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Couples in healthy relationships give freely to one another -- not because they feel they owe anything, but out of consideration and fondness.
There's a big difference, though, between giving freely and becoming a doormat or codependent. Giving freely means you have enough -- time, energy, money -- for yourself and some to spare for your partner.
The flip side to this is receiving freely. That means you can set boundaries on what gifts you do and do not wish to accept. If you're building a bookcase, and your partner wants to help, you're free to say "no, thank you, I'd rather do it myself." If a gift is freely given and freely received, no one needs to feel guilt or resentment.
Freely giving and receiving means "keeping short accounts," dealing with issues within a reasonable time. If you're no longer comfortable with supporting your partner's drunken nights out with friends, start a conversation rather than letting anger fester.
It takes strength and honesty to say "I'm sorry, that won't work for me" or "Thank you, but I'd really rather you didn't." Drawing these boundaries gives you both the comfort of knowing that gifts given are really gifts, with no strings or expectations attached.
|Sheri Ann Richerson|