Personal Decisions

Making important personal decisions

Making decisions about your friends, professors, and family and making decisions about your career goals and selecting your major were all personal decisions, weren’t they?

Of course they were, but some decisions are far more intimate.These are more emotional decisions.

Decisions about Sex are often very personal

NOTE: What might be an intelligent choice in one culture is often unacceptable in another culture. Even in the same country, even among people of the same religion, a choice one person sees as intelligent, might seem totally unacceptable to others. This is true especially with questions about sex, abortion, and homosexuality. Please understand that I am an American writing from my own perspective.

In many cultures, sex before marriage is totally unacceptable. But in western society, values in this area have been changing over the years. While many students begin college with sexual experience, many others do not. Some hope to lose their virginity as soon as possible. Some plan to wait until marriage. And some aren’t sure what to do.

At home, your parents may have supervised your behavior closely. They may have sent you off with stern warnings about their expectations.  Now, however, it is pretty obvious that you need to make many decisions for yourself. Personal decisions about sexual experience, unwanted pregnancy, and sexual orientation can be extremely difficult and require serious consideration.

Decisions about sexual experience

When a couple begins to date regularly, they need to discuss sexual values and A young man holds a young blond woman in his arms, kissing her on her head. She looks concernedexpectations. Neither person should pressure the other for sex. if a couple cannot agree in this area, it is wise to break off the relationship and, if possible, remain friends.

Having a this conversation always seems very awkward, but when couples who do not discuss the topic calmly, then the woman, especially, may feel pressured into acting against her own values and may experience terrible guilt and anger.  Breaking off a relationship after ‘date-rape’ makes it nearly impossible to remain friends.

The young woman in the picture seems concerned, perhaps wondering what her boyfriend is thinking. She might  be ready to suggest that they need to talk. How will he react when she explains that she plans to wait until marriage before having sex. He seems so nice. She hopes he will understand. But she intends to stick to her beliefs.

They both need to start with their  values. What in your mind is really good or right and what is bad or wrong?

Next, you should consider all the alternatives. Your alternatives are not always limited to yes or no. Sometime there are other possible choices.

It is also important to consider the consequences of everyone involves. Don’t just think about the consequences for you. Think about your parents and family, your partner and his or her family, your future husband or wife…. and more.

If you aren’t sure what you should do, you should WAIT until you are absolutely certain.

Decisions about unwanted pregnancy

A young couple I will call Dick and Jane had been dating less than two months when Jane got pregnant. She had been brought up to believe that abortions were unacceptable, that they were, in fact, murder. The picture shows them nervously waiting for the results of the pregnancy test.

A young man and his girlfriend wait for the results of the pregnancy testDick had assumed that Jane used birth control pills like other girls he had dated. He was shocked to learn that Jane was pregnant. He thought an abortion was the best choice, but agreed that it was Jane’s choice. He had been planning to go to law school and was afraid this could destroy all his future plans. He saw these choices:

  1. Jane could have an abortion. He’d have to borrow money to pay for it, but then he would have no further responsibility and he could go to law school as planned.
  2. Jane could have the baby and give it up for adoption and he could go to law school. Hopefully, she had health insurance that would pay the hospital bills.
  3. Jane could have the baby and keep it. He could marry Jane, drop out of school and get a job. He really didn’t want to marry Jane or anyone else yet, but he knew his parents would urge him to do it.  After a couple years he and Jane could get a divorce if it didn’t work out.  That meant he’d have to pay alimony and child support. He might manage to go back to college and get his degree, but he’d probably have to forget about law school.
  4. He could refuse to marry Jane, stay in school and get a part-time job to pay child-support. Hopefully she’d marry someone else after a few years and he wouldn’t need to keep paying child support.

Jane saw the choices differently.

  1. She didn’t even want to think about abortions. She knew Dick wanted her to get an abortion, hoping the problem would just go away. But Dick had agreed that it was her choice.
  2. She did not want to marry Dick. She could picture sitting at home with a baby while he worked at a fast food restaurant to pay the bills. What kind of life was that? She knew he wanted to go to law school, and she wanted to become a teacher. She didn’t want either of them to give up on their dreams.
  3. She really hated to tell her parents. They would be so disappointed in her. But they would be more disappointed if she gave up the baby for adoption without consulting them. She would have to go home for the weekend and break the news. The longer she waited, the worse it would be. They might be willing to raise the baby until she was out of school and had a good job, or hopefully until she got married. Better yet, her older sister had a two-year old. She might be willing to raise another child for the next four or five years. Or, her parents might advise her to give up the baby for adoption. She wasn’t sure which was worse: having friends and family know she had a baby without being married, or spending the rest of her life wishing she had kept the baby.

What did they decide to do?  There are many Dick and Jane couples out there. They make many different choices, some that make them happy, some they regret the rest of their lives. The one thing this couple is doing well is laying out all the alternatives and considering the consequences of each possibility.

Returning to the question about becoming sexually active, it is important to realize that having sex sometimes leads to pregnancy and this leaves both of you with very painful choices.

What should you do when your values are no longer like your parent’s values?

It might be something fairly simple. Everyone else in you family is a conservative Republican. After many long discussions with friends, you have decided to be a Democrat. Do you keep it to yourself or tell your parents. They might not be happy, but it shouldn’t cause a crisis.

You know that many members of your family are racists, You are dating someone of another race and haven’t told your parents. Now you are thinking about getting married.

  1. Do you take him or her with you to meet your family and hope they’ll be polite, hope they’ll learn to like the person you hope to marry?
  2. Do you tell your family first? This could lead to them telling you never to come home again.
  3. Do the two of you elope or have a small wedding and then settle down in a distant state?

When I was young, this would have caused a major crisis in my family. In some families this is still true. For other families, this is no longer a major issue. How would your family react to this situation? How would they react if you wanted to marry someone of another religion?

There are never any easy answers or solutions to these problems. Some will tell the person they love that they cannot consider marriage because it would create so many problems. Some will get married and dismiss the feelings of their family, saying “That’s their problem.”

Others will try to find a compromise, letting parent know that you understand how difficult this is, and that you hope they can come to accept the person you love. If they don’t accept it at first, you may discover that when you have children, they will change their attitude so they can get to know and love their grandchildren.

The Most Difficult Personal Decisions : Discussing sexuality

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