Christmas is quickly approaching. Sometimes the season is a little more exhilarating for some more than others. But nonetheless, we live in a culture where we are expected be cheery, delightful, spirited, and excited about the holiday craze. Before we know it, we find ourselves deciding what people we will be buying gifts for, what we will buy them, and how much we will spend on them. Sometimes, even those of us with the best of intentions can find ourselves thinking things like this:
“I’m not spending much on so-and-so this year...they always buy me a crappy gift.”
“They never spend as much on me as I do on them.”
“I’m not buying them anything this year because they never bother getting me anything. Why should I care?”
Many of the couples I work with adopt this same mindset, but it persists throughout the year rather than just popping up at Christmas time. I often hear couples saying things like this:
“He never apologizes first, so I’m not going to either.”
“She never tells me what she wants in the bedroom, so I don’t tell her either.”
“He hurt me, and I want him to hurt back.”
“I’m going to treat him like he treats me and see how he likes that.”
“I gave the kids a bath and got them to bed last time. If you don’t do it tonight, I’m not going to help you when you need it.”
“I will have sex with you if you give me something in return.”
The problem with this mindset is that it is tit-for-tat, becoming cumbersome, burdensome, and full of rigidity, ultimately harboring anger, resentment, or breeding contempt in the relationship. The thing we often forget about love is that we have to give it the space to be genuine, authentic, and vulnerable. This means, we have to be willing to give without a guarantee we will get something in return. If we do things only hoping we will get something back, this becomes less of an intimate relationship and more of a scoresheet...a game where there is clearly a winner and a loser. Love cannot be spiteful or vindictive.
So, this holiday season, may we remember to give without the expectation of receiving. May we act with integrity and give the gift we truly want to give instead of the gift we should give. May we treat others the way we WANT to be treated, rather than reflecting to them the way they already treat us.
If this sounds like you, or you feel your relationship is looking more like a scoresheet, consider working with a therapist. A trained therapist will be happy to help you get out of the rut and figure out how to give and receive more love without anger or fighting. It is possible to feel more loved and appreciated in your relationship.
Call today at 678-796-8255 and let’s see if we can work together or schedule an appointment online.