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?
There is such a fork in the road. It is in the moment you receive from another person. How you receive anything from others is critical for having healthy or unhealthy relationships. How you receive determines your responses, whether you trust that person or not and it determines your personal maturity.
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 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, obligation and resent it. Constantly trying to measure up and be good enough to another’s standard eventually leaves you empty inside. Receiving from a model of fairness, results in obligation, resentment, entitlement and eventually emptiness inside.
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, begins 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 spend more time with your partner because you want to and are free to. Receiving from 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.