7 Signs You're Giving Too Much in Your Marriage
A good marriage consists of a natural give-and-take between two happy and healthy partners. While giving and taking can fluctuate with life’s circumstances, loving couples usually find a balance. But what happens if you’re the one who is always giving, and your marriage is beginning to feel lopsided?
While it’s human nature to want to give when you love someone, an imbalance in the give-and-take of your relationship can signal trouble with your own psychological needs or the health of your relationship as a whole. How do you know if you’re giving too much in your marriage, and what can you do about it?
Is your marriage healthy?
In a healthy marriage, two people have mutual respect for one another. They love, like, and appreciate each other. They deal with disagreements and disappointments as a team while taking personal responsibility for their own needs and actions.
If you find yourself giving too much and taking too much responsibility when things go wrong, it might be time to look at the dynamics of your relationship. Do you give too much, and does your partner enable that behavior?
We invite you to consider whether any of these statements sound like you.
1. You always put your partner’s needs before your own
You and your partner are individuals with different needs, responsibilities, and interests. While it’s important to support each other and even sacrifice your own desires at times, if you find yourself giving in to all your partner’s wishes without much reciprocation, you may be giving too much of yourself.
2. There is a lack of reciprocity
In a healthy relationship, each partner gives and receives in a mutually beneficial exchange. If no reciprocity exists in the relationship, or if one partner only gives the minimum while expecting a desired outcome, the other partner can eventually feel devalued, used, and unloved.
3. You’ve sacrificed huge parts of yourself
It’s nice – and essential – to share some interests with your partner. But when you’ve held yourself back from pursuing many of your own interests and needs, it can feel like large parts of you are going unfulfilled. Romantic partners can never fulfill all of each other’s needs. You deserve to have friends and interests of your own and your own unique voice.
4. You’re exhausted
Giving, giving, giving can be exhausting. It can affect your physical health and mental health. It can be overwhelming if you’re constantly expected to address and even anticipate your partner’s needs and problems. While healthy partners will do this for each other occasionally, when one constantly over-gives while the other won’t lift a finger or take emotional responsibility for themselves, there’s a problem.
5. “Receiving” makes you uncomfortable
Most “givers” do so out of their own need for control, comfort, and acceptance. If you’re uncomfortable receiving gifts or compliments, you may have gained the love and acceptance you needed through doing for others in the past. Giving may have offered you a sense of control over a situation, boosted your self-esteem somehow, or played into your belief that receiving was selfish.
Unfortunately, as a giver, you may have attracted people into your life who take advantage of your giving nature. When that happens, your giving is no longer a happy or pleasant thing but something that is expected and could even be used to control you.
6. You resent your spouse
If you spend most of your relationship as the giving partner with limited reciprocation, resentment can set it. Even if your spouse is not an egregious “taker,” they may have no idea that your giving nature comes with some expectations for reciprocity.
While no marriage is completely balanced 100% of the time, there should be a balance for most of it. But givers often don’t know how to express their needs in a healthy way. When one spouse is always the giver and the other the taker, the person constantly giving can begin to resent their spouse for not taking some responsibility in the relationship, despite not being able to express this to them. Conversely, a giver can also turn their resentment inward and wonder why they can’t be more assertive and independent in the relationship.
7. You’ve neglected your own needs
If you are the giver in your relationship, you may have neglected yourself and your own needs. Giving may have been the only way you knew how to get the love and attention you needed as a child, or even as an adult, and you may have brought those habits into your married life. Your partner may also be someone who is controlling or irresponsible and has historically found people they could easily manipulate to pick up their slack.
Important reminder: You matter, too
You deserve a balanced and happy life with the time and ability to care for your own needs, not just the needs of others. Chances are, as a giver, you haven't demanded much. But asking for balance isn’t needy or selfish; it’s healthy – for both you and your partner.
Married couples live on a two-way street. You have every right to get your needs met in your marriage, too. You can begin to do this by considering some of the following steps.
- Do some self-reflection. Is your need to give overwhelming you and preventing your spouse from taking personal ownership? Has your giving behavior made you feel used and allowed others around you to control and step all over you?
- What makes you happy? If there was nobody else in the equation, how would you be enriching your life? What would make you happy if you weren’t caring for everyone else?
- Learn to communicate your needs. Good communication is key to a good marriage, as your spouse isn’t a mind reader. Lovingly and assertively communicating your needs may be the only thing preventing you from getting them met.
- Learn how to create strong boundaries. Decide when enough is enough and what you will do if you’re pushed beyond that. Be clear about your boundaries with others, and be prepared to act on the consequences if they’re ignored.
- Focus on self-care. This could take practice, especially if you’ve always put your own needs last. Whenever you think you’re being selfish, lovingly remind yourself that a certain amount of self-care is not only healthy, it’s necessary for your well-being.
Sometimes, when one spouse changes but the other doesn’t, the relationship can remain broken. If you find that your imbalanced relationship is unlikely to change, it might be time to consider your options. At Hello Divorce, we are committed to helping people navigate divorce in the least stressful and most cost-effective way possible. We offer online divorce plans, related professional services, and an extensive library of resources to help you along the way. Schedule a free phone meeting with an account coordinator to see how we can help you.