Most of us have heard the famous James Howell saying, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” This proverb describes how important it is to have a balance of study and entertainment in the life of a student. Although, it can also be interpreted in a way to showcase the importance of balance in life. May it be
the balance between healthy, nutritious food or junk food, binging Netflix or getting that 8-hour sleep or the work-life balance that articles worldwide seem to be telling you about. A balance has to be attained in order for things to work. Similarly, to keep a relationship healthy, balance is the key.
Why is balance so important in relationships?
To understand why balance is important to make a relationship work, the two people involved have to work together in the same direction and have an equal contribution. In every healthy relationship, there is a constant give and take.
One needs to learn how to compromise and make sacrifices. If one of you likes to plan small trips on the weekends and the other one likes to sit at home and enjoy reading a book with coffee, balance is finding a middle ground by doing both the things together on alternate weekends. When in an argument, it isn’t about winning a small fight by putting the other person down. It is about getting over the argument and winning as a team. And that requires the effort from both the people.
What Happens When There Is a Lack of balance?
Most of us have been a part of a relationship where it seems like we are doing all the effort and investing all our energy whereas the other person isn’t reciprocating. If you feel that you are giving too much in your relationship, resentment will build over time.
An unbalanced relationship can’t last long.
Exploding in the end may lead to a fight that feels out of control, or even in abandoning the relationship in a fit of anger. Imploding may lead to withdrawing, telling our partner half-truths or being passive-aggressive.
Trying to have a balanced relationship doesn’t mean one has to keep scores of what they did for the other person and keep expecting the other person to do something for them in return.
To understand this whole dynamic, there is a very interesting theory given by Adam Grant in which he explains that there are 3 kinds of people: Givers, Matchers and Takers.
Givers’ primary motivation is to take care of others. In a relationship, they are always thinking about gifts for their partner, they take their partners’ interests into consideration, and they ask, “What else can I do for you?” They understand a relationship as an opportunity to give and take care.
Matchers tend to keep a balance sheet in any relationship. When they give, they do so with an expectation of getting something in return. When they receive, they feel like they have to give something back.
Matchers are the ones who keep tabs and view relationships as somewhat like a commercial transaction and they are the ones most likely to say something like, “I did this for you, but you didn’t do that for me,” or “You paid for this, so I’ll pay for that.”
Takers usually treat people well only when those people can help them reach their goals. One can recognize a Taker by how poorly they treat people they believe are of no use to them. You know you’re in a relationship with a Taker when you feel they suck you dry of all you have. Once the Taker has everything they want, they may relegate us to the ‘unimportant’ sphere of their life.
Being in a balanced relationship may seem like being a matcher, giving what you’re receiving but a matcher is as toxic as a taker. For a relationship to work, both of the people have to act as a giver because according to Adam Grant, Givers seem to have the best relationships but, that can only be if we support them as they support us. Ultimately, for a good relationship that benefits us, we will want our partner to be happy and will want to support them in return.
How to achieve that balance?
Achieving this balance isn’t something that happens overnight or is a one-time solution. It takes constant effort and it is never an easy process. It takes a lot of time and energy but, if both of the people involved are contributing and receiving the same amount of energy, such relationships can be very fulfilling.
Here’s how we can create a balance in our relationships:
Communication involves both speaking and listening. Without open lines of two-way communication, the relationship will be out of balance because only one partner is really being heard and considered. The whole point of a relationship is to co-create an environment where both people complement each other, if each person isn’t able to contribute, the relationship will likely be one-sided.
• Accept Disagreement
Having a balanced relationship doesn’t mean you agree on everything. In fact, it can be just the opposite. Be willing to disagree: a balanced relationship isn’t conflict-free, conflict can help to restore balance through getting bottled emotions out in the open or it can act as a space for sharing different perspectives. The key to disagreeing effectively is to not attack the other person and maintain respect on both sides.
Make room to disagree, try to understand each other’s point of view, and debate with respect. We don’t need to be the same person, we just need to hear each other out.
• Find Your Unique Balance
Not every relationship is going to be balanced in the same way. Every relationship is unique and will have different points of balance. Take time to figure out what’s important to us and where we’re willing to compromise. If we stay true to our values, we’ll find a balance that works for us. It might not look like someone else’s relationship and that’s OK.
• Manage Your Expectations
We are in a constant state of learning about one another and since people grow and change, the lessons never stop. The first step in finding more balance is to assume you know nothing!
People will never be what we want them to be in our fantasies. They might not be who we thought they were the day before. That is what makes people so beautiful. Appreciate the unknown instead of trying to control it.