Relationships involve two distinct people. Thus all relationships are a balancing act between multiple people’s desires and goals. When one person disagrees with a loved one or is dissatisfied with how things are going in their lives together, compromise is often needed. For a relationship to thrive, each individual within the relationship must be able to self-sacrifice for the growth of the couple.
Sacrifice is tricky, though. If you’re not careful, one person can easily give up too much for the other person, leading to resentment and anger. When couples facing this problem come in for Long Island couples therapy, early sessions often include lots of finger-pointing or blaming the other person for the problems in the relationship. This is ultimately unhelpful. If someone does nothing but throw out blame, they are distracting themselves from seeing what they can control to improve the relationship.
What Do Businesses Have In Common With Relationships?
A helpful way I illustrate to couples the imbalance that can sometimes occur in relationships is by comparing it to a business. The goal of any business is to earn a profit by trading an item or service for an amount of money that the business finds equivalent to trade. Both entities are looking to gain through this transaction. The individual is sacrificing money to gain an item. The business is sacrificing the item to gain money.
The main objective of people in a relationship that isn’t professional – one between a friend, family member, or romantic partner – is not to sell or buy things to or from each other, of course. However, they still participate in “transactions” all the time – just not using money.
Instead, this kind of transaction is a demonstration of love and affection. Some examples include doing a household chore you know the other person hates doing, giving gifts, complimenting the other person, or spending time and talk with the other person. They make these sacrifices because there is an assumption that they will gain in the future.
Even though the relationship isn’t based on the exchange of money, people still have an expectation of getting something out of it that is equivalent (or better), whether it’s love, affection, gifts, or an emotional payment (such as seeing the other person happy and feeling good about it).
Is Your Relationship A Balanced One?
The best way to get the best out of a relationship is to give to it. Or, rather, to the other person in the relationship with you. If you feel neglected by the other person, you should have a discussion with them about it, but it’s also important to avoid blaming them entirely for your negative feelings.
A relationship is unlikely to succeed if one person is giving much more to the other person and the relationship as a whole, because the situation results in feelings of frustration and lowered motivation to give back to each other. As is true in many circumstances in life: when it comes to relationships, what you give is what you get.