The more I think about it the more it seems like a significant indicator in the long term success of a relationship is whether or not there is a balance of giving. By that I mean is each partner comfortable with how much they give and also get within the relationship? By this definition staying in an abusive relationship does not count as successful because the abused partner would not meet reasonable standards of what is considered comfortable.
I can certainly provide examples from my own life. My ex wife is a giver and I would say that I could have given more during our 26 years of marriage. I was comfortable because I didn’t have to give more than was expected in terms of nurturing of the relationship. We each had our own space within the relationship and the kind of giving I could easily provide was appreciated, which mainly consisted of providing for my family and helping to create a good family dynamic as the children grew up.
My ex wife will also say that our marriage was comfortable but yet it failed. The reason was that a fatal flaw present from the beginning but largely suppressed by my ex wife eventually came to the surface just as we were becoming empty nesters. This flaw was a gnawing restlessness that she just couldn’t get rid of and which I really could do very little about. There were probably a combination of reasons for this restlessness but certainly one of them is that I am an introvert and she is an extrovert.
This is when things get interesting. As I have said in an earlier post there is no easier prey for a Narcissist than an unhappily married woman. In this case the Narcissist also found a giving woman quite different than his previous equally (compared to him) high maintenance ex girlfriend. After a well planned and successful effort to win my ex wife over they are now by common consensus in an unhappy marriage. As you might expect she is giving and giving but it is still not enough.
I went through a similar experience after our divorce. I met my own Narcissistic and now ex girlfriend. But unlike my marriage the joy of a comfortable ride was over. Now I ended up having to be the giver. As I told her many times I was putting more into that relationship than I put into any other relationship. I put so much into it in fact that I had an overall feeling at times of just needing to run away. Well, as you can probably guess, nothing I gave was ever enough.
When I was in third grade I met a new friend and things were not going well. I remember clearly my Mother telling me then that there are givers and takers in this world and that you have to watch out for the takers. Maybe that is as simple as it is or needs to be. I often question which I am and have accepted that I am somewhere in between. Generally that means if you don’t ask too much from me I won’t ask too much from you. I live that way because I know that I only have so much nurturing ability. I admire greatly caregivers in nursing homes and Nurses in hospice care but I could never be one. I don’t know why that is. Maybe it goes along with being an introvert or that I wasn’t held enough as a baby like some books suggest. It doesn’t really matter at this point. I just know that if I ever get in another relationship that a balance in the expectations related to giving is an important criteria if I want the relationship to be successful.