Bright Side

7 Situations When We Need to Turn On Jerkiness to Have a Happy Family


According to scientists, relationships that don’t have care, compromise, and love in them can hardly be called healthy. Still, those features are not the key to happiness. Some people try to behave with their loved ones using all their love and care, but things just get worse. In this case, they should stop being kind and turn on their “jerkiness” mode. What for? We found the answers in publications written by the psychologists Will Meek and Tina Gilbertson.

We at Bright Side have decided to figure out the difference between adequate actions and excessive self-sacrifice by taking the sure signs of a healthy relationship into account.

1. Care vs home slavery

True cooperation and fair allocation of responsibilities is the right type of behavior inside a family. Everyone should take care of a certain part of the family responsibilities and receive appropriate gratitude for them.

However, things can work in a different way. Once you decide to take on more responsibility because you want your loved ones to feel more happy and comfortable, your actions become less valuable to your family members, thus making them even more demanding.

According to psychologists, self-sacrifice brings more harm than benefits to your family. You expect more gratitude for your additional actions and when you don’t get it you become irritated and annoyed. So in turn, your family members hear complaints and reproaches from you but do nothing about it. It’s a vicious cycle!

How can you break the cycle? First, you need to remove the following thoughts from your mind when it comes to simple chores:

  • “They can’t do it without me.”
  • “I’ll do it better and faster.”

Second, remember this rule: “If a person can’t take care of themselves, they’ll never be able to value somebody else’s care.”

Each family member has their own rights. If a person likes dishes prepared under the recipes of the best chefs, they have the right to cook them by themselves. So, you need to step away from the stove and let them do it.

Third, it’s worth reading The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. The novella describes the consequences of overprotection.

2. Support vs responsibility for your partner’s mistakes

The example that you see in the picture above is rather innocent. In most cases, this type of behavior can be stopped by explaining that you love and care for your partner but it’s them who are responsible for their own actions.

However, there are more dramatic situations.

  • “What’s wrong with drinking coffee with my ex? I didn’t pick up my phone because the battery was dead. But it’s all your fault. You shouldn’t have gone on your business trip for 2 weeks.”
  • “You know I can’t control myself when I drink. You should be more conscious next time.”

Here’s a warning from scientists: If you feel responsible for your partner’s nasty actions and support them at the expense of your psychological and physical health, this means that you are in a codependent relationship. And the only thing you can do about it is get out.

3. Altruism vs situations like, “While I help the rest of the world my family will patiently wait.”

It isn’t good if your partner is ready to give away their last cent to their friends, colleagues or charity. Your partner rushes to everyone’s rescue while you have to carry the burden of all your domestic and financial problems. At the same time, if you demand more attention to yourself, you’ll be blamed for hard-heartedness. Your superhero partner has no time for such trifling things.

According to scientists, an altruist’s motivation is not always straight-forward. Many people do good deeds for the sake of recognition and their portion of dopamine, a happy hormone. You need to figure out what exactly makes your partner behave like a superhero.

You also have to be careful about your family budget because your partner can be really generous sometimes. And the more serious the reason for charity, the more unpleasant aftertaste you have. For example, you realize that the medical treatment of the nephew of your partner’s colleague is more important than the purchase of a car for your family. But you still need this car, especially when taking into consideration the fact of how long you’ve saved for it. Alas, you have to make this choice and live with a permanent feeling of guilt.

It’s hard to judge such charity since every case is unique. But you have a full-fledged right to avoid such activities. So, if your partner brings your family into a financial disaster you can say, “no”.

4. Selfless love vs striving for poverty

It may never be a perfect moment for your dreams to come true — that’s why it’s not always wrong to follow your impulses. However, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t assess the risks going along with it. It’s worth becoming alert if your partner doesn’t mind previous bad experiences and resource shortages by saying, “We’ll find a way out!”

You can stop this process of making the same mistakes again and again. Don’t worry, it has nothing to do with greed.

5. Respect for relatives vs living in line with somebody else’s scenario

Sometimes your relatives can penetrate your family space quite rudely so that you can’t squeeze in your own plans or habits because your relatives have already decided everything for you.

What do you need to do? Your relatives won’t be able to penetrate your family’s personal territory if you set strong boundaries. And you have to be ready to say no if they become too persistent.

But you should also realize that by protecting your personal boundaries you have to respect the boundaries of others as well. So, if you don’t want to help your aunt in her garden, you can’t ask for her apples and tomatoes.

6. Striving for education vs ego

Skill development, the change of a job, and foreign language training — all these things are no less important to a person and their family as new markets develop in big companies. And usually such projects require investments.

However, not all family members are ready to put aside their planned purchases or even pleasant trifles for the sake of future profits. But even the person who is looking for further education may feel guilty. For example, they feel that their course is important but they also made a promise to take their kids to the beach. So, what should you do? You can find a cheaper alternative, take your course with the saved money and ask for a promotion at work. If it works out, your kids may have holidays at the beach way more often.

You should also be careful about your health because it’s a top priority. Without good health, you won’t be able to buy all those things at all.

But try to avoid extremes. Your family shouldn’t suffer while you’re looking for the occupation of a lifetime. Be realistic and set certain timeframes.

7. Respecting your partner’s rights vs overindulgence

Some family life events can’t be avoided. When one partner surrenders to take care of them the other has to take the double burden of responsibilities.

  • “I’m tired of renting an apartment. Honey, let’s get a mortgage. Yes, I know we’ll have to cut our expenses.”
  • “Yes, I spent my advanced payment on a manicure. Actually, I thought you’d find a second job. You’re a man after all!”
  • “Oh, the baby is screaming all the time. You say you warned me? Perhaps, you weren’t really specific. You’re a woman, you should take care of the kids. So, it’s all your fault I don’t feel comfortable.”

Your partner shouldn’t implement their rights for freedom, rest, or hobbies at your expense. If you remind your partner about their responsibilities you’ll commit no crime.

Why do we suggest this “jerkiness”?

If you say “no”, expect to deal with anger. Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to avoid. The main thing is that your family should still feel kindness and support from you. And soon they’ll get used to your boundaries and understand why they’re necessary.

In this article, we’ve described how you can avoid self-sacrifice. But every instruction can be complemented with other behaviors. Do you have tips of your own? Share them in the comments below.

Illustrated by Marat Nugumanov for Bright Side