Of Ties That Bind And Sometimes Strain…How Do We Handle Our Relationships?

Posted: January 20, 2016

If we are to feel fulfilled in our relationships, it is important to understand the “give-take” patterns we have created with people we consider significant in our lives. A thoughtful post.

Sheela and Rahul are financially successful professionals. They’ve each lived independently for many years- away from their parents to further their careers. They met, fell in love and got married. Sheela loves her career and has been moving swiftly up the corporate ladder. Soon after marriage, however she got pregnant. Now, a year later, she can’t wait to get back to work. They can’t understand why neither of their parents is willing to stay with them and take care of their kid so that this can happen.

Shazia is a working unmarried woman aged 50. An only child, she lives with her mother aged 73. Their strained relationship makes life at home rather miserable. Her mother is always complaining that if she had had a son, his family would’ve not let her feel so lonely.

Ram’s parents have lived with him and his family enjoying their money and many conveniences, for over 10 years now. He is a devoted son so their old age has been comfortable and secure. Lately though, his wife was diagnosed with cancer and ever since, fights break out between son and old parents because they have decided to stay with another son. Ram will be left to care for his ailing wife and young children on his own.

Reena and Shyam have been best friends since childhood. They fell in love in college and hope to get married some day in the future. Though they both work long hours they’ve always found ways to spend time together often. For the last year, Reena’s mother has been undergoing treatment for depression so Reena spends much less time with Shyam. He is feeling more frustrated and fretful with each passing day. He often demands that Reena must do more to make him feel secure of her love.

Shaina is 18 and loves her father’s large family. They are a boisterous lot who unflinchingly help each other in times of crisis and likewise enjoy many a happy occasion as one. Everyone is loud and affectionate and the air is rife with laughter at family gatherings. But one of Shaina’s uncles makes her uncomfortable- often by paying too much attention to her, heaping compliments on her, bringing her gifts and casually touching her unnecessarily far too often. Her mother and father are angry that she is being narrow-minded and insist that she must good-naturedly tolerate his indulgent affection.

In all the above case studies there is a common thread running through-the ties that bind and make us secure may also stretch and strain so much, that they can cause discomfort and even reach a breaking point.

The biggest advantage of a healthy relationship is that it nurtures a strong sense of support and security for the people involved. In all relationships, when two people engage, there is a component of “giving and taking”. But healthy relationships are crucially defined by “fair” and “giving” interactions between people. This may be emotional, physical, financial, intellectual or psychological. The greater the importance attached to a balance of how much is ‘taken’ and how much is ‘given’ the healthier a relationship will be. Only when there is an overall balance between how much we ‘take’ from someone and how much we ‘give’ to that same person, can a relationship achieve a true sense of fulfilment and satisfaction for all involved. When either the giving or the taking outweighs the other too much or for too long, stress begins to manifest in the relationship.

No matter what the modern day sales and marketing gurus espouse in the business world- being street smart and outsmarting the others in our personal relationships by trying to always ensure we take away more than we invest, can be a sure recipe for disaster.

If we are to feel fulfilled in our relationships, it is important to understand the “give-take” patterns we have created with people we consider significant in our lives. Do we have a tendency to expect from others -regardless of fairness, in terms of what and how much we ourselves may or may not have invested in our relationship with them? Or are we the ones who try so hard to meet others’ expectations- always giving too much and still feeling inadequate- hardly taking or asking for anything in return? Do we ever give under coercion or take unjustly using coercion?

To be happy in long-term relationships with others we must consciously try to balance the give and take negotiations we manoeuvre in our interactions with them, while also always following an important taboo -never coerce someone else to give under duress and never be coerced by force to give.

Image source: close-up of worried woman on phone by Shutterstock.

Inspired by the Tao, Piscean at heart. Proud to be Indian, female, daughter, wife, mother.

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