Giving and taking is an age-old balance. When that balance is not in sync, discord can happen in any relationship. Here Austin-based Resonance Repatterning Practitioner, Mary Schneider shares insight on how you can create greater personal growth with more balance
GIVE AND TAKE
In any type of system, whether in your family or your workplace, there is always some kind of exchange. People give and take, and as long as this transaction continues the relationship is present. At work, the exchange is simple: people put their hours in and they are remunerated with a paycheck. Yet in personal relationships, the basic guidelines of exchange may not be so clear; in fact, in my practice I have observed many people are unaware of them altogether.
Generally there are two types of people in these transactions – those who give and those who take. It is a rare situation where this is in balance. Much of the time, people who give have no sense of when to stop giving. Those who take do not know when to stop taking. In either case, neither one is better than the other. Oftentimes we prefer to give more because it makes us looks or feel better, but this is simply a misunderstanding.
Visualize, for example, a friend who invites you out for dinner. Then let us say that you show up at the appointed time and the friend never appears. Naturally we would have a concern for their safety. We attribute the missed meeting as a thoughtless oversight, so our reaction is to just let it go. However, unconditional forgiveness may be a recipe for building resentment, especially if we are unable express our feelings. We may end up annoyed, angry or feeling passive aggressive, and it is we who must suffer those negative feelings.
Resentment is similar to anger except that where anger is fiery like a flame, resentment is like the smoke that smolders underneath, in the manner of a stealth bomber creating disharmony. Who would want to be around all that smoke? The best solution in this case is to balance the situation. To resolve it, the next time the thoughtless friend calls, you don’t have to take the call. Creating personal space for yourself is a reasonable component of self-care. Otherwise, you can go ahead and set a make-up dinner date – but tell your companion that you felt hurt when you got stood up last time, yet you’re nevertheless looking forward to sharing time with your friend. In any case, it’s up to you to ascertain when to set a boundary and when not to; this is the key to becoming more confident and secure in the world.
Another scenario occurs where the takers are never given a chance to give. As a result, they can never achieve balance and the situation is always uncomfortable. This gets murky in intimate relationships where one of the partners always gives and the other is forced to always take. Sometimes the giver does so in order to feel superior while the taker is forced to stay in the inferior role. What is commonly thought is that the giver is the stronger one in the relationship and the taker does not get the opportunity to experience this. This is also a recipe for resentment.
In a balanced situation, both people give and both take. Sometimes one feels vulnerable and sometimes the other does. Sometimes one partner yields and is guided, and sometimes the other does. When this happens, people feel safe and have a tendency to give more. As each partner gives more and takes more, the balance increases and so does the intimacy.
This is particularly helpful when we hurt one another. When we hurt our partner, we feel guilty. Again, this is an unbalanced situation.
One case study from a therapist is about a husband who had an affair and the couple was in therapy to determine how to handle the divorce. In the course of the therapy, they determined that they still loved one another and wanted to stay married. The husband had little hope of being able to make this up to his wife. And, this therapist had the best solution yet. The husband had to come home from work every day for a year, get on his knees and beg the wife’s forgiveness. Although this sounds extreme, over the course of that year he made his way out of the doghouse permanently and back on the same level as his spouse.
How is balance regained? Should the one who was hurt, hurt back? Or, should the hurt one just forgive? Both of these are a recipe for resentment again. The best solution is one that is reached by two-way, honest, sincere communication. Perhaps the one who hurt does something for the other like taking them to dinner or getting them a massage. What’s essential is not just the actions, but for both partners to empathize with each other and truly understand their counterpart’s feelings. Whatever can make the situation better, and even the balance.
How can we make sure that our relationships are sources of joy and comfort as opposed to disharmony and inequality? Just having a basic awareness of these kinds of interactions is helpful and can lead to hope and increased intimacy. Even if we are not in the midst of a crisis, being aware of these interpersonal dynamics can keep us sailing the peaceful seas of our relationships.