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6 Areas of Relationship Asymmetry

Suggestions for sexual, career, neediness, and other imbalances.

Mohamed Hassan, Pixabay, Public Domain
Source: Mohamed Hassan, Pixabay, Public Domain

In a recent post, I offered four options for dealing with an asymmetrical relationship. But the advice was generic across all types of asymmetries. Here are thoughts regarding specific ones:

Sexual desire. Only occasionally have my clients improved by following the standard advice such as communicate your preferences, hang out in bed, and plan date nights. Certainly you might try those, using an experimental, playful mindset: And sometimes, a relationship or sex therapist can help further.

But if reasonable efforts to cope with the problem are insufficient, it may be wise to accept your sexual asymmetry as one of your relationship's liabilities—every relationship has them—and redirect at least some of your would-be-sexual time to activities that work better for the two of you, whether sports, cooking, TV watching, getting together with friends, whatever.

Career. If one partner has a more prestigious or lucrative job, there can be resentment, defensiveness, and even retribution. It may help to remember that career, while an important currency, is only one. Other valuable currencies include, for example, ethics, kindness, and diligent effort on domestic matters from parenting to marketing.

Work ethic. It may be realistic to expect only incremental improvement. To that end, consider talking with your partner to identify one key area that the less work-oriented partner would try. Pick something important that s/he wouldn't find odious.

Neediness. If you're asked to give disproportionately to your partner, is it realistic to try to change your mindset from resenting the imposition to finding the joy in giving? Whether or not that's realistic for you, consider asking your partner if someone else might at least partially fill the need.

Materialism. You might start by asking why you or your partner spends so much: Boredom? Filling an emotional hole? Addiction to the evanescent shopper’s high? With any such insight in tow, might there be room for compromise, for example, one category of spending that might be curtailed, for example, non-essential Internet impulse buying? It may help to review your credit card bill or check register.

Religiosity. Billions of people find that religion adds meaning to their quotidian existence and can be a balm against life’s slings and arrows A kind person, even if an atheist, wouldn't attempt to disabuse someone of their faith. If you're the less religious partner, before discussing the asymmetry, remind yourself to be respectful and not try to make your partner surrender their faith. Lest you think I'm a religious person with a pro-faith bias, I might mention that I'm an atheist.

The issue can be especially challenging with children—they are particularly vulnerable to being influenced at this stage in life. Should your child have religious training? There’s no black-and-white here, only a suggestion that you both try to be statesmanlike. For example, one might say, "You and I differ on religion's value. We could send our child to Sunday school but allow me to balance its pro-religion message with respectful presentation of my belief in secular humanism. Or we can forgo Sunday school and you can share your religious and spiritual perspectives with our child. What do you think?"

The takeaway

Of course, these are just six possible symmetries. Others include, for example, desire for children, family ties, and travel. All relationships have asymmetries and attempting to resolve them and accept the ones you can't are key to making a relationship that isn't made in heaven work here on Earth.

I read this aloud on YouTube.