your opinions.
What if she never fully understands?
What if she would never agree with that decision?
Nothing would ever get better and nothing would ever change.
It sounds harsh in the context of ending a marriage, doesn’t it? But this wasn’t the first time they had had this painful conversation about how to fix the problems in their marriage. It wasn’t the tenth time…It wasn’t even (most likely) the hundredth time. This has been hundreds of conversations and arguments, endless battles and blaming over the course of at least the last decade. They went to marriage retreats, couples counseling, and read dozens of different marriage books and it wasn’t getting better. Ben’s wife was hurt and disappointed, but she wasn’t taken off-guard. Ben had taken years to reach such a big decision.
Even if you’re not at the point of being ready to make the decision to throw in the towel on your marriage, the concept of stating a decision that’s true for you versus trying to gain consensus from two opposing viewpoints is still applicable.
There’s power in making a decision.
There’s power in getting really clear about what’s true for you.
There’s power in moving forward once a decision is made.
The torture is in staying stuck.
Do you want to stay stuck?