Do You Have to Work Hard in a Relationship?

Since words truly have power, we have decided it’s time to tackle some of the misleading words we are inundated with concerning relationships. We are bombarded with information that tells us relationships inevitably have conflict, that we have to work hard in a relationship and that compromise is the path to success. This week and next week we will discuss two of the prime propaganda words applied to relationships.

How many times have you heard that relationships need work, lots of work, hard work? We challenge this and further state that it’s another of those dangerous myths that perpetuate a misleading view of relationships. Its metaphor is that there is a spring between you that sporadically pushes you apart, and you have to struggle and work against this force in order to stay together.

In our experience of successful peaceful relationships, different forces apply. When your core values match, a prerequisite for any relationship that will have enduring potential, then your differences are not a negative issue. They are not a challenge to you, so you do not need to work to accept them. Your differences will be an addition to both of you, and a source of constant growth and enrichment. The uniqueness of each of you will bring discovery, humor, and will be a continuous source for fresh new experiences, that alone you could never have.

Many say relationships inevitably have conflict & need hard work. This is not so. #relationships Click To TweetA better metaphor is a rubber band that pulls two people together. We are by nature a cooperative species, gaining great benefit from working together and specializing in different skills, and relationships are the same, with the additional attractions of companionship, intimacy and sex.

But relationships also fall apart or develop combative behavior patterns, and a variant of the spring metaphor is useful here: each person has their own spring which makes it difficult to get close to their partner, and here is where the word “work” does apply. You have to work on yourself; you have to find that spring and tackle it.

This involves self-reflection, and most of us are not very good at that. It’s tough. How can you see yourself without a mirror? Other people can be that mirror by saying how they see you, but they may be reluctant to speak honestly, their view may be distorted, or you may refuse to believe them.

Even so, they are only words, and it’s feelings that are really driving the bus. Sit down by yourself and explore them. Don’t resist them, don’t judge them, don’t act on them. Say Hi. Own them. They are your feelings. But they are not you; they are an aspect of you. When the storms have blown away, underneath them is you. Not the idea of you or your name or your profession or any identity. Find that place and live from it as much and as often as possible. Wash, rinse, repeat. That is how personal growth happens. That is the work.

Posted in Relationships, Successful Relating Tagged with:
9 comments on “Do You Have to Work Hard in a Relationship?
  1. Jinjee says:

    Great post! It’s a whole different mindset and I like it!

  2. You’ve clarified something about that old adage that always rang hollow with me. You’re right. A good relationship doesn’t mean endlessly hard work. It means remaining attentive to each other and being ready to work for each other’s benefit in the relationship.

    • Maude says:

      Great way to put it, Denise! Bringing attention, staying present to a relationship, will strengthen the connection and keep you aware you are both on the same side.

  3. Anna says:

    This is absolutely brilliant. Thank you.

  4. Lynelle Paulick says:

    This is just great, just such a great blowing wind coming out of your little studio there, you two! Keeping blowing, I want a hurricane to flatten our old structures, blow them away, and bring in the new seeds, yeahhhhhh. (trying to keep it light here, of course, but this is so freaking serious and so important, in my opinion anyway)

    (big thumbs-up emoji HERE)

    • Phil says:

      Lovely, Lynelle! We’ve had fun doing a few “myth” posts and trying to be as clear and uncompromising as possible about them.

3 Pings/Trackbacks for "Do You Have to Work Hard in a Relationship?"
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  3. […] the last several weeks we have been writing about the popular myths of work and compromise concerning […]

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