The Give-Give Relationship in Greater Detail

Additional Information for Chapter 12, Page 192

Introduction and the 2 x 2 model

In The Compatibility Code three full pages are devoted to describe and explain the give-give relationship. This model represents a foundation for successful relationships.  We will not reproduce here the text from those pages (go buy the book if you haven’t already!) but we will reproduce the 2 x 2 matrix and the identification of what each quadrant represents.  Then we will (as the title of this prescript suggests) provide additional detail about how this model works.


G (giver)

T (taker)







1. abundance

(G – g)

2. torment

(T – g)


3. torment

(G – t)

4. escape

(T – t)

The four sections of the diagram are labeled as follows:

  • ABUNDANCE:         G – g (man is a Giver, woman is a giver)
  • TORMENT:              T – g (man is a Taker, woman is a giver)
  • TORMENT:              G – t (man is a Giver, woman is a taker)
  • ESCAPE:                   T – t (man is a Taker, woman is a taker)

The love tank and need fulfillment (NF) points

Before we discuss the individual quadrants let me first consider the issue of the “love tank” and our mythical Need Fulfillment (NF) points described on page 194 of The Compatibility Code. Gary Chapman, in his book The Five Love Languages introduces the idea of a love tank and necessity of keeping it full.  I don’t know if the idea of a love tank is original with Chapman but it certainly provides a useful analogy.

Chapman will get no argument from anyone that to-be-loved is a foundational human need and without love we wither and eventually die-at least emotionally. A primary function of a romantic relationship, an intimate relationship, a marriage, is to provide this love.

The theme of Chapman’s book, then, is that unless we know each others’ love languages we may be unsuccessful in fulfilling the love needs of our partner.  Each person needs a certain amount of loving.  That amount varies greatly from person to person but everyone requires some.  If one’s partner (or others in the environment) provide sufficient love (and this is perceived and accepted as love) to meet their needs, then their love tank fills, and, as long as the loving (and their perception that this is love) continues, the love tank remains full.  In the love dimension they are happy campers.

However when the loving ceases or diminishes greatly, then the love tank begins to empty and we begin to feel a painful need in that area. The interesting caveat is that we possess a hypothetical auxiliary tank.  This means that if we receive much more than the necessary amount of loving, we can store up the extra in our auxiliary tanks.  If we have been living in this surplus, we are able to easily negotiate days or longer when our love needs are not being fulfilled.

Let’s use an illustration: If a woman is in a warm loving relationship and her husband systematically provides more than the requisite amount of love, our woman is content.  Not only content but stores up a reserve due to the surplus.  If the husband for whatever reason is nasty and caustic for a few days or has to leave on a lengthy trip and (because he hates cell phones) has little contact with his wife while traveling; the wife can last for awhile on the reserve and be quite content.  If the negative situation continues, however, the reserve can be used up and the love tank, itself, begins to drain.

This is where the idea of “need-fulfillment” points comes in.  We abbreviate this NF points, and, in the context of Chapter 12, refers to need for love. As we continue the analogy, each person requires a certain number of NF points to keep their love tank full. As the previous paragraph suggests, if there is a surplus of NF points the person can store these in his or her auxiliary tank for future use.

The first quadrant

No we move to additional discussion about the four quadrants. We start with quadrant #1, abundance.

This quadrant is represented in the book as the ideal.  He spends a good deal of time seeking to understand his wife, learn her love languages, find what fills her love tank, and once he understands, he spends time giving to his wife in ways that keep her NF points well in excess of what is needed.

The wife, then does exactly the same for her husband.

You then have a relationship in which both partners are operating well above their basic NF-points requirement.  This allows for satisfaction in this critical area and also allows the couple to weather a variety of challenges without serious risk to the relationship.

At this point we have said no more than is included in The Compatibility Code. We would like to play devils’ advocate and consider what problems might result in efforts to live a give-give relationship.

  1. One or the other is not skilled at understanding the needs of his or her spouse
  2. One or the other possesses needs so extreme that no amount of giving is going to be satisfactory
  3. One partner is so deficient in ability to give emotionally that his or her efforts are not satisfying
  4. One or the other does not practice due diligence, that is, they do not spend the time necessary to really understand his or her spouse.
  5. Once they understand what feeds their partner, their understanding does not translate into giving in sufficient quantity or regularity to satisfy the needs of their spouse.
  6. They get lazy and don’t do what they should do.
  7. One provides NF points in an emotionally satisfying way but the other does not.

The first three items represent psychiatric conditions that extend well beyond the scope of this prescript.  If these problems persist, get professional help.

The latter three are issues that you have control over.  Decide if a great marriage is worth the effort.  If you decide it is, then 4) practice due diligence, 5) once you understand, give based on that understanding, and 6) don’t get lazy.  A great marriage is possible if you do what you should.

Number 7 moves you into quadrants 2 or 3.  We discuss those below.

Second and third quadrants

Quadrants 2 and 3 represent the long-suffering (but ignorant) efforts of an altruistic person to get her partner to give back by pouring more love and effort into her own giving.  What the person is really doing is facilitating the continued irresponsibility of her partner.  You see, there are no consequences for his selfishness.  No matter how much he neglects his wife and looks after his own needs, his wife still loves him and continues to give in loving ways.

For a truly hard-headed altruist this appalling condition may continue for a life time.  For most, in the passage of time, it becomes evident that she is being cheated.  Initially she responds by trying harder in hopes that her husband will eventually respond.  He usually doesn’t change at all, and we get a first hand view of a B.F. Skinner extinction experiment.  How long will it take before the wife stops giving since there is no reward for such behavior.

If you are in a dating relationship and detect such behavior (as the relationship matures) radical action needs to be taken.  First read Chapter 12 of The Compatibility Code together so he has a clear image of what we’re talking about.  Once he understands the importance of changing his behavior he may go one of two directions: 1) he changes his behavior and all is well.  2) He does not change his behavior and you need to drop him like a hot potato. Then move on to someone who has better potential.

If you are already in a marriage and experience such behavior, first, do what the dating couple does.  Read Chapter 12 together.  This is unlikely to change his behavior, but in some instances it will.  If his behavior does not change a clear response cannot be stated at a generic level.  Humans are too complex.  The one thing you must do is: Don’t feed his irresponsibility.  Do not reward him for unacceptable behavior.  We cannot go into detail because there are a million different ways in which this might be enacted.

If you have specific questions, contact us on this web site in the “Ask the Experts” section.  With specific information we are in a position to provide more specific guidance.

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