For years I believed the notion that all relationships are hard. Experts, books and even the media all played out the message that relationships aren’t easy, are naturally filled with strife and that conflict and “fighting” just comes with the territory. Since all of the other relationship “experts” were passing on the same message, I thought they must be right. In fact, I felt like I had to hide the fact that my relationship wasn’t hard. I thought maybe there was something I was missing. I thought that perhaps other relationship “experts” knew better than I.
For a long time I ignored my gut. I tell women all the time to “trust that you know what you know,” yet in this area I failed to follow my own advice. I passed on the message to clients that relationships are hard. I quietly shrugged my shoulders in agreement when friends and family members rolled their eyes and sighed that relationships should be easier. And now...I’m done. I’m done buying into all that hype about how hard relationships are and even more done with passing on that dangerous message. Instead, I’m going to tell you the hard truth about relationships.
Great relationships aren’t hard. Healthy relationships, in fact, are comforting, nice to be in and great to come home to. They make life easier. They don’t leave you crying, feeling like hell or wondering if anyone will ever love you. Great relationships leave you feeling good about yourself. They feel easy, rewarding and like a gift that you’re grateful to experience. Great relationships don’t require endless hours of “communication,” problem-solving or painful conversations. Although there are certainly hard conversations from time to time, they’re hard because sometimes life is hard. They’re not hard because you feel unsafe or fearful that your partner will shame you, dismiss you or shut you down. They’re not hard because you don’t feel heard or can’t get through to your partner. The hard conversations are hard because of the content, not because of the person with whom you’re discussing the content. Great relationships have an underlying foundation of equality, mutuality, love and cherishing. Both people are respectful, even in the toughest of times, because there’s a mutual desire to help and support one another. Great relationships make life easier.
The reality is that bad relationships are hard. Unhealthy relationships make life difficult. These kinds of relationships are “naturally” filled with strife and upset. They don’t feel good to come home to. Yelling, dismissing, defensiveness, lack of accountability, belittling, addiction, lying, harsh comments and lack of interaction are common in unhealthy relationships. These are the things that make those relationships VERY HARD. Don’t confuse great relationships, though, with not-so-great relationships. There’s a huge difference. Not being heard, intense anger, hurtful comments, lying, cheating, ignoring and contempt are common in poor relationships; they are NOT common in healthy ones.
Messages like Relationships are hard and Love hurts are dangerous messages that set people up for bad relationships. If your relationship is hard day in and day out or more days than not, something’s wrong. Relationships should NOT be that hard. Great relationships feel easy, comforting and great to come home to. Although you may hit bumps, have moments of upset and periods of feeling more distant than you’d like, these are all short-lived MIT’s (moments in time).
Go for great in your relationships…it’s so worth it. Stop settling for less and thinking that’s the “norm;” it isn’t.
Challenge: Take a hard look at your relationship. Have you been normalizing a bad relationship under the guise of “all relationships are hard?” If so, it’s time to re-calibrate. Pay attention to the areas where you’ve been settling and tune into how and why. Commit to go for great!