Relationships – Making Someone Happy

Guest Post by wordssetmefreee

There are times when we do things hoping to make someone else happy. I’ve made my children’s favorite dishes countless times over the years. I’ve recalled that a certain teacher likes the Chai Latte at Pete’s Coffee and Tea. I had bought her a bag of this tea when I wanted to appreciate her for her dedication. When my best friend turned 40, I looked everywhere for a copy of Tagore’s Fireflies to get her a birthday present that would mean something to her.

And then, there are times when we try to make someone happy and it takes us down a very self-defeating path. I remember this friend who was not quite committed to our friendship. I mistook her last minute cancellations for genuine personal problems and felt protective toward her. I would listen intensely to her problems, and think about them, and offer helpful suggestions. I did not realize that she very rarely listened to me or cared about what was going on in my life. I mistook her flakiness for innocence and an inability to defend herself. A little late into the friendship, I realized that she would show up only when nothing else was going on in her life. While I would put our meetings on the calendar and fit things around them. Once I began to see her for who she really was (not evil, and nothing personal about her callousness, but just an inability to be someone solid, reliable, and committed to anything), I put an end to our friendship without a fight. I simply told her it wasn’t working.

The above situation is inevitable in relationships – we trust people sometimes, assume they are true to their word and when we learn otherwise, we distance and protect ourselves.  A relationship is like a dance – sometimes it’s smooth and comes together beautifully.  Sometimes it’s awkward.  Sometimes, we start stepping on each other’s toes – and then it’s time to stop and assess what’s happening.

So what happens when we don’t protect ourselves? What happens when we try to mend the relationship by doing more and more while getting back less and less? We are setting ourselves up for manipulation and abuse. In these instances, the more we try to make the other person happy, the less happy we ourselves become. Because their happiness comes at a cost of ours.

This is what I was thinking of when reading some recent emails on this blog. Women in our culture are taught at a very early age to put others’ happiness ahead of theirs. This makes them easy targets for manipulation and abuse.

But it doesn’t just have to happen in abusive relationships or just with women. It can happen at the workplace or with friendships – with both men and women – trying to make someone else happy or trying to make someone proud of us comes at a cost to our own happiness and is invariably detrimental to our relationships and our emotional health.

Yet this self-damaging behavior (varying in intensity) is exceedingly common. Students compete hard to get into the best colleges rather than to pursue something they find interesting in a less than top-notch college. Employees try hard to please their bosses and become disheartened at their criticism. People try to impress their neighbors and friends with better cars, better houses, and better clothes. People have multiple surgeries to stretch their skin free of wrinkles. Some people earn so much money but it is never enough. They are still working on landing a better deal, a better job, a better yacht, and a better life.

It almost seems as if it is human nature to try to win the approval of others, and in doing so, we set ourselves up for misery. No one can claim that they haven’t tried to win someone’s approval somewhere in the teeniest possible way.

Where does this begin, this need for approval?

Survival Instincts

It probably starts with trying to please our parents. When we are little, our parents provide us with every need. We depend on them for our survival. We feel secure when we see them, the guardians of our world, happy. Bringing a smile to their faces seems to trigger the pleasure centers in our brain.

I remember how I would fear my parent’s disappointment more than my own, when I received a bad grade on a test. I also remember a particular day when I went on stage to receive a trophy in a debate tournament. I did not think much of my trophy because I felt the topic was predictable. The event felt special because my father, who had to travel a lot, was in town and was able to attend. As soon as I took it, I searched the audience for my father’s face. I found him smiling and clapping. Even though there were many people in the room, they all just blanked out for me. All I saw was my father’s proud face. Why was his approval more important to me that my own reaction?

Our parents have been given something precious – this tiny bit of power – to mold a life – and power can be intoxicating. They begin to teach us, influence us, shape us. Much of this happens with good hearts and intentions. (I’m referring here to non-toxic parenting.)  And yet some part of parenting begins to create certain expectations that don’t necessarily value the individual at hand.

A Habit That’s Hard to Break

And thus, our parents have naturally set the stage for seeking approval. When we ace a test, we see tour parents smile, and we want to keep acing tests so badly. When we do badly on a test, we get heart broken. And this sets in motion a pattern of earning approval and being rewarded for it.

Earning approval suppresses the self because the rewards are external. – a pattern that some of us eventually break out of, when we realize that setting our own goals, self-assessing our own efforts, and asserting our individuality is the more genuine way to happiness.

Some people, however, continue this pattern and extend it to other authority figures (after they outgrow their parental home). They must gain approval from their neighbors, their friends, their in-laws. They must keep others happy. It’s now a habit that’s hard to break.

It takes them on a path where they’ve forgotten who they are and what they want. Even though the approval they get feels good in the short run, the conditions for approval keep changing, and it’s a hard game to keep up with. Human beings are insatiable creatures – give them control and they keep wanting more. The person seeking approval gets caught in a web of someone else’s greed and insecurities.

The Need to Belong

Human beings are mostly social creatures and thrive in groups.  Sometimes we seek approval because we want to belong in a group. The group gives us warmth, affection, camaraderie, fun, and in return, we give the group back conformity. In college, I belonged to a group of girls who wore mostly Western clothes. (I didn’t think deeply about my clothing choices, I just wore what I liked and my parents didn’t have strong opinions on the matter.) And being similar in other ways made us gravitate toward each other. We also spoke comfortably in English and belonging to different states made the English speaking a necessity.   There were 2 girls in my group that spoke condescendingly about other girls who appeared more traditional in their dressing choices. They also made fun of other people’s (English) accents. This wasn’t good-natured fun, this was clearly ‘I’m better than you’ kind of talk. I felt uncomfortable with this talk but never protested.

I was not assertive enough in my 20s to say, “She has the right to wear what she wants. Stop judging her.” Or “If you think her English is so funny, let’s hear you talk in French.” Or “The gist of what she’s saying in imperfect English has far more depth than your superficial Gibberish.”

This is not to say the group was all bad.  We had a great time discussing books, watching old B&W movies, solving made-up mysteries, dancing to “Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head”, making fun of each other, falling in love with Mr. Darcy, and singing “I have Confidence in Me” at the top of our voices until the neighbors protested.

I was afraid of losing their friendship. I was going against my beliefs (that we respect other people’s choices and abilities) and ‘blending in’ to preserve the relationship. A lot had changed for me over the next 20 years – as I gradually learnt to speak my mind and openly advocate for my values and beliefs, without losing valuable friendships. But it took time and effort. It didn’t just happen.

Dependence and Fear

If a woman is financially dependent on her husband and in-laws, she may do things that go against her value system, to keep them happy. This is not just a matter of survival. This is also something that is driven by fear. Although survival is an issue here, there are solutions. There are means and ways to garner supports, get skills/education, find a job, file for divorce, and free oneself from this prison. It is not an easy path and it is strewn with hardship, but it’s not impossible. What is much harder to overcome is the fear – a fear that is induced my sheer numbers – parents and in-laws, neighbors, extended family, and friends acting against one person. It feels like the whole world is telling you that you need to adjust, you should know your place, you have to earn your basic rights, and to please quit complaining.

Fear makes people try hard to win hearts, a venture that is bound to fail, because people who need to be “won over” are never worth it.

Nature

Some of us hate conflict.  Others take it head on.  Some of us worry about how others feel.  Others don’t.  When my brother and I used to fight in our teens, we would sometimes stop talking.  I would cry all night and analyze my every word and action and try to look for something I did wrong and look at the situation from both his side and mine.  He would sleep through the night blissfully.  It’s not that he didn’t (or doesn’t) love me.  But I think I worked much harder at our relationship than he did.  Even now, I work harder at my other relationships than he does with the people in his life.  I can’t just sleep through the night when I fight with someone.  This makes me vulnerable to some degree.

Can We Break Out of This?

So, what can we do to watch out for this behavior? Some people seem to have a natural ability to resist it. They may have been born assertive, outspoken, and seem to always be able to prioritize their wishes, desires, and happiness. What can we do if this is not our first instinct? How can we protect ourselves and safeguard our personal happiness?

Make a conscious decision to love yourself.

In many cultures, children are taught that loving oneself is selfishness. This is such a mistaken notion. If we are unable to love ourselves, we can’t truly love others. If we judge ourselves harshly, we are more likely to judge others. If we disrespect ourselves, we become insecure and resentful of other people.  If we despair over every mistake of ours, we are more likely to see other’s mistakes as permanent failures.  If we see our mistakes as growth, we tend to be more forgiving of others’ faults.  Therefore understanding that it all begins with us is the first step.

Get to know yourself.

What do you like and dislike? What makes you uncomfortable? What do you fear? What gets you excited? How do you typically react in a given situation? Many of us have never been asked these questions, growing up. We’ve often been TOLD how to feel. As adults, we may continue to fumble when presented with various situations.   We wonder – How should I react? How am I supposed to react? “Maybe, it’s not okay to get angry when someone tells me to wake up earlier. Maybe, I’m the one being unreasonable.” When we don’t know ourselves, we don’t know what we want. Then we don’t know what to fight for.

Understand boundaries.

This is something we don’t learn, growing up in India, and other similar cultures. I grew up in a house full of aunts, uncles, and cousins. Everyone used everyone’s things. This wasn’t ‘sharing’ or ‘generosity’. It was mostly inconsiderate behavior. Those who were pushy got more, the nicer ones got less, as a result of this no-boundaries environment.

My parents bought me a scooter when I turned 16. I took good care of it and used it responsibly. My older cousin began ‘borrowing’ it and I was expected to ‘share and be nice’ and I did. Then he would use it roughly and it began needing more and more repairs. Sometimes he would bring it home with not a drop of gas left in it. Sometimes I didn’t have it on hand when I really needed it (when I went for tutoring). When I questioned him on these things, he told me that since he’s a boy, he should have more access to it because, he can go out late and run errands and help the family. My parents didn’t want to fight with his parents over it. The result was someone getting away with inconsiderate, irresponsible, selfish behavior.

Keep track of the cost to yourself.

When you deny yourself your rights – the right to ownership (in my scooter example), the right to respect for one’s own time (in the example of my friend who stood me up often) – then we are entering the area of unfairness and unhappiness. This crossing over often goes unnoticed. Being aware of this boundary alerts us to someone impinging on our rights and taking advantage of us.

Understand that being nice is still okay.

You don’t have to be rude or loud or mean to stand up for yourself. But you do have to be firm. And you have to be unequivocal with your communication.

Don’t say, “Can you please not use my computer?” to your children, especially after you told them it’s off limits. Instead say, “Don’t use my computer. It’s not okay to use other people’s devices without their permission.” If you see something as a violation of a boundary, say it in no uncertain terms. And say it like you mean it. You are not asking or requesting. You are telling someone what you think and that you intend to stand by it.

Assess your relationships from time to time.

Stepping on each other’s toes?  Frequently unhappy?  More and more conversations leaving a bad taste in your mouth?  Take a step back and try to be objective. As yourself, “Am I getting something valuable out of this relationship? Is there give and take? Am I being listened to? Do my thoughts and feelings count? Do I take the lead at least half the time? Do I get to make my own decisions about personal things that affect no one else? Do I feel supported and affirmed by the other person?

Answer the above questions honestly. Be willing to look at the truth. Do you feel you could’ve stopped some people from manipulating you sooner? Did you badly want to believe they were good? Did you try too hard to make things work? If the truth is undesirable, that’s okay. That’s what we humans do – we make mistakes. You can always change course and begin to work on reclaiming your happiness.

——————————————————————————————————–

Not everyone is naturally assertive. But we can all work on it. Our relationships teach us many things about ourselves. There is this inner commentary that our brain engages in – a sort of an objective, truthful, and meaningful analysis of our experiences. It’s up to us to listen and pay attention.

Are you naturally assertive? Or did you have to work at it? Which experiences shaped you? Did you try to make a relationship work, only to realize later that it wasn’t worth it? Do you prioritize your happiness? Do other people’s opinions have a strong influence on you? Do you struggle with trying not to seek approval? Please share your experiences in these situations.

I’m most interested in the growth aspect of this.  What did you learn? What would you want to work toward?

Related Posts:

An email from a Newly Wed Wife. “Now they don’t like me.”

But how do we go about accepting ourselves just the way we are?

Does loving someone mean we should ‘improve’ them?

“I think most problems in life are when we look for approval and validation outside of ourselves.”

What are we generally thinking of when we say ‘Respect Women’?

Display of respect to those in power, in Indian culture.

When you offer her respect,

What do ‘Modest’ women have that their ‘Immodest’ sisters don’t…

“I have met a lot of Indian guys who say their parents have done a lot for them so they can’t leave them now…”

“What is it in a ceremony of a few hours, that makes women fight tooth and nail to preserve the marriage, however unhappy they may be…?”

‘My parents will be ignored and ridiculed. No one will let them forget my so called shameful behaviour.’

An email: Is it okay to make someone give up something they love to do, because we want them around?

“You can listen to your parents and be unhappy or you can go against them and feel guilty – those are your choices?”

35 thoughts on “Relationships – Making Someone Happy

  1. I need to take a print out of this post and carry with me everywhere!! Infact both me and my husband.
    We are exactly what you have describe din this post. This is such a wonderful write up!! Thanks for writing this….I now know what mistakes not to make with my daughter! Thank you so much!!

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    • D, some of us put more faith in people, we tend to see more good. I think it’s both a vulnerability and a strength. Glad you found this helpful. Hugs.

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  2. You write such excellent posts.
    I am coming to the conclusion that I can do better without a lot of my A-level (pre-degree) friends. There is this one girl who I was very close to during A-levels:she is generally a very thoughtful, reflective person, and we had a lot in common. After college, though, even though I tried to make an effort to see her more regularly, she used to cancel at the last minute, never starting conversations or texting back. While I enjoyed my friendship with her for those one and a half years, I have no time for those who have no time for me.
    Having said that, I am lucky, because I am at a crossroads in my life. It is accepted that you will grow distant from many people after A-levels, once you start University.

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  3. A lot of how one’s respond comes from whether you operate from an internal or external frame of reference It’s partly nature, partly nurture. India as a society rewards operating from an external frame of reference as in “what will people think if I do x, y or z”. Self-motivated, self-reliant behaviour is often deemed “selfish” is a society that is structured on co-dependence.

    Martyrdom – putting one’s values and desires aside to placate others – is a valued trait if you are a woman or lower in the social hierarchy. Eg. junior colleages being expected to stand up if the “boss” walks in or women expected to eat leftovers after serving the men.

    I know many women who gain something from this sense of martyrdom and claim moral superiority for sticking to stereotypical behaviours and pulling down others who do not want to toe the line. There is definitely some dysfunctional incentive structure at work there.

    Liked by 3 people

    • This is right !
      Many times its women who are confused …the nurture part is so strong ,so automatic that it dictates how we dress,eat,function and what we like !
      Women can’t sometimes differentiate between self responsibility, and martyrdom ! Worst,..,….. martyrdom is self feeding behaviour,a trap which can keep us engaged ,basically doing nothing worthwhile !
      As I grow older, I can’t seem to ignore endocrine imbalances ,…thyroid ,pcos,monthly cycle play of hormones which affect women on daily basis especially on our moods and thinking !
      Because of poor food and lifestyles, hormone imbalances are becoming more and I think it affects women horribly and makes problems in lives worst and affects decisions that we make daily !

      Liked by 1 person

      • Every complaint of pain or trouble is retorted with “If you cannot bear this, how will you have children?”. Please don’t ignore your hormonal issues. See a doctor and let nobody tell you you’re less of a woman for taking care of yourself. I found out that I had a uterine fibroid after I got pregnant and that’s why I’d been having painful periods since eternity. Nobody took me seriously when I’d be curled up in pain and throw up at every attempt to eat food.

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    • Ah yes …. sacrifice …. the great Indian hook. Not just Indian, many Asian cultures glorify sacrifice. Yes, I’ve met women who seem to “enjoy” their role as martyrs but I think they feel the pain too … at some point. No one has shown them a better way.

      I do want to make the distinction that the post was not necessarily confined to this subset of people (women in patriarchal cultures who are confined by stereotypes). I’m talking about people everywhere in every culture, both men and women, at work and in personal relationships.

      I think all humans have difficulty gauging relationships precisely – because they are defined by so many ever-shifting parameters. You may start off in a pretty satisfying, equal, respectful 50-50 relationship. Without your notice it may slip to a 40-60, you’re sensing something’s not quite right. When it gets to 30-70, many of us sit up and take notice. Then we take charge. We either communicate and solve the problem or we choose to leave. Some people may not leave. No one really knows why. No one wants to be unhappy. But some people seem to struggle with a set off factors necessary for leaving an unhappy relationship. What can we ALL do (regardless off where we lie on this spectrum of assertiveness) to protect ourselves? This (I hope) is the crux of my post.

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  4. I have a different view here. You mention your post that you once had a friend who did not share the same level of affection for you as you did to her. You mention “I remember this friend who was not quite committed to our friendship” and then further defend her saying “not evil, and nothing personal about her callousness, but just an inability to be someone solid, reliable, and committed to anything”. You rightly acknowledge that she wasn’t committed to the friendship between the two of you but the conclusion that she would be unable to be someone solid or reliable is a far stretch. Very often in life we come across relationships where people involved do not contribute equally to the relationship, that does not necessarily make them unreliable. They could be very reliable people with priorities different from yours. I am not speaking of your friend, but speaking in general.
    As far as making others happy goes, I think a person who’s unhappy in a relationship cannot bring happiness to the relationship. You can only give what you have. You cannot make yourself more miserable and expect that the other person in the relationship will be happy. Not if the other person is not a sadist.

    Regards,
    Danita.
    http://balckwhitegrey.blogspot.in/

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    • I agree with the first part of your comment, but with a caveat. Although I have seen her behave unreliably in other aspects of her life, in some cases, as you said, people do have other priorities, and they do move on in relationships. This in itself is fine. Best thing to do then is to communicate this somehow rather than waste the other person’s time not showing up. I think not showing up consistently is disrespectful regardless of where the relationship is. If you can’t make it, say so.

      The second part – people don’t make themselves miserable on purpose, nor do they think their misery will somehow rejuvenate the relationship. People think the relationship is in place A and they happily and willingly do their part to keep it in A, and then when they realize it has slipped to B, they have a choice – they can leave (healthy choice) or stay and become progressively sad and miserable (unhealthy). Of course, they know it won’t help. But people don’t always act rationally. If they acted rationally 100% of the time, we would have very few problemss in relationships.

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  5. Recently i went to my high school reunon, it was an awesome beach resort and i met a bunch of fab people, many i didnt know well in school at all. All in all a refreshing break.
    What i found was. many people had thought i was a hardcore, feminist boardroom bitch who doesnt give an inch🙂 thru our many nteractions thru email and whatsapp , once i met them in person and of course debated ideas and thoughts , i found many old fashioned and patriarchial in ideas and 99% of them very receptive to new thought . They also found me to be sweet, accomodating and very involved in my career without being a bitch🙂 according to them they would like their kids to be like me , they do see the benefit of women being assertive, they do see the benefit of an ind happy spouse and they plan to make changes🙂 isnt that wonderful. irrespective of if they do or not we were both open to each others ideas, no expectations, i think thats the best part of young age friendships, no comparisons no nothing, just pure acceptance and fun.

    Im not at all shy and dont mind telling everyone my careerb comes frst, it is not a job for me, it is a fun, enjoyable,moneymaking career that partly defines who I am . I do love my kids to death and my spouse but i love my career to death too ( a teensy bit more i think) i found that with the older gen they find this hard to accept. especially in a women. i’ve also found plenty of women who cannot understand me. which is ok, each has a choice. as long as we dont judge then we can all move on i guess.

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    • MR, happy for you that you could keep those school friendships going. They always bring back such sweet memories for me. In your case, the relationships seemed to have undergone true growth – because they accepted something different in you, they see the shades of grey. So many times, friendships die out when one person changes/grows and the other person finds this hard to accept.

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  6. A beautiful piece! There are some very good questions here that forces you to explore the internal depths of your personality. It is also true that some of us are nurtured to believe that being nice is the only way to be. Being assertive or thinking about your desires is selfish, and this is a common trait amongst our cultural beliefs. Though I’d like to think that this is changing as more of my self-aware friends begin to reproduce.

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    • I think people mistake loving oneself for ego or selfishness, this is why they find it unappealing. But loving yourself is more about looking more kindly at yourself, accepting yourself, warts and all, it’s more about self awareness. And we can’t understand the world very well without self awareness and self acceptance. You are right … this is changing …. even in our culture.

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  7. I have thought so many times about friendships, the loss of some valuable friends, friends who don’t treat you right. All those thoughts are swirling in my head as I read this post, but I can’t get a coherent comment out of me. I really want to write how I dealt with friendships which weren’t working and had gone to the extent of becoming toxic. But not able to word it right. Sorry.
    But thank you, Priya for writing this. I think there is a book in you. You are able to write on different topics with clarity and a logical flow. But the best thing about your writing is that it is very relatable, I am able to connect to each of your articles. At some point in life, I have faced these issues.

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    • Thank you Raindrop🙂 I go through this too – when I have so much to say I don’t know where or how to start. I call it the brewing period.
      your thoughts will come out eventually and take shape when you are ready. Let the clouds gather …… and wait for the downpour🙂

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  8. Thank you Priya for writing this article,

    I don’t see anything wrong with pleasing people and making people happy as long as it does not cost you your happiness and you are not taken advantage of. As long as you are allowed to be you and respected, there is nothing to worry about. When it comes to pleasing people, I think it should be done out of love and affection where you just WANT to make them happy and see the smile on their faces, and in return they’ll love you for that. However, I see people pleasing others just to “fit in” or not be “left behind”, transforming themselves into someone they are naturally not and just want to be part of the herd. I see it so many times, and obviously it is so evidently common in teens and adolescents. Even in my college, there are people who try so hard to be part of the popular clique and perhaps don’t want to be seen as a “loser”. However later on they face severe consequences and learn hard lessons. I learned throughout my experiences that you are better off being yourself and do what you love what to do. Because trying to like and following the popular ones can hurt you later on. Speaking of that, when following what others say, you don’t learn how to give equal respect, especially those who are different from you. That’s why you are judged and mocked for not being part of the mold (Indian girls and women often face this sadly). Having differences in everyone regarding choice, lifestyle ..etc can bring a much wider picture that all people are unique and good in their own way and needs to be respected for that. There’s no one way to live life.

    Relationships are never a guarantee, they come and go in various phases of your life. One most important thing I noticed among those who have very strong relationships is there is equal and mutual respect among the individuals, as well having a non-judgmental attitude, regardless of one’s status or race..etc. That’s what creates a relationship very strong. And honestly not many people, especially in Asian cultures see this as they are all about superiority and seniority, which on the latter destroys relationships to a tee. I witnessed that first hand, no doubt !

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    • “One most important thing I noticed among those who have very strong relationships is there is equal and mutual respect among the individuals, as well having a non-judgmental attitude, regardless of one’s status or race..etc.”
      Absolutely. Respect is the first requirement. Leaving out status/race helps us find a more meaningful connection than just commonality.

      Non-judgmental …. this is the hardest. I try hard to not judge others and mostly succeed but every once in a while, I become prone to it. We have to remind ourselves that we can never really know what others go through. The same situation is experienced by the other differently. This is the hardest thing to bear in mind and
      practice. I decide, “A makes sense to me, B does not make sense, B is unhealthy/self-destructive/counter-productive therefore I choose A. And so should you.”

      But what I’m forgetting is, choosing A comes easily to me. For you, you are not reaching for A because it is harder, more out of reach somehow. Maybe you need time to find your way to A. Or maybe you will find a completely different solution (C) from me and that will work for you just fine.

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  9. My first genuine relationship failed spectacularly in an astounding manner around the seven year, so I’ve conveyed this thought for a long while. Presently my second marriage is surrounding the seven years, and for some time, I’ve looked out for the inevitable conclusion. At the point when will she get to be disappointed with me? At the point when will I begin staring off into space about escaping from the relationship? By what means would we be able to keep focused?

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    • I’m sorry you had to go through this. That is an interesting question. And a tough one.
      I think as long as the fundamentals are in place – respect, kindness, looking out for each other, willingness to accept mistakes/problems and work through them, honesty, room for change/growth, the relationship is a good, strong one.

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  10. Nice post. I have come to realize there is really no point on investing effort onto a relationship if it’s not being reciprocated. And no, I have definitely had to work at being assertive!

    Somewhat related, I have been slowly digesting this amazing thread on emotional labour on metafilter. http://www.metafilter.com/151267/Wheres-My-Cut-On-Unpaid-Emotional-Labor. I really recommend reading it, lots of light bulb a-ha moments for me, especially regarding my frustrating relationship with my mom. I think you’ll find it also explains your frustration with your flaky friend.

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  11. Relationships to me are work of responsibility. Being a parent or friend or wife, so is being a son/daughter or being a husband. And Ma’am responsibility is sacrifices. Bigger the role you look for, more you will have to let go of your self. All the points you made, accepted hands down. But I am yet to come across an instance where someone wanted shade and he/she did not bother planting a tree. So are relationships, to me they are long term investments. And they have their returns, only when it’s the right time. If we want the rainbow, we will have to put up with the rain.

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    • “Responsibility is sacrifices” “Bigger the role… more you will have to let go of your self”
      Mostly a nice to believe in myth.
      Every healthy relationship allows for the small missteps and occasional big one. And the missteps are not symmetrical like a pair of dancing partners.

      But, making responsibility default-ly tantamount to sacrifices is wallowing in the false sense of ‘I did good. I sacrificed.’

      “Let go of your self”
      Takes many women decades to realize this is well-meant but wrong advice.

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    • Orthodox, let’s talk about sacrifice – how it is interpreted and in what situations.

      – When parents give up a big part of their time and freedom to be there for their kids, this is not really a sacrifice, it is their responsibility. Parents must consciously CHOOSE to have kids. And having kids means giving up big chunks of time to raise them. This is not a favor to the kids, this is the parents’ job. The problem with calling this a ‘sacrifice’ is it exalts this simple, basic responsibility. It makes what is quite ordinary and required into something noble.

      – Let’s take an extreme situation. A child needs a kidney. Most sane parents would not give a second thought to giving up their kidney to save their child’s life. Is this SACRIFICE? I think this is INSTINCT. Parental protective instincts. We jump in the river to save a drowning child, without thinking. Even those of us who don’t swim very well.

      – Parents and children are not equals. Parents will always do more for their children because they are adults. Children should never be required to pay back for what I see as parental responsibility. They can pay it forward to the following generation.

      – Now, let’s look at an equal relationship – one between adults. Between a husband and wife, or partners, there is no doubt give and take. There are things we want that we give up or modify or postpone because we care for the other or someone else’s needs must be prioritized because a certain situation is time sensitive. AS LONG AS THIS GIVING UP happens on both sides, it is okay. Also, AS LONG AS THIS GIVING UP IS NOT A CONSISTENT PATTERN AND THIS GIVING UP IS COMPENSATED AT A LATER TIME OR IN A DIFFERENT MORE VIABLE FORM – that is a dream that is put on hold is pursued at a later time with the full support and encouragement of the other – then it is okay.

      – Example: I wanted to get an MBA but it seemed impossible – there was too much going on – 2 people with jobs and kids to raise. I put my dream/wish/desire on hold for a few years. When my kids got older, my husband took a sabbatical and became the primary care giver for my kids. So I could go back to school and get my MBA. If he didn’t do that, my giving up something would be one-sided, and I consider that unhealthy both to myself and to our relationship.

      – We also make sure that we preserve our identities. For instance being married may not allow us to go on a trip around the world with no destination in mind. But we make sure our needs are being met in other ways – time for hiking or reading or other interests are built into the routine through careful planning. Thus we are not sacrificing our entire lives and selves to raise our kids. Responsibility should not mean losing our identities.

      I agree with you that all solid, long term relationships require giving up or postponing things – as long as this is reciprocal and as long as giving up doesn’t become a consistent pattern and there is a way to come back and fulfill your dreams at a later time, it is okay. Maybe we are talking about the same thing – that responsibility is required to make a relationship work. Except I don’t like calling responsibility ‘sacrifice’ because it’s not, and it shouldn’t be made into one.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Pingback: An email from the Accused Guy: ‘I would request all to respond once again after reading the other side of it.’ | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  13. Read your blog for the first time, and could feel a great connect with your words….love the way you have expressed.
    I have recently joined this blogging world, trying to learn the art and hope it works for Me as well.

    Like

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