I used to think that having a strong, meaningful, empowering long-term romantic relationship was the hardest thing in the world.
Merely getting into one seemed hard enough, let alone the act of growing and sustaining one.
Now, I have a different perspective. That relationships are easy.
Or at least, they can be.
I think the primary reason we end up believing that relationships are hard is that we’ve been sold this image that relationships are supposed to make us happy. Especially if you’re a girl or young woman and have been shown 1,000s of images of the perfect wedding.
And then they don’t.
After the chemical madness of a new lust has worn off, we end up realizing that our partner isn’t the perfect, dreamy god or goddess we thought they were.
We notice the flaws, the things we disagree with, the behaviors we don’t like. And it wears on us.
Often, we end up arguing about money, cleanliness, quality time, and communication. These are the things that consistently are cited as relationship-derailers, with money fronting the list.
Eventually, we can’t understand why the other person won’t see reason, won’t act the way we want, won’t this or that or cake.
So how can I say relationships are easy?
Because the purpose of our partner isn’t to make us happy. Nor to listen to our every idea/command/suggestion. That’s not what they’re there for. Should we share a bunch of happy experiences with them. Absolutely! But that’s not their job.
As long as we expect such things from our partners, our relationships will be hard. And they’ll sadly end before they might have – would our attitude have been different.
I’ve been there, and I know hundreds of other people who have too – who enter a relationship thinking – probably unconsciously, that this is the person that’s going to fix everything and make life right.
It’s not wholly wrong either. Because they are there to help us grow. To help us evolve as people so we can solve our problems.
And once we stop needing to control how our partner is behaving and focus on taking responsibility for ourselves, relationships are easy.That’s really what it comes down to. Our need for control. It’s easy to see threats in any behaviors that we disagree with: How to clean the kitchen or what constitutes a reasonable expense – and that if we don’t reign in that behavior we’re somehow going to lose them.
But it’s not the behavior that’s threatening, it’s our lack of acceptance of it. We are in control of us. Not them. And we don’t need to be. If we truly love and care for someone, we can be free to let them do some things that we ourselves wouldn’t do.That’s not a relationship killer.
Your partner, my partner, everyone’s partner – they are their own people. Accept it. Embrace it. Celebrate it.The fact that they’re different is going to challenge us to see the world in a new way.
We don’t have to accept all of it, but we don’t have to judge it or call it wrong either. There is a middle ground where both parties can do what’s right for them and still come together to build something beautiful.That, after all, is what a relationship is all about: Two (usually) people coming together to create something that neither of them could alone. And I mean more than children, I mean a life full of shared experiences, challenges, growth, and adventure.
And to recall a nice quote I remember from the world of entrepreneurship: If both of us are the same, then one of us isn’t needed.
Too many differences and a relationship won’t flourish. But you already knew that. Too few and it won’t flourish either. So don’t try to turn your partner into another you. Observe them. Watch how they interact with the world. See how it, even if it’s not your ideal approach, is an approach that works an makes things happen.
That is amazing.
And by being able to relax, let go of the need for control, and just experience the world with that other person – a relationship is not just easy, it’s also the most wonderful thing in the world.