The Choice We Make
People have freedom of choice - it's a God-given right. Most of us understand that with rights come resposibilities. We have to own up to whatever consequences our decisions result in. Why do some people blame others for their poor choices in life?
Real Life Case Studies
We, as human beings, are born as creatures of reason and creatures of free will. As such, we are able to make choices in every aspect of our lives. We make the decisions knowing that every choice and action has a consequence be it good or bad. Why is it then that some people absolutely refuse to be held accountable for the decisions they make? Why do they blame others for the negative consequences that result from their own poor choices?
The following examples are from real-life situations. I am absolutely dumbfounded by the sheer stupidity involved in some of these cases but, as a wise man once said, “It is what it is.”
Case 1 - The Cheating Husband
This is the story of a man who was married for 22 years to a beautiful, smart and loving woman. He was prone to late-night card games (or so he said) on the weekends. It didn’t take long for these card games to start spilling over into the weekdays as well. Not surprisingly, it turned out that the man was having an affair. The wife, of course, was angry and hurt. But with his apology and promise to end it and do right by his wife, she forgave him. Over the years, he strayed a few more times (that the wife knew of). Only he and God know how many times for sure. Needless to say the wife, fed up and unwilling to stick it out even a moment longer, packed her things and moved out, leaving him with the house and charge of their 17 year old son. She is filing for divorce. The husband blames his wife for breaking up the family.
Case 2 – The Shopaholic
Some women love to shop, others LIVE to shop. The latter is the case for an acquaintance of mine. She is in some high end department store every weekend getting a new outfit (or three) or a new pair of $300 shoes. She and her husband typically share household expenses; they split the mortgage and utility bills, take turns buying groceries, etc. Well, she recently had to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy to the tune of nearly $40,000 due to her tremendous credit card debt. The court will garnish her wages for the next 3 years to pay off the settlement amount. She is angry with her husband because he will not let her off the hook for her half of the mortgage payment, although he has taken on the utility bills in total to give her a little relief. And guess what? She’s still shopping!!!
Case 3 - Mother Knows Best
The story in Case 2 would not be complete unless I tell you a little more about the husband. Prior to dating and marrying the shopaholic, the husband was dating a very nice woman. She’s divorced, the mother of two adorable little girls. She’s pretty, a great mom and obviously great at managing money since she owns a home and is raising her two girls with little or no help from their father. One thing though; she’s a plus sized woman, which didn’t sit too well with this man’s mother who, herself, is probably a size 16 or 18 (go figure). The mother convinced the man that he should have a “little” woman. He needed someone thin and “cute” who knows how to keep her figure and knows how to dress well; a trophy wife, so to speak. Well, he’s got one and she’s burning up the malls and his patience. But who is really to blame? He knew she was a diva from the start.
Case 4 – Falling Off the Wagon
This last story chronicles the life of an alcoholic. His wife stuck by him through many DUI arrests, mounting legal fees, loss of his driver’s license, loss of his job, embarrassment for herself and her children when he arrived home drunk while they were entertaining friends. Worse yet was trying to come up with an explanation for when she and the children awoke in the morning to find he hadn’t been home at all. As the children got older, they began to understand what was going on. They saw their mother hurting, sad and angry and knew their father was the cause. By the time they were teens, they had lost all respect for the man. The man blamed his wife, saying that obviously she had spoken ill of him in the children’s presence.
About 4 years ago, the man was picked up again for drunk driving. He had to serve a 10 day jail sentence through which he was miserable and pathetic. He called his wife several times a day (collect) to complain. She responded that it was jail and it wasn’t supposed to be pleasant. The man, soon after, admitted he had a problem and earnestly sought to get help. He began to attend church with his wife and things were improving. The biggest problem now was that the man resented that his wife had developed outside interests over the years that kept her away from home a few evenings a week. I’m guessing he expected that she had sat around the house twiddling her thumbs while he frequented the local bars each night for the previous 18 years. She encouraged him to buddy up with some of the men from the church; go fishing or bowling, play cards on those days when she was busy. She suggested he try to find an interest that he loved as much as she loved the things she had been involved in over the years. No. The man insisted on retaining the group of friends he’d always hung out with, the friends who sat in front of the TV drinking during every football game, basketball game, baseball game and hockey game. That was his choice.
Still, he managed to stay sober for 4 years or at least his drinking managed to go undetected for 4 years. I’m not sure which it is. But recently, he came home drunk two nights out of three. His wife told him, in no uncertain terms, that if he decided to go down that road again, he was going alone. She told him that if he valued their marriage, he would choose wisely. Every time he chose to drink he was, in effect, NOT choosing his marriage and his family. He apologized profusely and promised to “straighten up”. A few weeks later, he came home drunk again. His wife asked, “Do you value this marriage?” He answered that yes, he did. She asked him how he could come home drunk if he did indeed value the marriage. Do you know what his answer was? That he doesn’t know why he got drunk. (I know why… Because he CHOSE to). He said that she’s not with him all the time and he needs something to do to pass the time when she’s away. WHAT??? Is she now a babysitter? He knows that drinking is virtual suicide, but his wife is supposed to stop her life to sit by and make sure he doesn’t pull the trigger? Is she now to be afraid to leave the house for fear he will go to his friends’ homes to drink?
Does he not have a choice in all this? Is he not responsible for his own actions? Was he not presented with some viable alternatives to hanging out with his drinking buddies? And wasn’t he given a pretty strong motivation not to drink; being told that his marriage and family were at stake? How can he resent his wife for having a life because he never wanted more to his own life than working and coming home to have a few drinks in front of the TV? Is she to blame for his failure to make new (non-drinking) friends? Does she force him to get in the car to drive to where his drinking buddies hang out? Does she drive him to the liquor store and force him to buy a bottle? Maybe she holds a gun to his head and makes him pour one drink after another. I’m still scratching my head as to how this all turns out to be her fault…
It all boils down to choice. As free-thinking adults, we always have a choice. We also can usually predict the outcome of our choices. With the exception of those suffering from mental illness, we also have the ability to think rationally and exercise self-control. Why some people cannot seem to take responsibility for their actions or they refuse to be held accountable remains a mystery to me.