It is often said that relationships are all about give and take. Being on the side that gives can feel good, in that, you get to explore the generosity of your own personality in the way you interact with your significant other. On the flipside, you are going to want to be on the taking end eventually.
However, there are many instances when one spouse finds themselves on the taking end a majority of the time and the other ends up on the giving end a majority of the time.
Taken for granted
Research has shown that after three and a half years of marriage, couples begin exhibiting this level of complacency within their relationship, creating bad habits under the assumption that you’ll always be together.
This is less than ideal and can lead to the notion that one spouse takes another spouse for granted, leaving the marriage itself in hot water.
From a psychological perspective, taking a spouse for granted often gets compared to being a child of wealthy parents, according to Psychology Today. How can one be expected to experience appreciation for all of the advantages that circumstances have led you to accept as something one is simple “due?”
Lack of reciprocity
One element that makes a person thrive in a marriage is reciprocity. Many find that physical or emotional intimacy needs automatically being met can incline a spouse to become oblivious of the obligation itself, leaving the spouse to become less likely to acknowledge or reciprocate.
This can be due to the self-esteem of one spouse taking advantage of the other spouse, damaging their self-respect and positive self-regard. They may begin to view themselves as less worthy of the reciprocity that a healthy marriage should entail, and once they realize their own unhappiness and the dysfunction that exists within their own relationship, it can leave the marriage itself on the ropes.
With the possibility of divorce on the horizon, many spouses will look to change course and begin addressing the shortcomings that have fallen into the relationship, recognizing the positives and the benefits of the union. However, if it is only one spouse doing this assessment, it can leave the situation further divided.
The dangers of vulnerability
Even after divorce is decided upon, this type of sentiment between a couple can translate into the process of ending the union. When assets are being divided, the spouses will meet with their attorneys and have a plan in mind. Like during the process of mediation, they may have a set list of things that they would be willing to give up, as well as a list of things that they would want to keep.
They may try to informally meet to try and iron some of these issues out, as they begin to separate their lives. This can sometimes be where the pattern of taking a spouse for granted continues, even as the process of divorce is underway.
Many times, spouses will disagree on who gets what, as they vie for the same items. One spouse may find themselves attempting a display of compassion, in order to help bridge the gap during future negotiations. This type of action can result in being continuously taken for granted.
The olive branch of peace can easily be misinterpreted as weakness, giving opposing parties the opportunity to form their argument around the assumptions that this type of compromise may create.
For example, you may agree to a sum in child support, hoping that it would breed the good will necessary to form an agreement on joint custody and equal parenting time. However, the opposing party still may seek primary custody, leaving you with only visitation every other weekend. This is why it is important to remain vigilant during the divorce experience.
After the divorce is finalized, an ex-spouse still can have the ability of taking you for granted, if you are not vigilant. From a financial perspective, it is important to change the beneficiaries of trusts, wills, and life insurance policies. Because of how many list their spouse as the primary benefactor, it can cause problems if the change was never made, according to Accounting Today.
If the change is not made, the divorce decree does not specifically state what happens to the accounts involved, and anything happens to you, your ex-spouse could have control of the assets entailed.
Protecting yourself is important, both on a financial level and an emotional one. It is so easy to fall back into the old habits that bred the dysfunctional behavior that an old relationship can entail, but it is important to think more of yourself and not allowing that to occur.
Whether you are divorcing or simply ending a relationship, the best thing to do for your long-term future is to not seek co-dependent relationships that breed the type of dysfunction and lack of reciprocity that your previous one did.
Dan Pearce is an Online Editor for Lexicon, focusing on subjects related to the legal services of customers, Cordell & Cordell and Cordell Planning Partners. He has written countless pieces on MensDivorce.com, detailing the plight of men and fathers going through the divorce experience, as well as the issues seniors and their families experience throughout the estate planning journey on ElderCareLaw.com. Mr. Pearce has managed websites and helped create content, such as the Men’s Divorce Newsletter and the YouTube series, “Men’s Divorce Countdown.” He also has been a contributor on both the Men’s Divorce Podcast and ElderTalk with TuckerAllen.
Mr. Pearce assisted in fostering a Cordell Planning Partners practice area specific for Veterans, as they deal with the intricacies of their benefits while planning for the future. He also helped create the Cordell Planning Partners Resource Guide and the Cordell Planning Partners Guide to Alternative Residence Options, specific for seniors with questions regarding their needs and living arrangements.