Every day we make choices that impact our lives in long and short term ways. Sometimes these choices are easy and we react without thinking twice. Other times we are forced to think hard about the consequences of making an important choice, especially when others are involved. But what happens when we know what the “right” choice is but also know it will destroy us?
I was sitting in the backseat of my dad’s car on the way home with takeout from one of our favorite restaurants. My mom was in the passenger's seat and requested we have a great dinner since she received the first dose of her COVID-19 vaccine just hours before. I looked down at my phone to see a text message from my boyfriend saying he needed me to call him when I got home because he needed to talk about something with me. Immediately my heart sank and somehow I knew exactly what he was going to say. The 20 minutes between that text and the second I walked in the door felt like hours.
I know what you're thinking and believe me, I was there too. Sure, it crossed my mind that it could potentially be something about our relationship, but I knew it was something I had been dreading for weeks.
My boyfriend is a member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard. It’s no secret that military spouses/significant others endure plenty of fear and sadness when a deployment is in question. We know they need to go, but all we really want is them to stay here with us. In this particular situation, we had been warned about a potential one or two month deployment to Washington D.C. in order to protect the Vice President’s home. The time of the deployment wasn’t long compared to most deployments, but it was still the first time we would be apart since we have been together.
Now, you’re probably wondering why this situation would be a choice for me to make. After all, he is the one who has to go and potentially be in harm's way, not me. However, he called and asked me what he should do. If he decided he wanted to go, he would have to make the decision within an hour and leave for the trip in 12 hours. The semester had just started and he had just settled into having some time off from his military duties. But I still told him to go. The opportunity would be amazing for him and I knew he wanted to go. Regardless of how difficult it would be for me to not express how sad I would be I knew it was the right thing to do. But is that really the selfless thing to do?
When I told him to go, he told me it wasn’t fair for me to tell him not to worry about me because I would be fine. He said he wouldn’t be fine just leaving me with 12 hours of notice. (Most deployments are given several months or even a year in advance.) So, I made the decision I thought he would want me to make even though it wasn’t what I wanted. That decision turned out to be what he said he didn’t want even though he probably did want to go. Is there even a right choice?
As it turns out, in situations such as this one, a moral dilemma can actually have no right answer. Someone is going to be unhappy either way; sometimes even all parties involved will be displeased. I believe that instead of dancing around the decision you think the other person wants to hear, you should be honest. Speak the reasons you have for making either choice and weigh your options together. In any situation where you cannot see a clear answer, don’t make the choice right away just because you think it is the “right” thing to do. Find out what you are both thinking before you make up your mind. You might think you are doing the “right” thing, but you actually need to do what is truly right and tell the truth.