It’s easy to fall into the habit of buying affection, but there are better ways to make your relationships run smoothly. These are some basic guidelines for relating to others in a healthier way so your inner qualities speak more loudly than your bank account.
You’ll also find suggestions for applying these principles in some of the stickiest situations, like those involving romance and parenting.
Basic Guidelines for Overcoming the Urge to Buy Affection
Let people invest in you. Common sense and clinical studies show that people value each other more when they put their own time and resources into building a connection. Allow for give and take.
Identify what you may be compensating for. It can be tempting to give your kids an expensive phone because you feel guilty about missing too many soccer practices. Ask yourself if you’re using money to substitute for time and emotions.
Examine control issues. Some people equate power with money. Positive and respectful interactions reduce the dangers of feeling obligated or manipulated.
Review your conditioning. The way we’re brought up has a big impact on our lives. Spotting patterns like excessive spending is the first step in changing them.
Suggestions for Your Romantic Life
Take turns treating each other. You may be one of those people who always reach for the dinner bill. Try giving your date the chance to play host on some of your evenings out.
Accept gifts and favors. Learn to accept the kindness of others graciously. Giving feels good, so feel happy about the pleasure they will enjoy.
Aim for equity. Be flexible if you and your partner have different financial capacities. Maybe one of you can spring for gourmet restaurants and the other can fix your cars for free.
Set limits. Generosity is an endearing quality. Just ensure that you give for wholesome reasons and that your partner appreciates you.
Get off to a good start. Naturally, it’s easiest if you start out treating each other fairly. Otherwise, you may need to have a heart to heart talk or recognize when it’s time to move on.
Suggestions for Parenting
Spend more time with your family. Your time is the most valuable thing you can share with your family. Make family dinners and bed time stories a top priority.
Discuss any major changes. If you’re putting the brakes on lavish spending, let your kids know why. Reassure them of your love and make it an opportunity to teach more important values.
Encourage free activities. You can have a good time anywhere. Check out community calendars for free concerts and street fairs. Pitch a tent and camp out in your own backyard.
Get more philanthropic. Many organizations offer family activities that will allow you to volunteer as a group. Bond together while you clean up your local park and show your kids how good it feels to help others.
Coordinate gift giving with other family members. If you’re divorced, you may be especially vulnerable to using money as a way to mitigate the disruptions that occur in your children’s lives. Talk with your ex-spouse so you can take a united approach.
You deserve to be valued for who you are. It’s delightful to exchange gifts and favors with those you love, but set healthy limits. In the long run, you’ll strengthen your connections and enable everyone to share in the joy of giving.