Deciding for Other People
|December 27, 2010||Posted by Issa under Simple-Eco-Happy|
On a parenting site I follow on Facebook, someone posed this question:
“On the subject of goals, when you want to try a new idea for the family (grain-free, family cloth), is it a 50/50% decision with your partner or mostly one person’s idea?”
|Photo by edkohler|
Once you’ve got kids with another person, I understand that some things related to the kids are going to be a group decision. However, from the two examples given – grain-free and family cloth (which I call bathroom cloth, instead of centering “the family”) – it seems that the asker is talking about family-wide or “household” decisions. And to me, that seems awfully presumptuous! Both examples really ought to be individual decisions!
The commenters on the thread sounded like they agreed with the presumption of a “household” decision. For example, one commenter replied to the question this way:
“One of us comes up with the idea and mentions it to the other and then we either do it or don’t do it or we do it later after one of us comes around.”
And I’ve got to tell you, this really confuses me. If she wants to try, say, “grain-free”, why does she need her partner’s approval or agreement? I don’t understand why she can’t just go grain-free herself and leave her partner’s dietary habits alone.
Another commenter says:
“Usually it is my idea, but before we go forth with it I bring all info to my husband. Let him know the pros and cons and show him research or my ideas. I always get his input if he isn’t on board with me then it’s a no.”
This commenter has come up with something she wants to try, such as eating a different way, using bathroom cloth, or something else, yet if her husband doesn’t get on board, then she doesn’t do it. This seems really sad to me, because it turns the relationship into a limiting factor. I really bristle at the idea of getting someone else’s approval for things I’d like to try. It sounds tiring and oppressive.
Another commenter says:
“The ideas are usually mine, but I’ve learned that my husband has to be on-board 100%, or else he’s going to resent me for being pushy, and I’m going to resent him for refusing to be pushed along.”
Wow. Why are you being “pushy” with another person? If you’re trying to be bossy about what another person eats or wipes ou’s ass with, it shoudn’t be any shocker when there’s some resentment!
I finally commented in the thread with this:
“I try not to make decisions for other people. If I want to do something, I do it. If my partner wants to do something, he does it. Bathroom cloth is a good example – I use it but my partner doesn’t. Another example in our family is whole wheat bread – my partner makes his own whole wheat bread, but I buy white bread for myself.”
No one replied. Since that day, though, I’ve been noticing other examples of this around The Wallow, like Joshua hang-drying his clothes, which I don’t usually do.
Because we’re both adults.
And we’re different people.
Which is a good thing!
|Photo by Dottie Mae|
I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the last couple of weeks, because I’ve become very conscious of lights left on in rooms that no one’s in. I’ve been making a very concerted effort to turn off the lights when I leave the room and to turn off extraneous lights when I come across them. At The Wallow, the living room, kitchen, and dining room make up the whole first floor in a circle arrangement. These are the rooms that Joshua and I are in and out of most often, and it wouldn’t be uncommon for all the lights on the first floor to be on (4 light switches and a lamp).
With my new attention paid to the lights, something kind of comical sometimes happens: I’ll go to the living room, turning off the lights in the kitchen/dining room as I go. Joshua will go the kitchen to get something and turn the lights back on, then leave them on when he comes back to the living room. I’ll get up and go turn the lights off behind him.
In another family, maybe I would talk to Joshua about my goal of turning the lights off more. But, “if he isn’t on board with me then it’s a no.” Or maybe I could be pushy, and he could “resent me for being pushy” and I could “resent him for refusing to be pushed along.” Because that sounds like fun.
Instead, I keep in mind that if I want to do something in particular with the light switches, that’s my business, and it isn’t Joshua’s responsibility to change anything about himself or his actions in relation to my new actions.
All the bathroom cloth and eating choices and what to do with the lights aside, it’s important to me to do the things I want to do, without waiting for approval or agreement from others. It’s important to me that Joshua does the things he wants to do. It’s important to me to not try to push my will onto other people or make decisions for them.
And finally, it’s just plain important to remember that we’re two separate people.
Because we are.
And that is way more important than the position of the light switch.