Love and relationships come with a great deal of responsibility. A big part of this responsibility is to act lovingly and compassionately, even when such acts of emotional generosity feel too challenging (for whatever reason). Of course there will be days when we cannot get out of our own way, when our own heightened sense of “But what about me?” prevents us from seeing beyond our own frustrations, emotional pain, sense of entitlement, wants and desires…
But is the inability (or unwillingness) to give of yourself to your spouse/partner becoming the norm in your marriage/relationship?
To get a better sense of how much you give to your spouse/partner, I’d like you to reflect on the following series of questions listed below (not all questions will be relevant to your relationship circumstances, but some definitely will be).
When was the last time you…
…put the kids to bed because your partner had a rough day?
…gave your spouse/partner a massage without expecting anything in return?
…took care of dinner (from start to finish)?
…learned more about something that interests her/him?
…wrote a note/email/text of appreciation without any prodding?
…let your partner sleep in while you took care of the kids?
…emptied the dishwasher when it wasn’t your turn?
…told your spouse a joke?
…put your anger aside to listen to your partner’s perspective?
…acted as a cheerleader for something that is important to your partner?
…sincerely apologized (for something you did that hurt him/her)?
…asked your mate what s/he needs from you?
…followed through on a promise?
…held your partner’s hand (at home or in public)?
…told your spouse/partner what you love and admire about him/her?
…surprised him/her in some way?
It can be helpful to share these (and other similar) questions with your partner to help increase the mutual awareness about the importance of giving—ideally this can lead to a discussion of the different ways in which you both currently give to one another and the ways in which you might increase mutual giving.
After all, isn’t a loving marriage/relationship about giving to the other?
Dr. Rich Nicastro