The Challenge of Marital Dilemmas

Sometimes decision making is hard....

Sometimes decision making is hard….

Couples sometimes hope a counselor will put pressure on their spouse to change. Counselors resist that role for several reasons, confident that there’s a force for change more powerful than any counselor. It’s called the marital dilemma. Counselors don’t need to put pressure on anybody. Marital dilemmas do a dandy job without any help. Here are some examples.
  • “I want to make sure my partner doesn’t do anything I disapprove of AND I don’t want to be called controlling.”
  • “I want my partner to make all the decisions so I don’t have to AND I want to be a mature adult.”
  • “I want to grow in patience AND I want to avoid situations that require patience.”
  • “I want the prerogative to forget birthdays, anniversaries, and Valentine’s Day AND I want my partner to like it.”
  • “I want my spouse to communicate with me AND I want them only to say things that I like.”
  • “I want the right to withhold sex indefinitely AND I want to feel secure that my spouse won’t resent it.”
  • “I want to drink as much and as often as I want AND I want to act responsibly.”
  • “I am stubborn and refuse to change AND I want to be happy.”
  • “I want my partner to support me financially AND I don’t want them to spend so much time at work.”
  • “I want my partner to help me overcome procrastination AND I want them to stay quiet when I’m late.”
  • “I acquiesce, cave, give in, and accommodate to my partner’s every whim AND I want to get my way once in a while.”
  • “I want to trust my partner’s decisions AND I want to live risk free.”
  • “I want to control my partner AND I want them to like it.”
  • “I want my partner to meet my needs AND I want them to meet my needs without being asked.”
  • “I want our marriage to grow, improve, get better AND I want to avoid the hard work of making personal changes.”
  • “To make sure my partner and I agree on everything I’ll make them agree with me AND I want them to do so voluntarily.”
  • “To make sure my partner and I agree on everything I’ll agree with them AND I also want a voice in this marriage.”

My response to comments like these? “You’ve got a dilemma. You want two things but you can’t have them both. Instead of working on the marriage the marriage is working on you. Now is your chance to make important inner changes. These dilemmas are the incentive for growth! Yay! Relish them. You can resist them or you can be happy; the choice is yours.”

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1 Comment

  1. Meredith Moyer

     /  January 29, 2013

    Love this Erik. I think you should sent this to Bill Orilley/Fox News….for his ‘NO SPIN ZONE” show! We need it! Do we ever need it! 🙂


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