Give and take should always be in balance. This balance is upset when the giving is too much / too little or when the taking is too much / too little.
However the balance is a different one when it is about children and parents or about a romantic or adult relationship.
Parents and children
Between parents and children there will always be an imbalance as parents give something to their children that they can never give back – and that is life.
So the parents give and the children take. Parents give to their children what they can and children take what is given to them – if it is little or much. All parents – regardless whether judged “good” or “bad” by their children – have given them the greatest gift of all – which is life.
Only when we can really acknowledge our roots, our parents and our upbringing we can really grow up and become mature adult human beings. This does not mean that we accept abuses and pain that have been done to us in the past. It is more an inner acceptance of the live that we have been given through our parents.
Whether we like it or not – a child is always “the little one” while parents are “the big ones”. In relation to our parents we must behave as respectful children – and respectful here means that we must trust them to handle their adult problems on their own and not be so presumptuous to think we are able to take these upon ourselves or to solve their problems.
Children always want their parents to be happy and out of a profound (often uncon-scious) love for their parents they try to help them to make their lives easier putting themselves in the “wrong” place and infringing the orders of love. They invert the positions child/parent, play the role of “heads of a family system” and almost always this will cause certain difficulties in their adult lives.
Children are 50% father and 50% mother. This is where we come from – if we like it or not. Now imagine what happens when you reject one of your parents – yes, you reject that part inside of you. It will not change anything that happened in the past – a past that you still carry along.
This does not mean that we have to have personal contact with our parents which sometimes is impossible because of things that happened or because they don’t live anymore. But in our hearts we can give them a place and agree to what has been and accept fully the life that they have given us.
The imbalance in this relationship will be solved or when we give life to our children, to the next generation or, in case we do not have children, if we take our life fully with all that it entails and live our talents and gifts that we have been handed over from previous generations.
Romantic / Adult Relationships
One day children grow up, become adults and start relationships of their own.
A harmonic relationship inquires a balance of give and take between the partners. This exchange of giving and receiving happens at all levels – material, sexual, emotional, mental, spiritual — and is the sustaining force that maintains the relationship, deepening the commitment of both. The more they give and receive from each other, the stronger the bond will be between them. We could say relationships are reciprocal.
This all is very easy in the first stage when we still are in “seventh heaven”. If we love someone we give, the beloved gives back a little more, we in our turn give a little more and everyone’s happiness goes up and up. This is how a romantic relationship usually begins.
But at a certain point we realize that the partner is not the prince or the princess we had imagined and hoped for. Especially when we have not processed and healed our relationship with our parents most likely we will encounter a partner who will be the perfect one to help us finally heal these childhood wounds. But we don’t understand that.
Our partners (as we do) bring into the relationship whatever wound or burden they carry from their family of origin. They also come with their unresolved issues regarding their own parents. So it is clear that the parent-child relationship will have a strong impact on the man-woman relationship.
In moments of misunderstandings, where things may happen that hurt us and make us angry, we are too often drawn to return the pain and the anger running the risk of entering into a descending spiral of increasing suffering. If, however, we understand what is going on, we may give back just a little less pain and thus return to an ascending spiral that can lead us back to understanding and harmony.
Another issue is when we give too much. We do this mostly out of a wish of being loved and included. When we do not get back what we expected, we feel unloved and excluded. In this case we are tempted to continue to give and give hoping that finally the other one will recognize and love us. But what happens is that the gap between the two partners grows and grows and finally the relationship has to break up (and this breaking up doesn’t have to be physical but can be also an internal separation and alienation).
This gap is very much like the gap between parents and children. And as children one day leave the relationship with their parents, usually the partner who has “taken” more is the one to leave the relationship. Of course the other one who has given so much and sometimes made big sacrifices is angry and frustrated not understanding that the responsibility in a relationship is always 50% for each partner. If we don’t understand this, starting the victim-perpetrator game is usually the consequence. But it is not the solution – neither for the present partnership nor for the ones to follow.
Sometimes we cannot pass back the positive things that we receive from our partners. In these cases gratitude is one way to keep giving and receiving in balance.
In essence, a man is receiving from the woman what he is missing, and giving to the woman what she is missing; a woman is receiving from the man what she is missing and giving to him what he is missing — both must be ready to exchange in a balanced way. They must be ready to show that they need something from the other. The challenge is to take a position in the relationship where both partners give only as much as the other is willing or able to give back, or receive only as much as the other is ready to receive in return.
The biggest cause of an imbalance in partnerships comes from the fact that one partner unconsciously asks the other one to be a parent, or adopts a parental role.
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