The idea that true love is effortless has been imposed on us by movies and shows on Netflix. We look at these perfect couples whose relationship is in harmony; they understand each other from half a word, arrange romantic surprises, and break vases on tables every now and then during passionate, spontaneous sex. It’s hard to imagine the heroes calmly and thoughtfully discussing what they expect from the relationship or when they plan to have children, and if they plan at all, and what their views on their future together are. That would definitely decrease the ratings. The on-screen stories convince us that true love will develop on its own (otherwise, how can it be true?). Harmonious love is hard work. Sustaining the relationship over the years is not for the weak of heart. Career success takes work, as does keeping fit. So why do we think harmonious relationships don’t require it? It doesn’t mean that such a relationship can’t be full of joy, life-affirming, satisfying you sexually, and bringing you fun. However, it will need work in return. Today, let’s talk about how to work on a relationship and why it can be difficult.
Why Are Relationships So Complicated?
When the first infatuation subsides, the passion fades, and when relationships get hard, many couples do break up. When we are in love, we don’t see a single flaw in our partner, and we try to be the best version of ourselves. It is necessary to abandon the ideal, almost ethereal image of your partner. Otherwise, you can get trapped in your own delusions. When starting a life together, many are not able to withstand the meeting with a real person. Some details can not be ignored, but the ideal image of the lover prevents us from recognizing that he is the same person as we are, and we may not like everything about him. It turns out that he goes to the bathroom, he does not always smell like your favorite perfume, he can be in a bad mood, and you also need to cook food, not just go on dates in restaurants, as it was in the first months of your relationship. And this is where the first relationship difficulty begins — accepting your partner’s imperfection and facing their flaws and shortcomings. We feel like we’ve picked the shiniest, reddest apple, taken a bite, and there’s a little worm inside. We begin to behave differently, develop pretensions, and we do not notice how we ruin our own happiness with our own hands.
Many men and women believe that love is about being completely in the flow of passion. The pursuit of strong emotions is preferable to harmony, balance in the relationship, the desire to get to know the world of your chosen one. But at one point, you turn off the honeymoon mode, get out of bed, and you will need to talk about something, find compromises, plan a budget, vacation, go through home repairs (heaven forbid), and you were not ready for this. Because in all those shows and movies, they have everything going on by itself, and you have to work on it (and that’s okay). Sooner or later, you will go from being a couple in love to loving partners who need to negotiate, hear and respect each other.
Basically, what does the word complicated mean? It implies that you have a task in front of you for which you need to make an effort. Many people are intimidated by this because they don’t understand why they have to do anything to give and receive love, respect, or friendship. The difficulty with relationships is that we have inherently high expectations and are not willing to compromise.
What’s the Point of Being in a Relationship?
If it’s so complicated, why build this stupid relationship at all? You can just join Tinder, satisfy your sexual needs, and live your life without all these compromises, new habits, agreements, and restrictions. However, humans are social creatures, and ever since we wore animal skins and lived in caves, we preferred to share the piece of meat we got and warm ourselves by the fire with someone. Psychologists distinguish the following main reasons why people get into relationships:
- The solution of material and housing issues (relevant primarily to women, who need a protector and a breadwinner);
- The need for a sexual partnership (relevant primarily to men, since a woman is chosen based on her sexual attractiveness);
- Confirmation of increase in social status (you are a weirdo if you are alone).
- Increase of self-esteem (self-sufficiency is the privilege of a few, most people need confirmation of their own worthiness in the form of having a partner, husband, family, and a feeling of being needed);
- Reproduction instinct, the desire to reproduce (almost all people, even the most selfish ones, want to see a part of themselves);
- Compensation (it is okay that I am not beautiful, but I have a rich and influential husband; it is okay that I do not earn enough, but what a beautiful wife I have).
- The desire to manipulate and dominate (it is much easier to get power over the one who loves you than over any other person).
It reminds you of Maslow’s pyramid of needs, doesn’t it? But the truth is, people aren’t just looking for a mate and building a relationship because of these seven reasons. People don’t want to be lonely in the first place and are looking for love and support. Love makes us feel confident, open our souls and understand our feelings.
Yes, the only thing that truly unites a man and a woman is love. Despite all the differences, both men and women strive for love. Although everyone puts their own meaning into this word, the results are very similar: the confidence in themselves and their own strength, willingness to trust and feel. Perhaps for the sake of this, it is worth working hard to live in a harmonious and happy relationship.
How to Work on a Relationship?
It takes a lot of work and effort to develop a relationship. The first resource we have to think about is, of course, time. We have to fuel our strongest emotions with meetings, conversations, and attention, too. It’s hard to imagine a relationship developing on its own without regular communication. And this is true not only for romance. Remember how often friendships fade with time and age? There are fewer and fewer things to talk about, or it becomes harder and harder to find time to meet.
In a relationship, you have to take care of the other person’s feelings (even if it makes you feel happy, it still requires a conscious effort): try not to hurt them with careless phrases, not to come to her or him with unsolicited and unconstructive criticism, not to offend in the heat of a quarrel. Any relationship implies that you have to take care of the other person. Of course, we are not talking about the patriarchal attitude of dissolving into your partner and his needs, forgetting about yourself and your own interests. But there may always come a time when your partner needs support more than you do.
In any relationship, you should also work on yourself. For example, you have to honestly admit to yourself what you want and expect and what is important for you. You must:
- learn to defend your boundaries and respect others’;
- have conflicts without insulting or humiliating your partner;
- fight for what is important for each of you;
- consider others’ interests without forgetting about your own;
- not lose yourself because you want to dissolve in the other person.
Perhaps this whole complex of skills will naturally come to you. Or maybe it will take more than one day before you can accept each other as you are.
Indeed, love is hard work. However, you must understand what you are fighting for. There is absolutely no need to work on toxic relationships.