Just like a boundary exists between inhaling and exhaling, a boundary exists between how you give and how another receives. In every relationship, both people are givers and recipients. Theoretically, you give freely, gladly, open-heartedly, and expect nothing in return. Your partner receives freely simply saying “Thank you.” The connection remains strong (inhaling), and each person has room to be themselves or exhale. The relationship begins to go sideways when a giver expects something in return or the recipient feels obligated back to the giver. In either case, fairness’s obligation, leverage, and resentment begin to take hold of the relationship’s direction.
Fairness: The Problem
Obligation is the feeling of being required or duty-bound as the result of receiving from your partner. Obligated receiving can feel stiff and heavy and is the first step toward a relationship based on fairness. The thought process associated with obligation centers around what you have to do, should, ought, must, or need to do to balance the ledger with your partner to keep the relationship together. These mental messages result in mental, emotional, and relational exhaustion because you give yourself no room to exhale or be yourself in a relationship with your partner. The yoke of obligated receiving is hard, and the burden is heavy.
A giver may “give to get,” hoping to obligate the recipient. Still, the recipient doesn’t have to participate in this covert process. A recipient may say, Thank you and not receive the giver’s expectations or the obligation from the giver. At the same time, a giver may give freely, unreservedly, and without expecting anything in return. A recipient may feel obligated to the giver. Therefore, the recipient is responsible for obligated receiving. How a recipient receives is entirely up to the recipient.
Doesn’t Allow for Differences
Obligation and Leverage As the Method of Change
Resistance and Resentment
Feelings of resentment result from comparing all you do for your partner with how little your partner does for you. Feeling obligation and leveraged to do more, perform differently, or be different in some way, resentment builds that your partner doesn’t accept you for your sake. This demand for a change in your performance feels like the relationship is based on what you do “for” your partner or “shiny trinkets” rather than based on being present for each other regardless of your differences. These differences threaten the cohesion and connection you want and need in the relationship. After working hard to keep it together, you begin resenting that your best efforts result in helplessness, hopelessness, and despair. Resentment builds over time with a cumulative effect resulting in more self-protection and less empathy toward your partner. Reluctance to trust each other grows the more you resent your partner. Making your skin crawl is a way to describe an extreme form of resentment.
Resentment results in couple relationships from both people basing their relationship on what each believes is fair. The problem with this approach is that each person’s concept of what is fair is different. Comparing all you do with how little your partner doesn’t do doesn’t allow room for differences or disagreements. Personalizing your partner’s actions or inaction accelerates resentment.
Because you are doing more than your partner, you take it personally, believing your partner is mistreating you and you are the victim in the relationship.
Blaming your partner for not caring as much as you care reveals you are the standard for what you think your partner should be doing. As a point of reference, you may not realize it, but you don’t leave room for your partner to be their person either. Injustices resulting from your differences weaken and divide you rather than bring you together and strengthen you as a couple. Compromising yourself to keep the relationship together, you don’t know how to resolve these differences, and resentment grows. Why should you live in a dirty house because your husband is lazy? That’s not fair. Why should you change the oil in your car when you cook all the time? That’s not fair.
Embracing Freedom: Responsibility, Gratitude and Humility
A Different Relationship
The Relationship Hinge: How You Receive! explores the essential role of receiving in building and maintaining successful relationships. This comprehensive guide delves into the art of receiving, highlighting its impact on communication, emotional connection, and overall relationship satisfaction. By understanding and mastering the dynamics of receiving, readers gain valuable insights and practical strategies to enhance their interpersonal connections.
Have you ever wondered what the essential difference is between a healthy and unhealthy relationship? How would you tell? Is there a fork in the road that if you turn right you’re traveling down the healthy road and if you turn left you’re travelling down the unhealthy or dysfunctional road? Well, there is a fork in the road and you face this fork in every relationship and in every interaction you have.
In the moment you receive from another person you are invited to travel up or down, right or left, good or bad, right or wrong. How you receive anything from others is critical for having healthy or unhealthy relationships. How you receive determines future responses, whether you trust that person or not, the goal of the relationship, your personal maturity, and ultimately the success or failure of your relationship.
You can’t do anything about how a person gives. Your partner may give expecting something in return; may give initially freely, but then hold it against you when he or she doesn’t get some expected response; may give freely expecting nothing at all. You can receive freely and say, Thank you for responding in gratitude.
Feeling guilty, obligated, or indebted, immediately begins a trip down the dysfunctional road. Obligation over time feels heavy and leads to resentment. Trying to measure up and be good enough to fulfill an indebtedness to another person is exhausting because you can never get back to even, square, or zero. You live in a hole of guilt, and obligation and resent it. Constantly trying to measure up and be good enough to another’s standard eventually leaves you empty inside. Receiving a model of fairness results in obligation, resentment, entitlement, and eventually emptiness inside.
Conclusion: Celebrate Your Partner
This model is driven by fear that you won’t get what you want if you don’t hold your partner to what you expect in the relationship. The motivation is what the other person does or doesn’t do in return. Usually, your partner stops receiving anything from you because he or she doesn’t trust you are giving freely. Your partner would rather do without than have to deal with your reactions when you don’t get what you think you deserve. Ultimately, the relationship ends in polarization and self-protection from each other.
Feeling gratitude, thankfulness, and appreciation, begin the journey down the healthy road. Responsibility in response to the giver, rather than obligation leads to gratitude rather than resentment. Ultimately, rather than entitlement or building a case against your partner for all you’ve done for him or her trying to measure up or be good enough to your partner’s standard, humility brings you back to spending more time with your partner because you want to and are free to. Receiving a model of freedom results in responsibility, gratitude, humility, and eventually contentment. This model is led by trust that you will get what is in your best interest allowing your partner the freedom to love you as he or she will. Your motivation is not in your partner, but in your relationship with God to sustain you after you have given freely knowing your partner will never respond to you in your way or in your timing. Receiving this way opens the door for personal growth as both people trust each other. When reactions of entitlement or frustration occur they are met with understanding and forgiveness. Ultimately, the relationship expands to influence others to give freely and receive freely as well.