Giving Within the Marriage
- It’s important to take stock to ensure that you’re giving enough for the marriage and that you are also giving for the right reasons.
- Giving without expectation, means you can give your partner without the expectation that he’ll return the favor.
- People who don’t give enough often worry that if they don’t spend all their time and energy focusing on themselves, their needs won’t get taken care of.
- Try going somewhere with your partner when you don’t want to go and be willing to do things you might not be excited to do. E.g., watch that romantic comedy at the theatre — yes, the one where she fawns over Zac Efron half-naked body…
Finding a balance of give and take is important in a marriage. Sometimes people give too much and grow resentful. Other times, people take too much, causing their partners to grow weary. It’s important to take stock to ensure that you’re giving enough for the marriage and that you are also giving for the right reasons.
Giving without expectation, means you can give your partner without the expectation that he’ll return the favor. Marriage isn’t meant to be a competition so you shouldn’t need to keep score. Instead, marriage is about giving when you can, knowing that there times you are able to give more and times when you can give less. Also, there will be times when you may need to take more. Healthy marriages recognize this up and down and both partners trust that their partner will be there for them when they need it.
Giving doesn’t mean you need to become a martyr. There’s no need to give up all your hobbies, spare time, hopes, and dreams for the sake of marriage. Instead, it means you might give up some things, but not the essence of who you are.
Giving too much can make people grow resentful. When people feel like they don’t have anything left for themselves, they often grow resentful and angry. It isn’t healthy and eventually they become tired of giving.
Other times people give for selfish reasons. People who feel unworthy or have low self-esteem may constantly give to their partner. Their giving isn’t out of their desire to make their partner feel good, but instead, is out of fear. They worry that if they don’t give enough, their partner will leave them. They feel a short-lived sense of accomplishment and self-worth when they do something for others. However, this feeling subsides and they tend to have to give again in order to feel okay.
People who don’t give enough often worry that if they don’t spend all their time and energy focusing on themselves, their needs won’t get taken care of. Their desire to be independent may exclude them from finding opportunities to look out for their partner. This can be caused by several different reasons. For some people, they may just be independent by nature. Others may have encountered past hurts. They may be afraid to let down their guard and let someone else do something nice for them.
Giving doesn’t mean material possessions only. Giving may mean that you offer up your time, energy, and skills to your spouse as well. This may mean a backrub, special dinner, or helping to teach your partner a new skill. It may also mean you go somewhere with your partner when you don’t want to go and you are willing to do things you might not be excited to do. Consider making a list of things that your partner could do for you. Encourage your partner to do the same. Include things that would be special to you. This may include a few household responsibilities that your partner could assist you with or it may include nice gestures that make you happy. It may also include things you want your partner to do with you. Exchange lists and work on doing at least one thing on your partner’s list each week.
Giving to your spouse can help the two of you stay emotionally connected. Giving and receiving can help elicit romantic feelings and to help you to grow your relationship. Talk openly about your desire to give in order to make sure you know what your partner enjoys. Also, be willing to be open with your spouse about what you would enjoy receiving.
This article was written by Amy Morin, LCSW, and appears as an original post at The Marriage Counseling Blog.