A relationship should, at least in theory, have more or less equal involvement and effort from both partners. However, we know that “what it should be” is seldom the reality.
It is very common for people who really want to save their relationship or marriage to appear in my office. Partners who are definitely willing to negotiate and solve the problems with their other half, in their microcosm. However, many times after a few failed negotiation attempts and seeing themselves at risk of losing their difficult partner, they begin to simply accept inequality in the invisible (but extremely important) balance of the relationship.
The truth is that the acceptance of inequality, even though done with good intentions, will end up lowering the possibility of survival of the relationship. It is very common for resentment to grow within the person who wants to save the relationship at all costs. As much as the person tells themselves that they accept what is happening, their mind gradually keeps a tab on everything they are conceding. We can consciously accept the situation and try to rationalize it as being “for the couple’s future”, but something deep in our mind cries out for justice. And little by little, small passive-aggressive acts, small tantrums, even emotional breakdowns start to appear here and there. The smiles start to turn sour. Indifference starts to show in the lonely partner’s eyes. For a partner who never wanted to negotiate to begin with, this is usually seen as more ammunition for injustice.
The truth is that accepting everything for temporary peace is no use. You are enabling the behavior of a partner who does not see your side, and you are also slowly destroying the relationship with the (justifiable) anger that brews inside you. The partner who does not want to negotiate is even more comfortable with the situation because you have stopped fighting for balance. Thus, being silent for the sake of the relationship becomes a cycle, which only increases in toxicity. You are not enjoying the situation and clamming up to save a relationship that, without conversation, will not improve. So think ask yourself these questions: for how long are you going to be able to keep quiet? Why are you not voicing your needs? What is the real gain from all of this?
Of course, nothing prevents a partner from finally understanding you and reconciling. Sometimes it takes time and millions of baby steps, and often even couples therapy is necessary. But what about the cases that are not successful? The cases when everything possible has already been tried, but nothing has improved?
Maybe it’s time for you to ask yourself:
If there was a balance, which is exactly what you are looking for, would your partner still be interested in being with you? Are they still in the relationship because they are the person with all the benefits? And what if that’s the case? Do you want to be in a relationship with a person who doesn’t respect you?
And, if you’re in a relationship with someone who doesn’t respect you, why do you stay? Why do you stay, even though you know that nothing will improve, and that nothing will be equal in the relationship? Why do you stay, knowing that the frustration is not temporary, and that you are trying to accept injustice as a new way of life? Is there a fear of loneliness? Fear of trying again, with a new person? Or is it a pattern of unhappy relationships created throughout childhood that makes you stay, trying to change it? Of course, these questions can and should be addressed in therapy.
Remember that a healthy relationship means two people who like each other and want the best of each other. They want to bring happiness to each other. When a partner sees that you are unhappy and that the relationship is unfair but they are comfortable with the situation, is that the relationship you deserve? A one-way relationship? Where’s your value in all of this?