In order to get the relationship you want, you must be willing to work for it. The best way I know to do this is to apply the relationship one-two punch:
- Ask for nothing more than you’re willing to give in relationships.
- Accept nothing less.
Often in couples there’s one person who is more of the taker and one who is more of the giver. The taker may provide an income to the family; however, beyond that s/he tends to be fairly selfish. The taker wants things done his/her way, does what s/he wants to do when s/he wants to do it, may provide little emotional support or comfort to family members, and adds little beyond money to the family system. The giver basically accepts what the taker gives (with occasional outbursts and pleas, but with no real sustenance).
There are many reasons why this dynamic gets set up, and let me be clear that often both parties contribute to this dynamic: takers learn to take advantage of their partners because their partners allow it; givers continue to do everything because they are afraid of what will happen if they don’t do it all. Both partners create an endless dance of give and take, and neither are very skilled at partnering.
If you want a loving, equally fulfilling relationship, you have to not only be willing to provide your half of the equation (be respectful, thoughtful, emotionally and physically available, etc.), you also have to hold your partner accountable for providing theirs. Anything less runs the risk of creating a giver-taker relationship–one which you are partly responsible for creating.
The bottom line, as I see it, is: We all have the right to hold others accountable to the same rules we hold ourselves. If you are not respectful to others, clean up your act then demand they clean up theirs.
Life is a two-way street, and relationships are no exception to this rule. You deserve to have a partner who’s respectful, cherishing, emotionally and physically supportive, a loving co-parent, and a positive presence in your life. And, your partner deserves the same. Insure that the example you are setting is the behavior you want to receive. If it’s not, change your example. If it is, accept nothing less from your partner.
CHALLENGE: I believe that people will rise or fall to the level of our expectations more often than not. If you don’t expect others to treat you well, chances are they won’t. Begin to raise the bar in your relationships–on you and on your partner; your relationships will be transformed if you do.