Why Are Relationships So Damn Hard

In the last couple of weeks or so, I have spent a copious amount of time giving advice on relationships from several different directions.  I’ve had one person who is struggling to really understand the differences that their partner brings to the table and I’ve had another one who is just really about done with their marriage and then another who has bumped heads one too many times with their partner and now they are afraid that one too many times has pushed them to the edge.  Even in my own relationship, recently, I’ve had to navigate the treacherous waters of compromise to ensure that we make it to the next phase of our relationship.  But in all of these scenarios, I came to a final question: Why are relationships so damn hard?  Even the good ones are hard.  Listen, don’t think for one second that a relationship will be peaches and cream because he who thinks that is being set up for a big upset.  Relationships are hard work and if you’ve never heard that before, then trust it from someone who is going into year five of a relationship that it is the truth.  If you do not find that your relationship is, at minimal, a challenge to the very nature of who you are, then you are not doing it right.

We do not want to compromise

I think every couple who intends to get married should have the word ‘compromise’ tattooed on the base of their palm because it is the one thing you should ever not consider when you are in a relationship.  I often say that a relationship comes to teach you more about yourself than anything else.  Being in a relationship is like a Crape Myrtle tree.  A Crape myrtle tree can grow excessively wild and big but if it’s pruned in the right places it will be a beautiful addition to any landscape and when it blooms, the beauty is astonishing.   You do not have permission to be 100% yourself in a relationship.  “Well, why not?” You may ask.  If you are not willing to prune back things about yourself to accommodate the relationship then every relationship you enter will be incredibly hard for you.  There is no “This is just how I am” type of attitude.  You have to start saying, “This is how ‘we’ are and no longer ‘this is how I am.'” because it’s not all about you anymore.  If you want “we” to be easy then you and your partner will have to prune back on some of the “I” parts.

We have a fantasy of what Love should be

One of the persons to whom I’ve spoken with about their relationships said, “True love does not make you lie.”  I responded, “True Love doesn’t lie, but humans do.”  That fact is a relationship is not the picturesque scene of evening balls and glass slippers.  If you go into a relationship thinking that your love is enough then you will surely be heading for divorce court.  I said once before that love is like the icing on a cake and in the relationship, it helps keep the relationship together but love does not provide the chemical compounds needed for a cake to rise or for it to actually become a cake.  What about the cake carrier that the cake will sit in?  Icing contributes to none of that so why are you expecting love to be the security blanket for every component of your relationship?

You need to truly know your partner so that it can work.  You need to know what makes them happy and what makes them angry.  You need to know what their negative propensities are as well as their positive propensities.  What if I told you that to love someone means to love them through all of the mess ups that will happen in your relationship?  Surely that doesn’t have a place in the fairy tale scene now does it? Now, I’m not speaking of repeat patterns of negative behaviors that continue to go uncorrected.  Mariah Carey said in a song that she had a vision of love before her love actually came along but I wonder what does that vision look like once he actually arrives.  Does that vision stop arguments?  Does it help you to get out of your feelings?  Let me tell you, the vision will change.  Reality will set it and you will need to be mature enough to use tools like communication, compromise, and respect to make your relationship work.

We don’t communicate

“Why are you upset?” I asked.  “Because he didn’t notice my new hairstyle,” she replied. “So, did you tell him you were mad?”  She said no.  What just happened here is a woman is angry with her partner and it appears he has no idea.  She will give him a cold, dry shoulder and he will likely respond with agitation and then an argument ensues and her side will already be primed because of the hairstyle debacle. Relationships become hard when you fail to properly communicate your feelings and expectations with each other. If you have an expectation of your partner but you do not communicate that expectation, you place yourself in a position to be upset and frustrated which then become the fuel needed to start an argument.  Remember, communication only works if it’s effective communication.  Learn ways to effectively communicate so that your discussions are fruitful.

Relationships don’t have to be hard

Relationships are not hard it’s just that we are hard when in them.  The idea of a relationship is for two people to come together and become as one on many levels.  This will require both parties to become soft and malleable, like Playdoh.  It’s hard to mix two ingredients together where one is indifferent to the other, like oil and water.  When baking a cake, you should never dump all the ingredients together in a bowl and just think you will get a good tasting, moist cake.  No, you will get a hot mess of a cake that will be doughy and just plain dry. Relationships are the same way.  There are steps to building a lasting relationship that is easier to maintain.  Start with a strong foundation and ensure that your personal demons have been handled or at minimum are being handled so that your relationship can grow with ease.

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