Are you a giver or a taker in relationships? (Go ahead and decide your answer, I will wait….)
Got it? Great!
Now, for the next question. Which one SHOULD you be?
That was actually a trick question. Sorry to do that to you, but stay with me here.
The correct answer is: neither one.
You should be GIVING and TAKING. Think of it as a bank account. You put things in there on a regular basis, then you take things out when you need them. Because you are always adding to what’s in the account, there will always be something in there and the account will never be empty. Relationships work on the same basic principle.
I know this is a very simplistic way of looking at it, but it sort of pares it all down and makes it very clear at the same time.
Every relationship should have a combination of give and take ON BOTH SIDES of the relationship. When one person does most of the giving and the other person does most of the taking, it is a recipe for disaster. This type of situation usually leads to resentment because one person is not getting their emotional needs met (and possibly other needs as well).
No person wants to feel unappreciated or taken advantage of, but that’s what a constant giver feels like. (If you are a constant giver, then you know what I mean.)
We all become accustomed to behavior patterns that we establish in our relationships, whether they are healthy or not. (He always does this, so she always does that.)
In essence, you are both responsible for the way things work in your relationship. It doesn’t matter if you are the dominate person or if your partner is the dominate one.
Let me give you a personal example. After our children were born, my life became wrapped up in the kids and our family life. It seemed like every minute of every day consisted of taking care of kids, cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry. As they got older I added chauffeur to my resume. It didn’t help that during this time we were adding on to our house and remodeling two other homes. I felt so stretched that I literally couldn’t function anymore.
But here’s the thing. The kids didn’t mean to take up my life. They didn’t even realize they were doing it. When my husband put so many duties on me that were related to construction and remodeling, he didn’t realize it was more than I could handle. He didn’t realize so much was being taken from me. For my part, I continued to do more than I was capable of, and I didn’t put my foot down. I allowed the situation to manifest and continue without change for a long time.
So here is how I finally handled my situation and got everything back in balance:
1) I talked to my husband about my issues and how I was feeling.
2) I set some boundaries on my time and energy.
3) I reevaluated things I was doing for the kids and decided some were not necessary and didn’t really enhance their lives. I found better ways to use my time and energy to benefit them the most.
4) I started making sure that my husband and I got our date nights on a regular basis.
5) I established a monthly girls’ night out with my friends.
6) I helped my husband understand that I needed some time alone to work without interruption (mostly on this site).
7) I stopped pushing things aside that were important to me.
Number 7 really sums up the whole thing. I remembered that I needed a life too. I was constantly putting things in (family life), but I was never taking anything out for myself.
Suddenly, it was clear what I needed to do. For example, I started shopping for myself again. And I understood that did not make me a bad mom. I started making plans to do things that I enjoyed (like before we had kids). And you know what? Our whole family is happier for it. I am a better wife and mother. And now my husband realizes how much he was taking and demanding of me. It was never his intention.
Now, let’s look at you. It might be good to sit down and make a list of ways that you give and ways that you take. Maybe your partner could do this as well, then you can compare lists. You can learn amazing things about each other when you do this. Two people can live under the same roof but still not see things in the same light.
If You Are the Giver…..
It is imperative that you get a balance that is more equal because your relationship can only be healthy if you do. In my case I had an innocent husband and kids who didn’t mean to take so much and suck me dry. However, there are situations where the other person is aware of what they are taking and do it on purpose because they can.
This is a more serious situation and is beyond the scope of this article. I would suggest counseling to help put things into perspective for both of you if you are in this situation. Many churches and employers offer this service for free
However, the majority of people will be able to establish a healthy balance by talking to their partner and setting boundaries as I did. Sit down with your partner and tell them exactly what you need to feel like your relationship is more balanced. “I need you to spend more time with me,” is a good thing to point out, but it would be better to say,”I would like it if you could set aside every Wednesday night to spend with me.” Don’t be afraid to get specific about what you need. You will get better results if you offer up your expectations.
If You Are the Taker…….
If you take stock and find that you are the taker in your relationship, first understand it does not automatically make you a bad guy. This is just one part of your relationship and it can be changed at your will.
Also, you may have been playing off cues from your partner and not realizing that you were stepping over the line and tipping the balance of your relationship. Like I said before, we all get accustomed to familiar patterns in our relationships and repeat them without even thinking them through.
For example, if your partner says, “I don’t mind fixing dinner,” then you may agree to that every night. But they might now want to fix dinner every night and they may either do it because they think you won’t (or they might be attempting to get an offer from you).
Being aware of the problem is half the solution. Now, the best course of action would be to sit down with your partner and ask them to list specific ways that you can “give” to their happiness and the relationship in general.
This book will help whether you are a giver or a taker (or somewhere in between):
Remember, anything can be changed when you really want to change it.
by Angela Christian Pope @ ModernRelationship.org.