So I was car shopping with my husband down in Alabama. Bobby, the nice car sales guy, casually mentioned his wife while discussing the comfort level of a certain make car. Curious, I asked him how long he’s been married.
“Long enough,” he replied. “So long that I don’t look either way when I cross the street anymore, that’s for sure.”
My husband and I laughed so hard. He didn’t need to go into details. I wondered later if that was his schtick or if he really was that miserable in his relationship with his wife.
A lot of my book is about women living in unfulfilling relationships, some of which are emotionally abusive or at least exploitive. But women aren’t the only ones in this place. Good men with good intentions can find themselves in relationships with women (or same sex partners) where the fulfillment scale of demands and needs is awfully lopsided.
In reading the fictional book Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, there’s a scene where a group of women are waiting for their husbands to appear at a spontaneous group outing. The tension mounts as some of the husbands are no shows or are not responding “appropriately” to the requests of their wives. At one point, the main character expresses frustration at seeing her friends make “dancing monkeys” (her words) of their husbands.
This character’s assertion is that her friends make endless demands on their husbands and, if they don’t ‘”perform,” the wives get upset. The book describes these dancing monkey husbands as having to engage in “pointless tasks, the myriad sacrifices, the endless small surrenders.” I think the term dancing monkeys is harsh and disrespectful, and these men are clearly married to very narcissistic women. Givers and takers attract, and men are no exception to this harsh law of attraction.
Give and take shouldn’t be give, give, give.
Sacrificing for your partner is part of the reciprocation that has to occur in relationships. But men, please ask yourself if your partner is asking too much, too often. Are you starting to feel resentment? Maybe a re-evaluation of your needs and more of a check and balance of boundaries is being called for. A lot of men have a tendency to give, give, give, and then turn away from the relationship when their resentment is too heavy.
Bottom line for Give Away Guys (and Girls): Consistently putting aside one’s needs for others proves difficult, confusing and overwhelming. If you feel depleted, dejected, overwhelmed or dissatisfied in your life, you might be giving it away. Now, I invite you to take the first step to get back what you’ve given away.
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