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March 24, 2008

RELATIONSHIP STRUGGLES… HOW MUCH STRUGGLE IS TOO MUCH?

There are so many conflicting messages in the world about relationships that people don’t know what to expect or even hope for in their relationships.  On the one side we hear that relationships are hard work and at the other end we hear that if you marry your soul mate, everything should be smooth sailing.

So what’s the truth?

My belief is that relationships take time to form, attention to grow, and nourishment to stay strong.  This can be hard work, however, most of the work is time and attention--not constant struggles filled with harsh comments, intense fighting, or cold silences. 

There’s a difference between putting time into something, versus working like a dog constantly to be heard, respected, and cherished.   I believe that relationships take time and effort.  I do not believe they should be an endless dance of pain and sorrow followed by occasional moments of joy.

If you’ve been wondering if you’re working too hard and getting too little then slow down and take a look at that.  Nourishing, healthy relationships will feel…nourishing.  They will fuel you, support you, bring you joy more times than not, and they will feel good.  Yes, there will be difficult times however these times should be the exception rather than the rule.

There will be times when you and your partner may hit a rough patch that will last quite a while such as the birth of a child, or an affair, or a death of a loved one, yet even these times should be handled with respect and love.  Having moments of difficult conversations, boredom, distance, struggles etc., are normal. Having years of steady pain, struggles and distance is not.

For those of you who are in relationships that are painful more often than not, it’s time to decide what you want for your life.  If you want a relationship that fuels you, you have to fight to get it.  Seek help, look at your part in the struggle and fix it your end, be clear about what you want, and respectfully stand up to get it. 

If you get the relationship you deserve as a result, then the fight was well worth it.

CHALLENGE:  If your relationship is frequently painful and difficult, know this is not how relationships are meant to be.  Take some time to look at what’s not working.  Figure out what your role is in this dance.  Fix your piece.  Stand up and ask your partner to fix his/hers.  If necessary seek help.

Comments

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I've been married for almost 15 years with my husband and thank God we successfully continue to have a strong relationship despite all the trials that tried to break up our relationship. I know that having a kid right now inspired us to make our foundation more strong and solid.Thanks for the opportunity share.

The struggle is TOO MUCH when you are not just hurt, but you start hurting your own self. Lovers should have some love for themselves and not give their all. This way, we would be sane enough to know when to say "it's over".

Hi Lisa, I have been married for almost 7 years to my college sweetheart. He is a hard person to be with but “I married him” is what my mom always says. His family is always amazed at how I can deal with his mood swings and anger issues. But after having two kids and dealing with life struggles I am having a really hard time dealing with him and feel resentful for all the times I have said I was sorry and he never does. I stay at home with my two little ones and feel trapped.
He can be wonderful when he wants to be and I always think it will get better. I finely told him I was feeling unhappy a few months ago and wanted to see a marriage councilor but he refuses and told me to just leave. I went a few times on my own but if things are going to change he needs to go too. I can not imagine myself being divorced but I am having a hard time seeing myself this unhappy and sad for the rest of my life. I am also worried about what others with think of me as silly as that sounds and I do not want to hurt him in anyway. I feel as if I am having a midlife crises and I am only 31. What is the next step?

P.s. and I am sorry I forgot to mention it in my first message but my bf and I have tried counseling and this was not very successful. We both see someone individually now and have improved in some ways but overall, the same struggle continues, hence, my questioning. Thank for even listening, reading....Lisa Marie

Hi Lisa, it's amazing how wise words have such timeless impact...I just came across your post today. I am 32 and my bf is 28 - we have been together for 2 years. He is different than any guy I have dated in the sense that he is a true partner, a loyal companion and great friend. While all of this is amazing, we have spent most of our 2 years fighting with one another and struggling to understand each other. Every issue or instance is either an issue for me or him. He is very extroverted and I am introverted so he would get angry when I wouldn't respond to all of his many texts daily, and I would get upset when he wouldn't leave me alone to have my space and re-energize. These are examples of the endless things we struggle through until the next. He says we need to work through it all and he believes we will be together forever - I question what is too hard and if I am a weak person for thinking about giving up? I am painfully torn - Lisa Marie

Dear MJ: It sounds like the wisest part of you already knows the answer. You stated that you don't think you have a future with this man. It seems like you're trying to prolong something that isn't right for you given where you are in life. Perhaps it's time to pull back, take some space and truly think about what you want. First loves can be very difficult to let go of even though they're not the best future. If you weren't afraid, what would you do? What does the wisest part of you say?
Tune in and listen to that part of you that knows...and then follow through with the best decision for you.
Take Care-Lisa

Me and my partner have been together for nearly 2 years. I am 21 and he is 42, I'm a mature old soul so we have lots in common. I'm not interested in young guys. we love each other so much, but we don't get enough time together..and its a struggle. I feel lonely and am hurting a lot. He has his 8 year old son Sunday to Thursday then he works weekends playing in a band. I can go and watch but only at the public gigs. Sometimes he's out of town all night with no reception.Its not the same at the gigs. I feel stupid standing there by myself unless I drink a lot. Watching the females dance around him is hard too. I used to go 4 tea and stay at his a lot but I have just brought my own home (much bigger than his) and a new puppy so I cant/dont want to stay at his and I cant handle young kids all the time. I work during the day so we only get a date night sometimes once a week sometimes twice. We txt a lot but I'm just getting bored with it and I've told him how I feel even though we cant change anything. He made an effort and said about moving in together or get hitched but I didn't really say a lot. I feel I'm young and yet to have a family etc., and hes been there done that..I told him we don't really have a future cause I cant live with a kid. It would be hard having them living in my home because I like my area being tidy. If they did move in I know i would eventually want space and probably get sick of it. I did live with him when I was saving for my house and it was ok but I wasn't too worried about the cleanliness etc. Now that I have showed my frustration, he seems brief on the phone and isn't texting me back or showing affection etc? What do I do? I'm trying hard but don't know how long this part time relationship will last.. he is my 1st love :(

I have been seeing my boyfriend since June 2009. We officially started dating in Aug 2010. During that time, he was seeing many other girls (when I thought he was being monogamous). I was hurt, but still fought for him. Now that we have been dating for a lil over a year and a half, I find myself questioning if I should have just kicked him to the curb in the past. We have been in a long distance relationship while I was away at school. Now that I graduated, I found a job and moved in with him. It was great in the beginning discovering each other. Now I feel like im stuck. Im ready for the next step. He isnt motivated to get a good job, career, or go to school. Thats total opposite of me. we are different with everything and we bicker a lot, we disagree on Everything!. Its getting to the point where idk if im going to be able to stand this relationship anymore; im that annoyed. I feel worn out, I feel like I continually have to work for this relationship and to be happy. I havnt found happiness yet (that lasts more than a couple months).
I guess I am just curious to know if I am working too hard for something im never going to get. I just want to me HAPPY!

I have been with my husband since Feb 2010. We got married in November 2010. Our relationship has not been very solid. There has been some physical and mental abuse on his part and in May 2010 I left and filed for divorce. We got back together and I stopped the divorce. We have been trying to work on things but things have been rocky. We have 4 children between us. I have 2 and he has 2 from previous marriages. He wants to run the household and wants to keep the exes out of the picture with decision with the children and I disagree with that. I feel like he is very needy and I do not have the energy for that with a full time job and 4 children. 1 of his children live with us full time and both of my children live with me full time. I can't seem to give him the love and affection that he demands with three children at home. I feel like now that I have made a mistake by giving this relationship a try but he does not agree. He said he feels unloved and unwanted in this relationship but he is not willing for us to go separate ways. I feel trapped. My 16 year old no longer wants to be home when he is there and when his children are there. There is so much tenstion in the home. I dont know what to do. He has started taking xanez and celexa. Now he is using the bible and religion to try to keep us together. What should I do?

Dear Candy, Be clear that the relationship is not working and that you both need to get into therapy to see if it can change. If he refuses I would get into therapy yourself and then do whatever you have to to not be in an unhealthy relationship.
For your children's sake I would do this asap.
Take Care- Lisa

Hi Lisa,

I am 25 and been in a relationship for last 4.5 years with my 24 yr old boyfriend. He comes from what seems like a dysfunctional family. His mom has been depressed for years and has never been there for the kids. She manipulated her kids to give her what she wanted. My bf left his family after trying for years to solve the real problems at home. He still cares about them but is very hurt and angry at them. He is starting to think about patching things up with them again, provided certain things change.

Now, his family background affects us. About 2 years ago, he told me that he doesn't respect me. He has never been mean to me or insulted me. But he kept expecting me to be "better" than I am. We had constant struggles about me telling him to accept me for who I am. He decided to stop being so critical of me, but it doesn't seem like he was really able to accept me.

A couple months ago, I asked him to severe contact with a girl he had a crush on (because he forgot about a certain decision we made regarding this crush), it was heated. He didn't want to let her go without having a calm discussion with me. I was too threatened to have a calm discussion about it. The fight escalated into a breakup with him "realizing" that I wasn't fighting fairly. That was an eye-opener for him that I hadn't been fighting fairly for a while (which is true) and couple other expectations that he had weren't fulfilled. He aims for an amazing relationship which puts a lot of pressure on us. I am happy with a good relationship. I find his expectations to be too high.

After months of trying to resolve his feelings, we have finally reached a place (after years) where we can sit down and talk through the issues. He has always been interested in resolving issues in such a way that they never come up again.

Another big issue on my mind is that of commitment. I want the relationship to move forward, but he's scared. I am scared too and wonder if this actually is a good relationship for me. We get along well, we have similar intellectual interests, we 'get' each other... but things are difficult. I don't know if this can be salvaged. A couple months ago, I told him that I can give this relationship 4 more months to see if the issues can be resolved. We have made some changes, but I am not sure if I should stick around after those 4 months are over. I don't even know how to go about fixing the way things have been... I don't know what to do about things being difficult.

Oh, and I just found out he's avoidantly attached, whereas I am pretty much secure.

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