Give and take

Joey Garcia

I have a buddy who met a gal who was already pregnant by another man. My friend fell hard for her, married her and made the child his own. He says he’s happy but friends (like me) think she takes advantage of him. While they were dating, she was always bossing him around and now that they’re married, it’s worse. He’s a generous guy, one who would give you his last shirt right off his back. She takes it and always seems to want more: time, attention, money, fix-it skills, help with errands, whatever. She doesn’t do anything for him. I’ve seen this kind of relationship far too often. My buddy seems OK with it, but I wonder: Why don’t givers ever end up with givers? Do opposites attract? Wouldn’t a relationship be smoother if it was made up of two people who were open and available to give freely to each other?

If you quizzed your buddy and his wife, they would likely say that their relationship is smooth. He’s open to giving her what she says she needs and she is available to receive it. Many people who enjoy giving to others are rebuffed because the receiver fears that the gift (of a helping hand, money, a compliment, whatever) means they are incompetent or that they will be obligated to return a yet-to-be-named favor in the future. In other words, your buddy’s wife is fulfilling a need in him by giving her husband an opportunity to give. It’s a give-give situation.

Now, here’s what I’m curious about: If your buddy is happy, why aren’t you happy for him? His relationship probably rubs you ripe because you believe someone took advantage of you in the past. Regret about giving too much means you need to assess your own boundaries. It doesn’t mean that the person you chose to give to behaved like a dog. Comprende? And anyone who gives the last shirt owned right off his or her body is either remiss in self-care or highly spiritually evolved. The problem is that many people who are remiss in self-care want us to believe they are actually highly spiritually evolved. But since this is your description of your buddy, not his description of himself, I think you believe that giving ’till it hurts is the right way to live. Remember, if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t care well for others.

Let’s talk about the magnet thing. We attract our opposite when we are unconsciously working through an emotional or mental blockage of junk from our past. The relationship acts as an external force that continually presents our old wounds and weaknesses for healing. These are the magnet relationships that are often in turmoil. Opposites can also snap together like they were made for each other. If an introvert and extrovert, who are comfortable being themselves, meet and couple up, it’s, well, magnetic, because each happily holds a piece of the other. The introvert lives vicariously through the extrovert and vice versa. So neither is interested in getting their partner to change because they recognize that together they are stronger. And that’s, um, an attractive way to live.

I’m tired of working and want to retire now. I want to paint and travel, but don’t have time because of my job. And, realistically, I can’t afford to retire for 10 more years. Any advice?

“Retirement forces you to stop thinking that it’s your job that holds you back,” says Philip Greenspun, a consultant on retirement. “For most people, the depressing truth is that they are not organized, disciplined or motivated.” My suggestion? Don’t postpone your pleasure. Live your best life now.

Meditation of the week
“Home is where, when you go there, they have to take you in,” wrote Robert Frost. Consider that wisdom when making plans for the holidays. Who really takes you into their heart and holds you in their soul, even when you’re behaving badly (as we all do sometimes)? Find the place that you belong and let yourself love being there.

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