Should You Have to ‘Work’ at a Good Relationship?
There’s a consensus in our society that in order to have a fulfilling relationship, you are required to WORK at it. But how can a relationship be considered ‘good’ if you’re constantly feeling like it’s work?
There are two reasons you believe this ridiculously dissatisfying idea.
The first is that you’ve been programmed to avoid negative feelings. As a child, you learned that bad feelings are abnormal, and that you should fear them, and make them go away.
Because of this, you lost the ability to feel both positive and negative feelings at the same time—which is key to preserving a relationship, even when you disagree. When you forget that you love someone while you are fighting, you get overwhelmed and overworked.
It also means you avoid talking about things openly. You consider deep discussions ‘work’. On the contrary, deep discussions are connective. Even for men. Don’t you remember when you first met your partner you had talks for hours and hours without getting tired of it?
The second reason you think all relationships are ‘work’ is that society has you convinced that if something feels bad it needs to be repaired. This makes you petrified that if you don’t fix the relationship it will fail. Even couples therapists will automatically ‘pathologize’ an issue, just because you came into the office. I think it would be great if therapists would just start by saying ‘Congratulations! You are perfectly normal’.
Conflict is not a bad thing. Nor is it something that has to be fixed. The very best relationships have conflicts. But managing them should feel more like adjusting the steering on a vehicle in motion than dragging a dead car down the street.
At the first sign of conflict you should say “I love him so much I can think of nobody else I’d rather have conflict with”.
So how do you know you are truly working too much on your relationship? You need to get to a couples therapist if you answer ‘yes’ to any of the following:
- Do you have fights with your partner more than once per week? (One is to be expected but two is too many)
- Do you constantly avoid being alone with your partner because you don’t want to have a deep discussion? (Why be with someone you don’t like talking to?)
- Do you go thru entire days where you cannot feel any positive feelings towards your partner? (If you love someone you should always find it)
- Do you feel like you hate more than five things about your partner? (yes – you will always hate stuff)
- Do you feel like you are not getting what you need from your partner more than 20% of the time?(then what makes you think you’ll ever get it? You aren’t going to change him!)
The reason I hate the term ‘Work’ is because we are always working—And sometimes so much that we are OVERworked in our lives. The whole point of a relationship is to feel like you are home–It is your serenity–This person makes all the WORK worthwhile. So we shouldn’t call it work. We should call it love.