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3rd Component of Successful Relationships

Ah, the tireless mom.  You know, the one who does EVERYTHING in the house.  Perhaps, to a degree, I’m being duplicitous (5 bonus pt.’s for me) by saying tireless and mom…aren’t they all?  Don’t they all give their all…all the time?  No, I’m not talking about the ones that they interview on the 11:00 news from that town near you that you’ve never heard of that “just glanced at the t.v.” and didn’t notice her 2 year old had built a bomb and had it in his wagon three blocks away…no, not that mom.  I mean every mom you know.  Mom’s by nature give and don’t receive much, if anything, in return.  Perhaps I’m being sexist, boo hoo if I am.  Yes, we husbands do our fair share as well but it’s an illustration so my stereotype is useful, leave me alone.  If the relationship that the mom has with her children is the only one she has, she is in trouble.  One cannot simply give and never receive.

Yes, that brings us to the third essential component of successful relationships, Mutual Giving.  If you are going to have a successful relationship there has to be mutual giving to meet each others emotional needs.  We cannot simply give or receive.  It has to be both.  If that doesn’t happen, the results are varied, but all bad.  Look back at the 2nd component, open honest and vulnerable communication.  If that is taking place and you are communicating your needs to the other person in your relationship, and they are not giving to meet those needs how long can that last?  I am very sad for those of you who read that and answered however long you’ve been married.  There are many of you.  On the flip side, is the other person in your relationship not having their needs met by you?  That is certainly no better.  Remember, this is the 3rd component.  If you aren’t taking care of the 2nd component this step will be much more difficult if not practically impossible.

It’s almost formulaic (3 bonus pt.’s) at this point but let’s take a look at what mutual giving isn’t so as to understand what it is.  It is not, quite simply, you attentively listening to their needs, doing your best to meet them, and then rationalizing away things they do and trying to say that “they are doing their best” or “this is how they love me.”  No, if you have to interpret it, it’s not meeting your needs or vice versa.  It is also not “giving in” to the other person in regards to conflict or even your choices of how and where to spend your time together.  Saying, “I don’t care honey, you pick the restaurant” is not mutual giving…it is pacifying if not placating.  Unless, of course, they are feeling a need for respect and have shared as much.  Simply letting the other person get their way doesn’t cut it.  Lastly, it is not relenting to the others constant barrage at taking to meet an emotional need.  If you are constantly all over the other person in your relationship with hugs, kisses, hand holds, and sweet nothings (a desperate plea for affection) and one of those times they “let you” without shrugging you off, it’s not mutual giving.  It doesn’t make you feel loved or enable you to experience true affection…at best it’s a drop in the bucket (minus 2 for a cliche’).

Mutual giving is simply meeting a stated, or known, need out of love.  Given that last example it is the other person coming up to you, looking into your eyes and saying, “I really love you” and hugging you.  They initiate the affection, state it, and follow it with action.  Even as you read that don’t you feel the warmth that giving would bring?  Wouldn’t that meet that need so much more than them not pulling their hand away one time at the mall when you reached for it?  I’m not saying that you wouldn’t take that.  When we are desperate to have a need met we will take anything.  However, nothing other than true mutual giving will meet that need.

When we put this component into our relationship(s), even just a little, a foundation of functionality can begin to exist.  Trust begins to be built and fear starts to fall.  We will be able to love, and feel love more freely.  Will it happen all at once?  No.  Will we still be hurt by others not meeting our needs?  Sure.  Will we still fall short and not meet others needs from time to time?  Absolutely.   Yet, if we mutually give and receive to meet open, honest, and vulnerably communicated needs God will do great things.  If we only give (or only receive) we (or they) will seek to get those needs met elsewhere.  That’s never good.  Bitterness, sadness, aloneness, and a great lack of self worth will follow as well.  Eventually, a numbness will set in that is sad as the one not receiving the love just resigns themselves to a life without having their emotional needs not met.  Don’t be a martyr, you do have these needs, communicate them, explain them, ask them to be met.  Don’t be a stone and have the other person explain their need and you simply nod and do nothing.  Give…receive, love and grow.

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