I meet with many clients for individual counseling, family or couples counseling who have difficulty in their relationships. One thing that often comes up is the role of give and take (I prefer to call it giving and receiving) in relationships. Some clients struggle with giving; selfishness comes easy to us humans and we often want it all and now! In those relationships, clients learn to give more, be more available, create space for the other in their relationship to enter, actively listen to the other and sacrifice their wants at times for the desires of the other in the relationship. However many clients I see give too much; they receive very little from the other in their relationship. They are always sacrificing, giving, listening, yielding to the desires of the other. In those cases, we work on clients becoming more comfortable with being vulnerable, assertive, asking for their desires and sharing about themselves. As with most things, a healthy balance is best. We do need to be giving and sacrificing in our relationships; as Christians we are called to that kind of love and sacrifice. However, a healthy relationship also allows us to receive love from others, receive their sacrifices of love for us in order to have a balanced relationship; to love and be loved, to know and be known, that is a healthy relational goal. This is a delicate dance but one that is rewarding to figure out in your relationships. Dialogue with your friends, family or significant other about the ways you see yourselves giving and receiving in the relationships. We can learn so much from those kind of intentional discussions. Do you like the amount of giving and receiving you are experiencing? Do they? Are their things you think your relationship could benefit from changing? Does one person need to practice giving more and the other receiving more? Changing roles and patterns in relationships is difficult and takes time. Be patient with yourselves and with each other as you attempt small changes! The end result is so worth it!