Since young, we are showered the educational learning of “be more giving”. One of the greatest Chinese philosophers, Confucius was praised at young for his considerate/selfless character. One time all siblings were given the delicious pears. Confucius, who was at the age of four, gave the bigger pears to the other siblings out of fraternal love (known as the famous story of “Kong Rong giving up pears” (孔融讓梨) from Three Character Classic).
The more giving one seems to have a better say
As soon as we give, at certain degree we feel we must be on the right side, and we begin to judge, expect, and demand. This is how a wife complains about her husband,
“It is always me. Me who cook and do all the housework. Me who take care of the children. Me who make the family decisions. There is nothing he takes part. Whenever I ask him, and even push him to do something, all he says is “You decide. I am fine.” I hardly believe he knows my contribution. He simply takes and stays in his little world.“
The Open Up of the Seemingly Passive-Receiving One
At first glance, it seems the receiver leaves the giver all rights and just takes, only until the conflicts then he/she bursts not wanting any of it in the first place. The agenda lies under “not saying things out”, is probably one’s avoidance to be labeled “selfish” – “If I take everything and still complain, that is really unkind.” Or “I have said I do not want it, but the other won’t listen”.
I think that it is hard for a relationship to work under the static and singular-way status. When one is giving, he/she is also receiving; when the other person is receiving, at same time he is in some way giving too.
Having own perspectives of thinking and behavior, the receiver in fact has to alter the certain things, sometimes even his inner values, in order to make things work. To me, this is a kind of giving too. It includes acceptance, perhaps willingly or unwillingly internal compromise, and the action in supporting the giving to happen.
And so when the receiver has stayed long in the uncomfortable zone of internal change, it is normal for him to gradually form the belief, that he has already done so much to support the other. Interestingly as viewing from the outer side, it seems nothing has been changed. No initiative taken. No input. No explicit outcome. Yet in reality much going on is already happening in the inner self. To certain extent, the mere receiving of the undesired giving is already so much to take in.
In fact, both parties are “doing things”, only in a different way. The problem is, there is no connection in between on what the same “doings” we want the self and the other to give.
Towards the Balanced Relationship
Shall things be changed? I would certainly say so. It is not the question of Yes/No, but HOW – what can be done in a way that both can accept? I believe that relationships are bound to be unbalanced. Certainly there is someone who is more giving, or one who is passive. Yet what is important is that both work together towards balance.
While one stays in the same receiving position for long, it is time to ask the self whether the “not so willingly receiving attitude” the way he/she wants to be to support the relationship? Or it has gradually turned as the silent resentment or avoidance of the relationship. For one who has been giving for long, it’s time to reflect on the meaning of giving – is it merely out of pure care and love, or across time it is replaced by the habitual and routinely behaviour alongside the swelling ego?
We are constantly under the learning of giving and receiving. We start by going towards the own self, instead of pointing at the other.
It is not about own doing what is right for the other, but the together working on How.
It is not about the blindly acceptance of the other, but the act of opening up and compromise may indeed equal the effort taken on doing all giving, or passively eat up the other’s doing.
And so we see the more balanced and wholesome of the relationship, and we meet at the true meaning of love.
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