Create Relational Balance

Create Relational BalanceIt’s no fun when you realize you’re doing more for him than he’s doing for you. He could give as much as you’re giving in the relationship. It’s not that he can’t. It just seems like he’s not willing.

And that’s why it hurts.

Sometimes our expectations for another person are based on what we know we’re willing to do for them. You know you’d move for his career, for example, so you want him to be willing to consider at least moving for yours.

And it’s not just the big stuff. It’s the people you hang out with, willingness to set aside hurt feelings for the sake of feeling close again, or being there for you when you’re in a bad mood.

There will always be sacrifices in relationships, but the moment you feel like you’re making most of them you’re in trouble. And the longer you feel that way, the more negatively it will affect the relationship.

The trick is to stop that imbalance from building into resentment.

The Impact of Resentment

If there’s an imbalance in the relationship, ask yourself this question. Are you starting to resent him?

Resentment is natural when we feel we’re being short-changed. If you’re feeling even a hint of it, you need to recognize that before going further.

Unrecognized resentment has a way of undermining us, but if you know it’s there you can face it and consciously choose what to do with it before it poisons what’s still good in your relationship.

Talk

If you have good communication patterns with your partner, start there. It’ll be a delicate conversation, so tread lightly. Frame your needs as opportunities.

Frame it as an opportunity for him to build something even more beautiful with you. Make him want to be your hero.

Another option is to be more open about your needs, but without actually pointing out that he is failing to meet some of those needs. Just talking about your needs sometimes does the trick.

Make sure he knows what you want from him. Avoid vague requests.

While I don’t recommend it, there is a third option. You could stop making sacrifices for him. I’ll warn you; this passive-aggressive move isn’t likely to help.

If nothing works, and he’s content to let you do all the work in the relationship, maybe he isn’t the one. Long term, it’s not going to work for you to stay if you’re giving a lot while he gives a little.

But just remember, there will always be moments of imbalance in any relationship.

The key is to recognize it and remain focused on resolving it rather than letting it shut down the warmth and hope that sustains your ever-changing relationship.


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11 thoughts on “Create Relational Balance

  1. Emily said:

    This is a timely post for me as I am feeling this way. I feel every time I ask my bf to do anything whether it is small or big he makes it seem like I’m asking a huge favor or burdening him. Yet if he asked me for something similar I wouldn’t think twice about helping and definitely wouldn’t make a big deal out of it and expect big thanks for it. I feel I do most of the housework and that is not a big deal for me but if I ask for help why can’t he just help? He says I try to control his every move. If I try to talk about it he just gets defensive or turns it around on me. Do you have other suggestion or specific ways to bring it up? Thank you.

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Emily. This is a topic that creates defensiveness for a lot of people. It’s hard to talk about chores without feeling the other person is trying to take advantage.

      A lot of that is caused by assumptions we make. There are assumptions that come from how chores were divided up in our family of origin. There are assumptions that come from the natural bias that causes us to remember all the chores we did but not the chores our partner did. If you think about it, that’s perfectly normal.

      To overcome this problem, identify it as a point of conflict. Try to get agreement on one thing and one thing only, that dividing chores is a point of disagreement that can be overcome by two responsible and loving adults. Only once you have succeeded in achieving that first step should you consider moving on to the second step.

      Here’s the next step. Sit down together and write a list of all the things that need to get done on a regular basis. Don’t assign anything to anyone. Just make a list of everything that needs to be taken care of. Then ask him if he is willing to assign each task to one person or the other. Having him do it will prevent accusations that you are trying to take the easy chores or something like that. He will have a hard time making it unfair because that would make him look bad.

      Finally, don’t keep score. It leads to fights. Just do the things on your list with a happy heart and don’t bring it up when he slacks off on his stuff. Let the decreased orderliness of the household be his teacher instead of you trying to be his teacher.

      James

  2. Lorna (LaLa) said:

    Once again, James, a very insightful article. And thank you for reminding us that relationships go through peaks and troughs, and imbalance will occur at times. That is so important to remember – at times when one or the other is feeling low and not 100% and unable to give as much as they perhaps should emotionally. But don’t you think that women are naturally more giving than men – after all, we are the carers and the men are the hunters, out there bringng home the bacon. A lot of men seem to be unaware that women are starving for signs of being loved and appreciated for all that we do. When I was young, it was normal for the woman to stay at home nurturing the family and the man to be the bread-winner, making sure to provide the security and sustainability of the family. Now that balance has been overturned and everything is topsy-turvy.
    I find that with myself, because I have been so badly hurt in the past, I have a real problem with my out-of-control ego. It is always telling me that I should expect far more from a relationship than perhaps is possible or that the other is able to give, and that as a woman, I should always be number one, being looked after, because I am important, in that I have to take care of the children (or had to!). I don’t know where this comes from, because I know it is so arrogant and realize that both parties should be equally important – but there goes my ego again and again telling me that I am being wronged; don’t let him treat you this way; don’t put up with it; tell him you won’t stand for it, etc. etc. And it doesn’t help when my girlfriends tell me the same things!! And, of course, this attitude just gets up his nose and makes him aggresive. It is so hard to get the balance right. Especially when his ego is screaming at him, as well. It is a real problem I have to deal with, but your article has made me see a different viewpoint. It is certainly worth changing things in order to save a potentially good relationship. Thank you, once again – you talk so much sense!! Lorna

    • James Bauer said:

      Thanks, Lorna. Those are very insightful comments. You seem to be very good at introspection. Thanks for leading the way and modeling that important skill for the rest of us.

      James

      • Lorna (LaLa) said:

        Thanks, James, for your kind words. Once again, I would like to say how very much I appreciate your articles, and your innate wisdom. It seems to strike a chord with me, and your comments have helped me numerous times to “see the wood for the trees” when I have been struggling to find a way forward. As I have said, I am having a lot of problems with my man who is desperately trying to fight his dependence on alcohol (which seems to stem from his depression due to his lack of self-esteem and his losing everything that was meaningful to him – job, family, status, etc. – he drowns his sorrow in alcohol). We are working through it, and he is trying really hard to overcome it. I am having a brief course of free counselling (on the NHS here in England) for significant others, and yes, she has said that I am very analytical, but I have to come down out of my head into my heart – into my “feelngs”. Your articles help me to do that. I just wish he would read them too, but I do sometimes copy relevant bits of yours and others and email them across to him. He has never commented on that, but I assume he is taking them on board!! He is so proud! But patience, and love, is winning the day. Thank you, keep up the good work. Lorna

        • James Bauer said:

          You are a kind and patient person, Lorna. He is lucky to have you in his life.

          James

  3. Sarah said:

    i have a weird situation, but you can help me. So i am 23 and i had dated a man that came right out of rehab, the relationship had a lot of lows and he was so critical of me from the beginning, i ended up being the joke of his family, he manipulated me, lied, and ultimately he became scary abusive when i thought he would be a kind man, he turned out very mean. I am so sensitive, so it was all very dramatic and intense, we had a bad fall out with a order of protection on him and all. its been 2 months since I’ve seen him, i dropped the order knowing it would only hurt him legally Then i went to a concert with a great guy who i have had a crush on since i was in middle school, he asked me randomly to go with him over Facebook,we hit it off he posted a pic of us. While we were leaving and getting tacos of course my stinker ex sends him a long message claiming that IM a total nut and saying i did stuff i didn’t do and he basically tried warning this guy, they were old friends, and kyle ended up reading it in front of me and of course i was shocked and very hurt because i loved my ex a lot. So when i go to explain all that to him, he says he understands it is obvious my ex is trying to hurt me. The next day Kyle(the potential) took down the Facebook picture, and i was so insulted that i actually unfriended him. about a week later of course i regretted it, messaged him asking i still wanted us to remain friends and asked him if we could talk about him taking the pic down because it bothered me, he said he didn’t even notice i deleted him and he said the reason he took it down was that he was annoyed by everyone saying stuff and it wasn’t worth it to him. Now i just feel lost at what to do next, move on? keep messaging him asking how he is doing? readd him back on fb? back off? i actually really liked him, i was so upset he would listen to other peoples opinions before getting to know me, i know I’m not in a state to be in a relationship because the last one was hurtful, but he and i had great chemistry, so how should i get him to pursue me?
    thank you so much i need to put this to rest!

    • James Bauer said:

      Hey Sarah. For personal questions not specifically about the article topic, please submit your question to one of our relationship coaches.

    • jennifer said:

      Are you kidding me? I’m sure as most every woman has in some situation been desperate. But, honey you are looking like a seriously clingy and desperate woman. The best advise I could give you is to work on yourself for at least a year. Travel and find you. Have some respect for yourself.

    • Lorna (LaLa) said:

      Hi Jennifer, It is so sad to hear of what has happened with your ex and your new beau. Yes, of course, he should make his own conclusions about you, based on his own findings, but that would be in an ideal world, and my feeling is that our world now is so topsy-turvy that neither male nor female knows where they stand – what the rules are and how to be with each other. And all the social media does not help – we all know each others’ business like we never have before, and that causes a lot of jealousy and anxiety. Maybe you should just back off completely for now. Try not to get anxious (easily said!!) – just chill, relax and do your own thing for a while. Then, maybe you could just casually contact him in a little while, to see how he is? I know James will tell you that men still like to be the “hunters” – so don’t chase too hard. I feel that men (especially the gentle, caring ones) are actually TERRIFIED of the modern-day woman, some of whom, I think, are far too aggressive, and actually make me embarrassed to be a woman. Try to understand how HE may be feeling. Just let him know what he is missing by being your sweet, wonderful, gentle, feminine. loving self. Perhaps you could use Facebook to your advantage to tell everyone what a wonderful life you are having – foot loose and fancy free – he may pick it up. And as for being clingy and needy – it is my opinion that EVERYONE needs to be loved. What is wrong with that? But I am told that by GIVING love freely, expecting nothing back, it WILL be returned to us. We lead by example. Just be your sweet, loving self, and it will surely come to you. Some of us ARE more loving and caring than others. Thank goodness for that !! Perhaps channel some of that love into a good cause. And don’t let your battered ego get in the way. Remember, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. I wish you love and joy. Lorna (LaLa)

    • Lorna (LaLa) said:

      Sorry, Sarah, I meant my recent response to be for you, not Jennifer.

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