Choice Theory saved my marriage

I have been a big fan of William Glasser, MD for several years. He is the creator of Choice Theory and he has written many books on this subject for over 50 years.

I went to an all day seminar with my late husband back some years ago in which Dr. Glasser talked about his latest book and educated his audience about Choice Theory.

I loved the concepts so much that I did another four-day training. Basically, Choice Theory says that the only person whose behavior I can control is my own. I realized that I had been trying to control my husband for a long time. Once I worked on letting go of controlling his behavior and focused on my own, things got better between us.

We were not in a bad way before, but I noticed he was much more relaxed when I wasn't doing those annoying things I was doing before (which were most of the Seven Deadly Habits of External Control: criticizing, blaming, nagging, complaining, threatening, punishing, and rewarding/bribing to control). I didn't get it perfect, but I kept working at it.

I teach Choice Theory and incorporate it into the work that I do. It's not Taken in Hand per se, however, I think Choice Theory fits in nicely with this way of living a marriage. It's actually very freeing to stop trying to fix someone else and take care of improving your own behavior. Believe me, I have enough work to do on myself without trying to mold someone else.

Lately I have been recommending The Surrendered Wife to my clients and to my friends. Laura Doyle doesn't realize this, but her book, in my opinion, is what I've come to call "Choice Theory for Women."

So many of the people I work with just cannot understand why they cannot fix their spouses. The idea is outside of their range of experience. So many of them are women, but not all of them! Many of them grew up with a dominant mother, who subsequently divorced their father and remarried repeatedly.

I cannot give enough praise to Dr. Glasser. He is my hero and I know I had a happy marriage because of embracing Choice Theory. I also believe that I will have a happy marriage with my beau because of what I have learned. Choice Theory, plus my letting go and deciding I want to live a Taken in Hand marriage, has been so freeing for me!


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Taking personal responsibility

Choice Theory teaches that each person has to take responsibility for his/her behavior. Time and again on this site I have seen this theme mentioned in the context of a Taken in Hand relationship. Just because a couple creates a Taken in Hand dynamic doesn't mean that the man is a dictator, or that the woman is a mindless doormat.

Both people still take responsibility for their roles, and for the success of the relationship within those roles. Choice Theory espouses this idea that we create our happiness (and our misery) with the choices we make in our relationships.

I have really enjoyed this site and I'm always looking for how the ideas fit into my belief system. I am responsible for the successful co-creation of my marriage. This doesn't mean that I get it perfect; that's not possible. I just keep working on it. We both do.

Dr. Glasser has a great book calleGetting Together and Staying Together. He writes in an easy style with great examples and the book is relatively short. I also love Patricia Allen's book Getting to "I Do". She, too, has some great ideas about personal responsibility. In fact, I tend to be attracted to these kinds of books, which I recommend to anyone who will listen!


Control and choice theory

I agree that strictly speaking one can control only one's own behavior. However it is quite possible to influence behavior of another person to such an extent that it looks like control. Many women here say that they experience some aspects of their relationships with their men as a situation when he controls her. As far as I understand this experience of being controlled is something they want; probably in some cases it is the main reason why these women opt for this style of relationships.

Is it so in your case? If yes, then how do you reconcile the theory stating that it is impossible to control the behavior of another person with the fact that your man does in some sense control your behavior? If you experience some interactions with him in the way many other taken in hand women do, in my opinion it's exactly the situation when one person controls the behavior of another person.

And if you don't have that experience of being controlled by your man in your relationship, then what do you mean when you say you are taken in hand?

Control or Leadership?

I agree with you that we can influence each other's behavior. I also agree that I can only control my own behavior. I had a very bad habit of micromanaging my late husband. I wasn't even aware of it! When I learned about Choice Theory, I became aware of those things I was doing to control him. Once aware, I was able to modify my behavior to control my tendency to try to control him.

I don't know that I want control in that sense from my husband (referring to my soon to be husband, here). I do want guidance and direction. I want to ask his opinion and follow his advice. That could be considered a form of control. I want to be able to let go of big decisions and trust him to take the lead and take care of things. This is my understanding of being Taken in Hand.

It does seem contradictory but it isn't. I think the way I reconcile Choice Theory with a Taken in Hand marriage is that I still must choose to control my own behavior. He also controls his behavior (that's about maturity, in my estimation). I see him as the Leader in our marriage, therefore, to some it may look like control, but it is control that we've both agreed we want in our relationship (welcome leadership as opposed to unwelcome dictatorship).

I know people have different ideas about what Taken in Hand means to them. I want my husband/beau to be my leader, my provider, and my protector. He wants this also. We have talked about Choice Theory and we do see that it fits well into our understanding of a Taken in Hand marriage. I ask for his advice and direction and I do what he recommends, even when I don't agree with his idea. Hey, I asked for guidance! I enjoy letting go of making the decisions. I trust his judgment. Is he "controlling" me? I suppose some would see it that way. I see it as gladly living under his leadership. It's freeing.

What I enjoy about being in a Taken in Hand relationship is that it bypasses arguments. I'm OK with him having the final say in the decisions. I like that he is decisive and he takes charge, even if I don't (necessarily) agree. It doesn't free me from personal responsibility, however. I feel very close to him when he takes the burden of a difficult decision off my shoulders. Perhaps it's a case of semantics, then. Control to some is leadership to others.