Why You Don’t Need to Suffer and Struggle in Your Relationships

Why You Don’t Need to Suffer and Struggle in Your Relationships

Do you believe that in order to have honest and true relationships that you have to fight and suffer and slog through tons of drama? Do you push and shove at each other, glorifying this way of interacting as the symbol of how much you love each other? Do you believe that continuing in this manner shows that love?

It is not really surprising if you do. There is so much written extolling this behavior and making it seem that it is the only way to be truly honest with each other, while at the same time casting doubt and aspersions on those who seem to relate peacefully, joyfully, even happily!

We’d like to quote and comment on a piece from Jeff Foster* that is a perfect example of this presentation of relationships.

The healthiest relationships and friendships are not necessarily the ones that look happiest to the naked eye.

But then again they probably are.

They aren’t necessarily the ones where two people are always found holding hands, giggling, dancing and singing with the butterflies on Instagram, where nothing ever goes wrong and love is beautiful and blissful and perfect.

They aren’t necessarily those, but they are far more likely to be than the ones being extolled in this piece. Notice the subtle put down and trivializing of those who appear in harmony. Why is that automatically suspect?

External ‘perfection’ can easily mask internal devastation, disconnection and that awful, unspoken desperation to be free.

Why are those who exude joy accused of ‘external perfection’ and immediately portrayed as having misery on the inside!?

The healthiest relationships are the honest ones.

So are we to believe that honest relationships have to be laden down with cares and woes?

And they might not look so ‘happy’ or ‘carefree’ from the outside. They might not fit the image of what a relationship ‘should’ or ‘must’ look or feel like.

They might not, but one can say the same about “Two people are always found holding hands, giggling, dancing and singing with the butterflies.” They might feel just as it looks, even with the obnoxious insinuation that joy is trivial and unbelievable.

Here, two people tell the honest, painful truth about today, and continually let go of all their preconceived ideas about each other.

If this were only true. But in fact too often people are acting out and holding onto the preconceived notions proposed in this excerpt!

The relationship is forever renewed in the furnace of authenticity. There may be ruptures, misunderstandings, even intense feelings of doubt and disconnection, but there is a mutual willingness to face this seeming mess head-on!

His ‘may be’ comes across as nearly inevitable, and presents struggle as a noble action, but there isn’t even a hint that the end goal is to stop these destructive behaviors, and by calling it a ‘mutual mess,’ he is oblivious to the idea that people need to work on themselves.

You can choose to leave relationship conflicts behind by setting your intention to live peacefully Share on XOur experience, and the path we share, is one in which you can make a choice to drop the negative behaviors from past and present relationships, and learn and grow. You can change by choice and by setting your intention to do so. This does not involve dishonesty, sublimation of your feelings or compromising and giving up parts of yourself to ‘keep the peace’. It involves a real transformation, and it happens inside you. When two people relate in this way, then both can find a path to the visceral true experience of living peace as a practice, while each growing to their full potential. We agree with the quote from Eckhart Tolle that Jeff Foster ends his piece with:

Relationships aren’t here to make us happy – for true happiness lies within. They’re here to make us profoundly conscious.

We agree that it is the work within yourself that will enable you to move forward on a path toward peaceful and enriching relationships. However, Eckhart Tolle did not by any means imply that relationships should make you unhappy, or that happiness is to be despised. He was indicating that you have to look within for your growth and change.
* This piece was originally in his book “Falling in Love with Where You Are”, p.168, and in edited form on his Facebook page. It has appeared in many places both with and without attribution.

Photo credit: Phil and Maude Mayes
Photo note: A still from one of our videos

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6 Comments on “Why You Don’t Need to Suffer and Struggle in Your Relationships

  1. Ohhhh, I always love a good critique or maybe this would be more appropriately considered an analysis? So interesting, everrrr thought provoking.

    So Phil and Maude, I won’t sign up for the online course this go-round, largely because of time issues. But I continue Always to enjoy the heck out of your writings and especially to Always wish you absolute success (whatever that means, I know…) in the work you’re both doing. And so that course will never end.


    • Sorry you won’t be able to make the course. We would value your feedback! We are quite interested to see the reaction to this week’s blog. So many people find themselves stuck in a state of arguing and fighting, and seem to be convinced this shows how committed to the relationship they are. It is so sad that peace and harmony are looked upon with such suspicion. We believe that it is not only possible but critically important to leave these behaviors behind, look inside and choose to change, set an intention to do so and then practice and learn how to use other ways.
      but I’m probably preaching to the choir with you!
      with love

  2. I love how easy it is to Tweet the quotes you set up for that! Feels like I’m helping the world to become more peaceful by leading them to your blog! 🙂

  3. It’s funny, Gordon and I are very affectionate in public, and we notice that we are often the only couple at the party holding hands, and we find it strange. This feels nice, even if we’re in a place of struggle in our everyday life, which happens because we have different housekeeping styles. We’ve recently come to a place of peace with help from a counsellor who advised us to value the other person’s efforts even when they don’t succeed. So now we both know we are both trying, and that helps us to be more kind and gentle with each other, and to notice that we are loved, and so to feel loved and thereby more loving.

    • Dear Jinjee,
      Thank you for sharing how you worked out your differences without anger and with help. Here’s a little tip that goes right along with what your counselor suggested:
      Look at the positive actions, the ones you really like that Gordon does. React to those, acknowledge those, and watch how this simple way of changing what you look at, changes everything!
      I hope our blogs help as well.
      wishing you the best,

  4. Thank you for the tip Maude! Love it!! What we focus on comes into focus, clearly. 😉
    Yes, your books and blogs help tremendously. We enjoy reading together, discussing, and then putting what we’ve learned into practice. This helped us to be on the same side already when we went to counseling, which made the job of helping us relatively easy. We were fine tuned in just a few sessions, and we were dismissed after spending our last session both talking about how great our partner is doing respectively, if that makes sense. We love the philosophy behind your teachings, and that you and Phil are so consistent in sharing your own journey, which is very inspiring!

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