For many years Julie had used guilt and intimidation to control every thought, word, and behavior of her husband, Don. This is hardly an accusation since she was doing only what she had been taught all her life by her parents and others. Regrettably, however, the principles she and Don learned had created a relationship where he was a prisoner and she a warden. Neither job is fulfilling.
I taught them the Law of Choice, and they began to understand that in a healthy relationship both people must make their own choices. A light bulb went off in Don's head as he said, "So you're saying that I get to do whatever I want?"
"Yes," I said, "you really do."
He looked like a kid in a candy store. As Julie stopped controlling Don, and he made his own decisions, their relationship began to improve dramatically. After a few weeks, however, Julie called and said, "I think Don is abusing this freedom to make choices. Now he does whatever he wants, and he doesn't think at all about what I want—or what anybody else wants either."
When I talked to Don it was apparent that he really had become quite selfish, and when I pointed that out, he was defensive about it: "But you said I could do anything I wanted."
"Oh, you can," I said, "but you forgot the rest of it. You also have to pay the price for the choices you make."
"What do you mean?"
"If you go to the store, can you pick out anything you want to buy?"
"In the same way that you can make any choice in life. But after you've chosen an item in the store, can you choose how much you want to pay for it?"
"No, you have to pay the sticker price."
"Exactly. You can make any choice you want, but then you have to pay the price attached to it—not the price you want."
"But you don't believe that's true when it comes to your relationships, including the one with Julie."
"I don't understand."
"You really can make any choice you want with her, but then you believe that if you choose selfishly, you can still have a loving relationship with her. But that's not true. If you're selfish, you will be less loving and less happy yourself, Julie will feel less cared for, and your relationship will be injured. Those are the prices you pay for selfishness, and there's no way around that."
We've all heard and understood the expression, "You get what you pay for," but we're not nearly as quick to understand that we pay for whatever we get. If we do understand and remember, we'll tend to make wiser and happier choices.
Pay the price to find genuine happiness now and forever.
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