Aug 232016 7 Responses

Are You Being Used and Not Loved?

Everybody likes the benefits. Workers like paid vacation. School children love recess. Returning customers enjoy a 10% discount.

Relationships are full of benefits. It’s a comfort to know someone always has my back, is on my side, and sees me eye-to-eye. Some of the first benefits of a new relationship is the comfort in knowing you always have a date for Friday night, but as a relationship matures, so do the benefits.

Some of my favorite benefits are:

  • sharing all of life with another
  • having someone who knows me better than any other and loves me anyway
  • knowing I’m not alone in raising our children
  • having someone to encourage me when I’m down
  • two-incomes but shared expenses
  • sex
  • diversity of strengths

A healthy marriage has a variety of benefits. (See: A Healthy Marriage Makes You Smarter)

But those benefits must be wedded to responsibilities.

Responsibilities of Relationships

Relationships come with inherent responsibilities. Things are demanded of us. Expectations are placed upon us. There are things we must do (and refrain from doing) in order for the relationship to thrive.

Some common relational responsibilities are:

  • spending quality time with one another
  • sharing in household chores
  • playing a role in adding to the financial resources (either by earning money or supporting the one who does)
  • fidelity
  • making ourselves physically and emotionally present to our spouse
  • being an equal partner in raising children
  • showing respect to one another

Some responsibilities come and go throughout the differing seasons of marriage while others are always present. Yet in every season there are certain things which an individual must do to make the relationship healthy. (See: Marry a Partner, Not a Child)

Benefits Without Responsibilities

Relationships fail when an individual or couple tries to enjoy the benefits of the relationship while avoiding the responsibilities.

It’s true of a man who wants sex without commitment.

It’s true of a woman who wants financial security without financial discipline.

It’s true of couples who want peace without the courage to have difficult conversations.

Everyone would take the benefits without the responsibilities if it were possible, but a healthy relationship cannot exist without both. The benefits of the relationship must be intertwined with the responsibilities.

Where only benefits exist, trust is eroded. A spouse feels isolated, alone, and taken advantage of.

Where only responsibilities exist, hope is dashed. A spouse feels disappointed, empty, and used.

But where both are present, each spouse feels valued, loved, and important.

Friends With Benefits

Humanity has long attempted to experience benefits without responsibilities. It was true centuries ago in polygamous cultures where men desired the benefits of sexual freedom without the responsibility of commitment to one person. It’s true in today’s society where friends try to enjoy the sexual benefits of a relationship without the responsibility of loving one another.

But the two should not be split. Benefits should always be wedded to responsibilities. It’s the joining together of the two which allows a relationship to flourish. When we attempt to have one without the other, we are stripping a relationship of the foundation it needs to succeed.  When we embrace both–accepting what is expected of us and finding gratitude for what is given to us–we come alive.

Sadly, many people–especially women–assume if they give the benefits of the relationships to a partner, eventually the partner will accept the responsibilities. They rarely do. Why would someone suddenly take on the all the responsibilities of something if they have already experienced the benefits for free? (See: One Habit that Starves Your Marriage)

If you are willing to sacrifice for me without me ever sacrificing for you, why would I suddenly start putting your needs above mine?

If you are willing to reveal yourself totally to me–body, soul, and mind–without any commitment from me, why would I suddenly decide to commit to you?

If I already experience all the benefits of marriage without a lifetime commitment, the financial responsibility, and the legal ramifications of marriage, why would I suddenly ask you to marry me?

Some benefits have to be withheld until a partner is fully willing to embrace the responsibilities of marriage. If they aren’t, the relationship will probably never move forward.

Two Questions for Consideration

Am I attempting to enjoy the benefits of a relationship without experiencing the responsibilities? If I am, I’m cheating the other person and using them as an object rather than loving them like a person and they deserve better.

Am I giving someone the full benefits of a relationship while excusing them from the responsibilities? If I am, I’m allowing myself to be used rather than loved and I deserve better.

 

7 Responses to Are You Being Used and Not Loved?
  1. Tracy Sult Reply

    Wow, how insightful. A man I was in love with ended our relationship abruptly. He professed to be in love with me too and stated on many occasions that he was going to spend the rest of his life with me. In my heart, we were married as I was fully committed to him. However, I was sacrificing for him without him reciprocating and he was experiencing all the benefits without the responsibility. While the break-up hurt, it still does, I know he did me a favor. I learn more all the time and with prayer, I won’t make this mistake again.

  2. Michelle Reply

    I did not get married for love. I was a wounded young adult, an older man with persistence and parents that I felt sold me out as I sold myself out. I was too young and too wounded to marry. After I married, I relocated away from home and cried. No one showed up to assist. Marriage incorrectly done becomes a prison sentence. Growing up Catholic, we were guilted not to divorce. 31 years married, no children, broken promises and each time I get on my feet, I am hit broad side by my marriage only to fall again Today, my physician, my counselor and my estate attorney want me to divorce. And do what? Go where? I have no family anywhere. This marriage has made me 31 years insecure. I stand at a horrible place in life. Making friends as a midlife retired. adult is very difficult. Who needs friends when there are adults children and work mates already established. I hang out with 70-89 years old that want companionship but not necessarily friendship. Huge difference. I am a servant that seldom is served. Midlife truly is lousy for many married couples now what?

    Married 31 years, moved away from home and no support. It’s been a confusing, chaotic marriage. I am exhausted, failed to achieve my dreams, and at 57 yrs old, I don’t desire to go to back to work for health benefits. I have the money. To divorce, my portion of the estate will be sacrificed to a man that was not a husband. I saved all his money since we were a one income famiky. His design, now I see his intent to control. The marriage is abusive so what abuse line determines immediate separation and divorce.

    My state divorce laws favors men; as a woman I am being told to research the state to divorce. For most women,financial status is serioysly diminished after divorce. I stayed in the marruage, worked hard, only one in counseling and I have lost some dynamic skills and gifts because of a parent-child relationship that confuses me to no end. One minute husband is parent and next a kid. Control and censure exist where love dies not. How do I correctly divorce? Only health insurance benefits and the fact my portion of the estate are keeping in this relationship. Oh, my confidence, my voice, and my support How can we send topic ideas to you? For example, how to motivate teenagers to volunteer on church campus? I feel adults are catering to kids that see all wirk especially physical work as grunt work so it’s beneath them. On campus, youth director and parebts seems to support no grunt work policy. Yet, I am 57 yrs old doing a great deal of grunt work on campus. Parents having same ‘no work’ issues. School homework has now replace physical job time. Jobs teens used to fulfill are now advertising help wanted. High percent of teens in my area do not work and it’s reflected on church campus.

    • Jenna Reply

      Michelle my heart hurts to read about what you are going through. I get the feeling that you do too much for other people and then you feel used and undervalued. I have gone through a lot of what you mentioned. Here are some resources that helped:

      Andy Stanley’s “What Happy Couples Know.” Saved my marriage. If you google it, it will come right up. Ask him to watch it with you. 🙂

      The book “Codependent No More.” Really really helped me.

      These sermons by TD Jakes, which are on YouTube:

      “Whatever you lost, God is going to give it back to you!”
      “Be careful of those who say they love you yet determined to stay at conflict with you”
      “An empty seat is far better than having a wrong person sitting on it”

      I have a friend in her 50s who has a hard time with making friends too. Well actually she seems to be friends with the whole neighborhood but we are all busy with our jobs and kids and that bums her out. But she does have a nice thing she says, which is that it helps to ask, “Would I want to be married to me? Would I want to be friends with me? Would I want to work with me?”
      So that has helped me a lot in my relationships. But anyway, listen you don’t have to do something for someone in order to add value to someone’s life. YOU are valuable. YOU are enough.

      I hope that you will find some joy in your life Michelle. It is not your age making you feel old, it is your bad marriage. You have a lot of life left to live.

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