Updated: Feb 20, 2020
There is really nothing more fulfilling in life than having a supportive, loving relationship with someone who has your back and who is there for you day in and day out. If you’ve found the person you want to spend your life with and have identified your purpose as a couple, you’re definitely on the right track. However, I’ve found that many young adults enter into relationships with a skewed perspective that often leads to the corrosion of their partnership and eventual break-up or divorce. As a married man of (?) years and father of six boys, I’ve lived through plenty of difficulties and had to learn most of my lessons the heard way. However, with the support of my wife, I’ve figured out a lot of truths and myths about relationships and enjoy sharing them with my clients—especially the young adults who are just getting started on their paths. In this series of blogs, I want to talk about some of the biggest relationship lessons I’ve learned and how this has helped me maintain a loving and happy marriage. The first (and I believe most important) lesson: you have to put in the work.
Ignore the Fantasy
It’s pretty easy—especially nowadays—to look around and believe that really good relationships are like magic. They simply work by themselves, everyone is always smiling, and you come home to a blissful partnership at the end of every day. This, my friends, is a fantasy. What you see on social media, what you read in romance novels, and what you see on the big (and small screen) is not reality. No matter how good anyone’s relationship is, it’s still work. No relationship is easy and it takes introspection, humility, understanding, and plenty of compromise to maintain a harmonious partnership.
Understand It’s a Process
Wouldn’t it be nice if you just got to a point where your relationship was good and you could relax and enjoy it? Sorry to say this, but you’ll never reach that point. Your relationship is a living, breathing entity and it will continue to grow and evolve as both you and your partner have new life experiences and age. You won’t have everything figured out on the honeymoon and you won’t have everything figured out by your 50th wedding anniversary. Realizing that you are on a constantly changing path of evolution will help you roll with the punches and continually strive to be better instead of wondering why you still need to put in all that work.
Learn How to Communicate
Any good book on marriage will stress communication and for good reason. As soon as you stop talking to each other in ways the other can hear and respond to, you’re in trouble. Couples need to figure out ways to communicate in loving, supportive ways and to feel safe enough with each other to tell the truth. It’s not easy, especially if you don’t come from a family where open communication was present. Reading books, attending seminars, and maybe even getting a little couple’s counseling can really help if you struggle in this area.
Use Conflict as a Way to Grow
When you are able to have emotional flexibility, you can see conflict not as a problem, but as an opportunity. Though it’s great when your relationship is progressing in a conflict-free manner, this is not the times when you and your partner grow. Growth comes from friction and from both of you figuring out how to resolve that friction and learn more about each other in the process. If you’re in a good relationship with loving communication, conflicts will inevitably lead to deeper connection.
Whether you’ve entered into a committed relationship or have yet to find that special someone, understanding that relationships take work and that you’ll never reach a point where you can simply relax and enjoy is the first step to true happiness in a partnership. Have questions or comments about relationships? Please leave them below!