With the distraction and overwhelm that come with daily life, it makes sense that instead of generosity, we end up focusing upon our own self-interests, which usually involve how we might get, rather than give.
When working with couples who are struggling with conflict in their relationship, I find that one of the signals they have become entrenched in a highly destructive conflict pattern, is that they have lost their desire and openness to practicing generosity with one another. When we begin to view our partner as a threat to our (emotional) safety and well-being, it is challenging to give of our self, to give of our thoughtfulness, consideration, love, time, energy, and resources, when what we are actually attempting to do is protect our self. When I point this out to the couple, I often get the response from one or both of them that they aren't giving unless the other person gives first. Then, maybe if the other gives first, they might give something, but there are no guarantees that they won't use this vulnerability in the other as an opportunity to attack.
Couples often don't readily acknowledge that what got them into this entrenched conflict, in the first place, was putting the self first, making decisions without the relationship in mind, and not extending beyond their own self-interest for the sake of their partner, and the relationship. In other words, a deficiency in generosity got them to where they are. It isn't that your partner is hurting you and therefor you are choosing not to be generous, it is likely that you both were not being generous with your love, self, resources, vulnerability, and time, to start off with, and this lead to a norm within the relationship to become less and less generous, and thus more self-protective and self-involved.
If you and your partner or spouse are encountering entrenched conflict, on a regular basis, where you notice your heart closing off to the other, ask yourself, what lack of generosity on my part, is my partner responding to? And, if you really want to experiment with how to apply generosity as a means to resolving conflict, ask yourself if you can start by letting your guard down, and offering your vulnerability and authentic openness as your most basic act of generosity toward your significant other. And, if they respond with fear and angst, what might it be like to be generous with your understanding and empathy, where you are able to gather how it makes sense that they don't feel safe enough yet to return the generosity.
After all, if one partner chooses to start to act through strong generosity, there is no longer anything for the other to be fearful and self-protective of. If you practice this generosity enough, you will see how your significant other shifts into a more generous, softer, kinder, and more loving person, right before your eyes.
*** It is important to note that if you are partnered with someone who has a significant history of trauma, has a developmental disorder such as Autism, or may have a Personality Disorder, such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or Borderline Personality Disorder, this person may not have the capacity to shift out of an entitled, self-protective and angry space, when you offer them your strongest generosity. This person may not know what it is to practice generosity, due to the nature of their deep wounding and trauma. It is still possible to heal entrenched conflict while at home and in individual and couples therapy, but it may take a much longer period of time, and will likely demand that both parties do a lot of personal healing around themes of invasion, powerlessness, exploitation, and victimization, before generosity can become the norm in the relationship.***