Today’s post will be short and sweet. I tried elaborating, but the fluff detracted from the simplicity of this life-changing relationship rule. It’s a rule we learned from our friends Carlo & Sarah, and we’ve followed it since the early days of dating.
Are you ready?
Here it is. . .
Don’t offer anything you don’t want to give.
It seems overly simple, doesn’t it? And luckily, it is simple – but with very big impacts.
So here’s how it works: Ken and I never offer anything if we’ll be upset if the other person accepts.
If we’re both sitting down at dinner, and I offer to get up to get him seconds and he accepts my offer, I’m not secretly annoyed that he didn’t insist on doing it himself – I just cooked the whole dinner for crying out loud! Nope. If I have an early flight, he offers to drive me, and I accept his offer, he’s not going to feel like I was inconsiderate by not Ubering – I can sleep on the plane, while he has to go straight to a long day of work! Not okay.
We offered; the other person is welcome to accept.
Now, does that mean that we only do things that we want to do for the other person, and we never do anything we don’t want to do? No, of course not. I’m not giving you a pass to be selfish in marriage. There are plenty of times when one of us asks the other person to do something that isn’t their preference (“Can you take out the trash, please?”). Shoot – we’ll even offer something that might not be our favorite (“Do you want me to cook sausage this week?”), but the point is that if we offer, that means we’re happy with an acceptance.
There won’t be any grumbling or resentment in carrying out whatever we offered.
The magic in this rule is you don’t need to worry about alternative motives. If Ken offers something to me, I’m totally free to accept that offer! If I offer something to Ken, I’m not anxious in waiting for his reply or disappointed if it’s in the affirmative.
Our offers come from love, not manipulation; our acceptances come with gratitude, not guilt!
I invite you to try out this relationship rule in your own lives – regardless of if you’re married!
Ken and I use it way beyond just our marriage, and it makes life so much more enjoyable. True, it can lead to some awkward moments when we don’t offer something that someone is hinting at, but who cares! I’d much rather be able to be generous when I’m able and willing to be, than seem generous and then secretly be resentful. (Check out The Best Yes if you find yourself offering or accepting over your capacity!)
So if we offer to have you over for dinner or to drive you to the airport – don’t feel like you’re inconveniencing us by taking us up on our offer. We really are happy to do it!
I hope that by adopting this rule in your own lives, your loved ones can accept your offers with gratitude, not guilt.
Oh, what joy comes in that kind of give and take relationship!
Would you say you’re pretty good at only offering what you’re willing to give? What are your experiences with it?
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