You’ve heard that marriage is 50-50. Actually, marriage is more like 110-110. Both partners in a relationship have to give much more than ‘mediocre’ to achieve a reasonably healthy relationship. Either partner will have down times, times when he is only able to give about 50%. In a healthy relationship, the other partner fills in the extra. But that works both ways. One partner shouldn’t always be the one giving extra and getting less. If one partner is giving the majority of positive into the relationship, while the other coasts along and regularly brings the relationship down, that is unhealthy. It’s what we call a dysfunctional relationship. Marriage works with give and take, not givers and takers.
If you are consistently putting more good into a relationship than you are getting out of it, you are giving too much. It’s unhealthy to live in a constant state of giving without receiving. You cannot pour from an empty cup. Sooner or later your well of love will dry up. And worse still, you will begin to see yourself as less than acceptable. Your self-esteem and entire sense of self will be damaged by allowing yourself to give positive and receive negative. You will begin to think that negative is all you deserve. And the taker in your life will happily allow you to feel that way.
The taker in a relationship may not be a monster. But he is lazy. He wants the perks without the work. You have made a nice, cozy nest for him to indulge his self-centered whims. He doesn’t feel well? He pouts and whines and scolds you. You don’t feel well? He pities himself because you aren’t as available or willing to pamper him. And with your damaged self-esteem, with you blaming yourself and tolerating his crap, he now has an excuse to give crap. That’s what takers are after, an excuse to comfort themselves with when they feel lazy and selfish. The majority of takers have some sense of conscience. They just don’t want to listen to it.
Does any of this sound familiar? I’d like to say to you ‘get out of that relationship before it’s too late’. But that is easier said than done for most of us. And may be possible to heal the relationship. I will say that it’s never too late to begin standing up for yourself, to set boundaries, to stop enabling toxic behavior. I wish I had a magic wand to make it better. I don’t. But I can offer solutions like Al-Anon or another 12-step program. I can recommend online support groups like Daily Strength. My blogs linked to this article may be of help, too.