In my early marriage when things were terribly out of balance, I was seething with resentment about my husband not doing enough chores and not making enough money, which left me with the heavy burden of having to make up for him in both areas.
I had to control the finances since we were always so close to the edge and I knew he wouldn’t be able to handle it.
It was very stressful and lonely to feel so out of balance, but I didn’t see any way out.
Maybe you’ve been there too.
Fortunately, I learned a practice that completely changed all that.
Today my relationship feels much more balanced. Far from doing everything around here, I feel well taken care of and even spoiled! It may even be out of balance the other way, with him doing practically everything and me just coasting along.
And I’m married to the same guy, so go figure.
One big change I made was learning to be a gracious receiver, even when I felt afraid I wouldn’t get what I wanted if I acted happy with what was being offered.
I was wrong about that.
A comparative religion student once told me that every object has yin and yang, or female and male aspects, to it.
With a coffee cup, the yang, or masculine, is the ceramic part, the structure of the cup. The yin, the feminine, is the part that can receive coffee. Without the part that can receive coffee, the yang has no purpose.
I love that metaphor, which I see at work in my marriage everyday.
If I don’t receive, I interfere with my husband’s purpose. When I do receive from him, we both feel happier and our relationship has balance.
Here are five ways that you can experiment with being a better receiver so that you can also feel more taken care of and bring your relationship into balance.
1. Receive Help Graciously
One thing to experiment with is receiving his help, even if you feel it’s really your job to clean the kitchen. Maybe he doesn’t vacuum the way you like, but it’s still less vacuuming for you if you accept his help.
If you’re not getting all the self-care you want because you don’t receive his help with the kids, how would it be to carve out some time alone and trust him to feed, bathe and care for them while you’re gone?
One time my husband, who hates watermelon, offered to finish cutting a huge watermelon for me because I got tired of cutting it. So I sat and watched and ate watermelon while he cut it, put it away and cleaned up. I was so grateful and appreciative, and he felt like my hero because he was!
So it was a win-win. Talk about having a great balance.
2. Receive Compliments Graciously
If you’re anything like I was, you may be rejecting your husband’s compliments by arguing with him when he says you’re beautiful when you first wake up. Or contradicting him when he says your cooking was delicious.
That throws the relationship out of balance, in my experience.
Consider saying only “thank you” instead.
3. Receive Gifts Graciously
Have you ever complained that flowers are expensive and a waste of money because they die so fast? Or returned the present he got you?
That’s what I used to do too!
Consider allowing him to buy you gifts and receiving the thoughtfulness and tenderness in them even if they’re not exactly what you had in mind.
4. Receive Special Treatment Graciously
One coach, who has become a wonderful receiver after starting out with a marriage that was woefully out of balance, described how her husband makes the bed for her every night before she gets in it because he knows she loves a freshly made bed. And they are both so happy he does!
Another one says her husband kisses her all over every morning while singing, “Good morning, I love you, good morning, I love you.”
They are both letting their husbands give them special treatment.
You could also experiment with letting him get the car in the rain or giving you his jacket when you’re cold instead of saying, “Oh no, I’ll be fine.”
5. Receive Apologies Graciously
If you’re in the habit, like I was, of saying “That’s okay” when someone apologizes, consider instead receiving apologies with a heartfelt “thank you” also.
Since receptivity is the essence of femininity and femininity is what men are fundamentally attracted to, restoring balance in your marriage by becoming more receptive also has the side effect of making you more attractive and irresistible.
It may not always feel comfortable to receive graciously, but in my experience, things will get as good as you can stand when you do.
Now that you know more about receiving help, compliments, special treatment and apologies graciously, where would you like to stretch in your receiving?