We should every night call ourselves to an account; What infirmity have I mastered today? What passions opposed? What temptation resisted? What virtue acquired? Our vices will abort of themselves if they be brought every day to the shrift.
Self Discipline means the ability to discipline oneself. Why do humans need self-discipline?
Usually in order to achieve a long term goal and long-term happiness. The discipline is in the act of delaying instant gratification for long term pleasure.
Because people with self-discipline often are denying themselves instant gratification/short term pleasure, they may expect others to do the same. They are overcoming the natural human and animal tendency to take the path of least resistance, to do the difficult but worthwhile thing.
Thus when the partner of a disciplined person makes personal requests or has personal demands, this may interfere with the disciplined person (DP’s) organized approach to delayed gratification.
The romantic partner may request or require attention, gratification, time, energy that dont fit in with the paradigm of long term planning.
Example: The self disciplined person may take a more ‘planning approach’ to vacation and tourism–demanding the most value for their travel dollar, they may opt for less expensive travel and hotel arrangements, may insist on a more disciplined travel schedule in which they see certain key tourist sites in pre-arranged times that fit in with their tightly scheduled plans.
However, they may be in love with a partner who has a more free-wheeling, seat-of-the-pants, whimsical attitude towards travel, going more with spur of the moment wishes.
The free wheeling romantic partner may view the self-disciplined partner as uptight, overly controlling, and lacking in spontaneity.
Sometimes the self-disciplined person may become too ‘attached’ to their methods and may become rigid in their adherence to schedules, budgeting and planning.
There is the possibility for some ‘self-disciplined’ folks that they may in fact be scared or anxious about ‘going with the flow’ or letting go of plans. They may fear that if they let down their guard and do ‘what feels good right now’ that they may never get back on track.
For example, the Self-disciplined Person (SDP) may be very careful and thoughtful about caloric intake and proper diet. They may very much want that decadent chocolate cake their partner has placed in the refrigerator. However, they may also fear that once they indulge, they may not be able to stop. This fear that ‘letting the genie out of the bottle, I may never be able to get him back in’ is what causes friction between the SDP and the non SDP.
The SDP may also see their romantic partner as deficient because they put less effort into self-discipline and thus may not be as organized, as healthy, as fit, as financially prudent as the SDP.
The non SDP partner may also demand that the SDP drop some of their well-thought out plans in order to be spontaneous, to live for the moment, to experience joie de vivre. While life goes on however, the SDP is making other plans.
The SDP craves the structure and gains the satisfaction from seeing plans come to fruition. They achieve long term goals by denying themselves comfort and rest. They enjoy long term savings and deny themselves frivolous expenditures.
They work hard on their physical fitness and forego rest and relaxation.
If they fall in love with a partner too dissimilar, they may find themselves mentally condemning their partner for their spendthrift ways, for eating rich, fattening foods, for taking it easy when they could be working on self-improvement.
So there’s two ways to go. Compromise and Acceptance, or Demanding Adherence and possible Rejection of the romantic partner.
The SDP can try to teach their romantic partner the joys of long term planning and self denial. But they can also teach themselves to accept the possibility that their partner will never be as disciplined. That in fact, the SDP may have to spend a great deal of time and energy convincing their partner to plan better to avoid financial ruin, to eat better to avoid physical deterioration. And that the SDP will need to, at times, let go of all the rules and simply allow for more spontaneity in the relationship, and allow their well-laid plans to, at times, be scuttled.
Of course if two SDP’s get together, they may have a grand old time, perhaps even enjoying competing with one another to see who can be more disciplined. They can, in effect, ‘gamify’ their self-discipline. Who is keeping better to their diet plan? Who saved more money this week? Who found the more efficient travel plan?
But fair warning, while the two SDP’s may in fact, work together like a well-oiled machine, they may also wonder what it would be like to step out of the schedule, to splurge on a non-necessity, or to do something wild and crazy just for the fun of it.
Because at the end of the day, they might find it helpful to build into their schedule the time and freedom to act without concern for the future or their productivity.
©2019 Ross Grossman, MA, LMFT
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