A transactional relationship is an interesting term. The first thing that came to mind is something like an arranged marriage or selling off your daughter to gain favors for the family.
A transactional relationship is when couples treat marriage as a business deal. Kind of like someone brings home the bacon, and the other partner cooks it, sets the table, wash the dishes, while the breadwinner watches football.
Traditional gender roles are excellent examples of transactional relationships.
Difference between a transactional and any other marriage?
What is a transactional relationship in the first place, and why are new-age love guru’s trying to demonize the relationship millions of old couples had without divorcing.
In any business deal, a transactional relationship is focused on benefits. Generally, the people inside the partnership are thinking what the hell am I getting out of this.
So let’s compare transactional relationship characteristics.
Focus on Self-benefits
Positive and Negative reinforcement
Expectations and Judgement
Partners compete against each other
Transactional relationships are more of a frenemy than an alliance.
Couples in transactional relationships give and take, but they care about getting more than what they bargained for. True marriages don’t care about those things.
Transactional vs. relational
A true partnership is one unit. Spouses are not against each other; they are considered as one entity by God and State. True couples don’t care what they give to their partners; in fact, true couples enjoy giving to their partners.
There’s also the problem of people changing once they are in a relationship. It is what makes things so complicated.
So how does one deal with giving to their partner without them taking advantage of their benevolence?
Transactional relationships are more or less symbiotic and fair. There are forms of relationships that are more like slavery than a partnership.
Transactional relationships are at least on the side of a “healthy” form of relationship. It is not ideal, which is why it is receiving some flak from modern love theorists.
But a give-and-take relationship with sex sounds closer to prostitution than a marriage. That’s the main issue with transactional relationships.
True marriages are about going through everything together as one entity. There’s no giving and taking.
You and your partner are the same; taking from your partner is the same as taking something from your pocket.
Giving to your partner is no different than investing in yourself. It’s more like giving your partner sexy lingerie or viagra.
To keep things simple, a transactional personality is someone who never acts (positively or negatively) if there’s nothing to gain.
It sounds like common-sense unless you think about all the charity and bullying that goes all over the world.
A lot of things in this world are done on a whim or do not follow the usual logic and common sense — things such as infanticide, genocide, and non-alcoholic beer.
A person with transactional behavior will only give if they can take. They apply this to all their relationships, including their romantic partner.
A transactional romantic relationship is when someone keeps tabs of what they give and receive from their spouse.
It is a behavior, meaning it’s deeply rooted in a person’s subconscious and personality. It is not entirely negative, which is why it escapes the notice of holier-than-thou new-age psychiatrists.
For a person with a transactional personality, they view all relationships, including romantic ones, as a transactional relationship.
Evolving transactional relationship into a true partnership
If you are in such a transactional relationship, and you want to evolve your relationship into a true partnership. Here is a list of things you can do to change it.
Don’t mention past mistakes
Don’t account your contributions to the family
Don’t consider your spouse as a rival
Don’t look at your partner as a burden
Don’t let a day pass by without giving to your partner
Do solve things together
Do everything (chores included) together
Do sacrifice for your partner’s happiness
Do understand your partner’s misgivings
Do offer your life to your partner
All responsibilities are shared
All liabilities are shared
If you took the time to read a marriage contract, it says that you’re supposed to share those things.
Following all those tips is easier said than done, but behaviors are formed from habits. Habits are formed by repetition and practice.
It won’t happen overnight, but if you and your partner consciously practice it, then it can become a habit. According to studies, it takes at least 21 days to turn conscious practice into a habit.
A month is not too long for supporting each other and avoiding the things that you must. It is especially true if you’re already in a long-term relationship. It’s even more critical if you plan to stay in that relationship for years to come.
The hardest part of evolving transactional relationships to true partnerships is the willingness of both partnersto change. It is even harder since transactional relationships are symbiotic, and people may consider that there’s no need to fix something that’s not broken.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Sylvia Smith loves to share insights on how couples can revitalize their love lives in and out of the bedroom. As a writer at Marriage.com, she is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt this principle in their lives too. Sylvia believes that every couple can transform their relationship into a happier, healthier one by taking purposeful and wholehearted action.