The Reciprocity of Time and Money

May 30, 2017

Since our son Michael passed away, Mother’s Day is one of those awkward holidays for me. I never really know what I’m suppose to do since I’m no longer a mom.

People like to say things like, “Oh, you’ll always be a mom.” But, how does one be a mom when there’s no one to mother? It’s like being a jockey without a horse or a pilot without a plane.


So, on Mother’s Day, friends and family always seem at a loss for words. My husband wants to do something special for me, and I really have no interest.

It’s not that I’m committed to feeling sorry for myself. It’s just that Mother’s Day, for me, was more about teaching Michael to respect the role and women in general. Mission accomplished, so I’m good with Mother’s Day being just another day. No need to make a big deal out of it. Can we just move on, please?

But, that would be unfair, you see, because I have a husband who loves to give, so it’s important to him that he do something special for me. That he honor my role as a mother. For the sake of mutuality, it’s equally important that I receive his offering.

Here’s why:

This mutual exchange of giving and receiving, often manifested in how we offer up our time and money to those we love, is a form of reciprocity. Reciprocity is vital to how we come to trust and value one another in a relationship.

For me to deny my husband’s desire to do something special for me would be selfish and uncaring, so even though I had no desire to celebrate Mother’s Day, I acquiesced just the same.

Let’s dig a bit deeper into this question of reciprocity.

Reciprocity is one of those rare gifts that we often take for granted. It is the opposite of egocentricity as in, “it’s all about me.” It has to do with a commitment to mutual exchange. It has to do with nurturing our “we” space.

It’s not about keeping score so much as it is a place that naturally exists between two or more people when they come from a place of unconditional love or regard for one another.

In other words, I give because I care about you. You receive because you care about me. A practical way to demonstrate how we care for one another often shows up in the ways we give of our time and money.

Sometimes the exchange of time and money is simple as in I exchange my time for a paycheck. But, other times, reciprocity is far more complex. For example, when I give of my time expecting nothing in return or when I invest my money in something that I may never see come to fruition.

Something more to consider.

If the giving is one sided, the person on the opposite end is often left to feel fractured or disempowered. You will do for me, but why won’t you allow me to do for you? Am I or what I have to offer not good enough?

When we fail to balance our giving with receiving, we actually rob the other person of the joy of giving. We silently alert them to the subtle reality that what they have to offer is not of value. Unreciprocated giving is just another form of taking.

By the same token, if I’m always on the receiving end, I risk falling into a sense of entitlement that is equally debilitating. I am paralyzed by my own limiting beliefs, beliefs that scream that I am not capable or powerful enough to provide or care for myself.

What I offer, or fail to offer up, in terms of my time and money, sends a strong, yet often subtle, message to those around me about who really matters in my world and who doesn’t.

In a relationship that is valued and true, both parties feel as though they’re the lucky one. No one is keeping score because the score doesn’t matter. What matters is that I love you unconditionally and am therefore willing to offer up what I have. I don’t expect remuneration or fair exchange because the exchange is implicit in everything we do and are to one another.

At the core of who we are, we can only give when we are authentically whole enough to do so. If any part of my spirit is broken or fractured, I will try to fill that hole with a co-dependent need to either give or withhold too much:

It’s the friend who does for everyone but won’t allow help to flow her way. The father who has to commandeer everyone’s agenda moment-to-moment while on vacation. The parent who ignores her own children during breakfast as she flips through the latest FaceBook posts.

Most of us, at one time or another, have been guilty of shutting down the opportunity for mutual exchange. Such reciprocity requires intentionality and commitment, a deep and profound awareness of the choices we’re making each and every day as we make decisions about how to access, utilize, and distribute our resources of time and money.

Pay attention to your moment-to-moment choices with respect to time and money, and watch what opens up for you. You may be surprised to discover that there’s room to wake up to greater reciprocity in your life.

Reflective Question:

Who in your life would benefit most from your intention to effect reciprocity? What is required of you to open that door?

If you want to learn more about how your experience of money is impacting your potential for health and well-being and greater success in your life, Sharon’s book, The Pursuit of Time and Money: Step Into Radical Abundance and Discover the Secret to a Meaningful Prosperous Life, is available for pre-order now.

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