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Relationship Lie No 2 – a great relationship should be easy

A great relationship should be easy?

A great relationship should be easy?

This is a lovely lie on the surface of it – that if we are with Mr/Mrs Right, and we are both deeply in love, our relationship should be easy. After all, we are with the person we were destined to be with, so our lives should be like a Disney film and we all live happily ever after. The other person is so right for us and everything is going swimmingly.

And perhaps it is just thus for the first few years – relationship bliss, you are a natural fit for each other and enjoy effortless, joyful connectedness. Great. If you are still there, wonderful! Stop reading, go and embrace your other half, and value and cherish them.

If, like the rest of us, reality has kicked in and you realise that the gloss has worn off and there is some effort involved, keep reading.

Because it is a lie to believe that a great relationship with the right person should be easy.

If I am honest, the shiny glossy everything-is-wonderful phase at the start of our married life many years ago lasted only a few weeks. MB was depressed, and as a new vet, was working 50 hours a week plus two out of three weekends. We hardly saw each other, he was miserable, and the romantic newness of it all crashed about my ears very quickly. We struggled to get to know each other, understand each other and grow together in the face of exhaustion and lack of time. Not great.

Since then, much has happened and changed. And therein lies the key methinks – we are all changing as we get older, and doing so in close proximity with someone else is going to be challenging at best, explosive at worst. Relationships are hard work because we are all flawed human beings. None of us is perfect – see last week’s lie.

Each of us, I tentatively suggest, has a number of things we need to work on to be better people – attitudes, behaviour, characteristics. Living with someone as closely as one does in a relationship is always going to expose and bring out our flaws because it is much less easy to hide them. We are no longer living purely as an individual, having only to consider ourselves and our needs.

And therefore it follows that the relationship will not be plain sailing but require investments of time, effort, humbleness and no doubt quite a few tears.

The fact that we are with someone in a relationship that is hard work can be a very positive thing if we are prepared to see that it takes hard work to grow and change. But ultimately it is worth it because in becoming better versions of ourselves, we are bringing more of the best of us to the relationship. Of course, we cannot make our partner do the same, and that can be the source of huge tension and challenges in any relationship. But when we set out expecting that a relationship should be easy, we are quickly going to crash into a wall of disappointment. Blame, resentment, anger, frustration, distancing quickly follow.

Relationships are hard work.

Living with someone else can be joyful, fun, enriching, and life enhancing. It can also be frustrating, painful, difficult, life-sapping. Hard work is required to recognise – as ever – what is going on, who takes responsibility for what, and how to address the challenges. It might be a question of resetting expectations. Stepping back to understand each other and how each other communicates  and expresses love might be required. Both take hard work and time.

This week, as you go about life alongside your partner, some questions to ask yourself:

  • What are my expectations of the relationship, and what are those of my partner?
  • How realistic are those expectations, and how closely do they match?
  • What do I have responsibility for?
  • Am I willing to do the hard work required to cause me to grow into a better version of myself, and ultimately strengthen the relationship?
  • ultimately – and this is what it boils down to – how much is our relationship worth?
  • what would a first step be towards strengthening our relationship?

Imagine both of you at your best, complementing each other and fitting together like two halves of a jigsaw, creating a more beautiful whole that brings out the best in you both. It is possible – it takes hard work and a recognition that it is a lie that a relationship should be easy if you are deeply in love…..being in love makes the relationship worth fighting for and worth the investment and hard work. It is not simple nor straightforward. But who ever said hard work was easy?


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