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Give and Take

by Anastasia Strgar

My mother always told me that what people give to a relationship is never even. It is all in direct proportion to what each partner puts in their own box and that it never looks exactly as it should or comes exactly at the same time. Relationships are all about compromising and about breaking down expectations based on pre-conditioned responses.

Recently, my boyfriend and I have moved in together. And while it’s all going rather well, we’re still at that stage where we’re both trying to figure out how much we can give financially to different aspects of our daily living. The other day, I went grocery shopping when I discovered we were nearly out of food. Normally, this is something I do and don’t really think about, but whether it was because I was on my period or because a niggling voice in the back of my head told me that in our typical relationship of equals, I shouldn’t be responsible for paying for all the groceries, I kept feeling like I had to say something.

As I was struggling with how to say this (as a Libra I hate to create conflict), my boyfriend came home with a ton of stuff for our new house with the simple words: “I got a bunch of this stuff because I knew we needed it.”

Immediately, I felt the tension about what I had thought was the issue drop. Maybe it was because I knew he had gone out of his way to get those supplies or it was because of his thoughtfulness or because the groceries just didn’t really matter in the long run, but all the stories playing out in my mind just fell away to be replaced with the realization that my mom was right: There is never absolute equality in a relationship- both people give in different ways and at times one partner gives more than another, but that in a healthy relationship it all evens out over time.

So how do you figure out how to split things up? Well, first off,  being able to communicate effectively on a daily basis is essential, as is being incredibly attune with yourself. If you know what you need from your partner and for yourself on a moment to moment basis, you can avoid unnecessary conflicts by bringing things up at the moment. Finally, know your limits and your partner’s limits- whether they’re financial, psychological, physical, whatever, respecting both your limits and your partners’ limits will help you both be able to own what you can do or what you need at any given moment.

These are elements of a relationship of “equals”- giving when you can give and receiving as often as possible.

Anastasia Strgar, a recent graduate from the University of Oregon with a B.A  in journalism, has been writing about love and relationships for several years. She has written short stories and romance novels, penned the love and sex column  in the  school newspaper and wrote several blogs. As the eldest of founder Wendy Strgar’s four children, she has been inspired by watching her parents’ marriage and strives to put those lessons to use in her own relationship. She believes that teaching her peers early on about how to maintain healthy relationships  is essential to creating a future generation of loving partnerships. She currently works as the Director of Public Relations and Magazine Editor at Good Clean Love.