Have you ever thought, “Why is a relationship so difficult?” Are you sometimes feeling like raising another child instead of being equal partners? Do you feel exhausted by all the talk about change, yet nothing seems to be changing? Are you expecting your spouse to do things that aren’t fair? Are you guilty of feeling guilty about taking care of yourself …??
Continue reading if you answered “yes” even to one of these questions.
Loving “for Better” or “for Worse”
My mentors often wait too long for support when they need it. Therefore, they’ve built up many hurts and grievances–sometimes for years! Each one is eager to share their story to alleviate their pain. After listening to their stories and making sure they feel heard, I often ask them, “How would your relationship change if it were fun and filled with ease?”
They retort, “That’s the way it used to be!”
What’s the deal?
We ask this question because we think we have done something wrong. We’ve missed our chance at happiness ever after. We feel like a failure when we compare ourselves to happy couples.
But couples often ask the wrong questions. Family and social conditioning have taught us that no one should be rude, unloving or indifferent.
Human beings are flawed. We are still learning, recovering from childhood traumas and integrating the experiences that have taught us how to protect ourselves. To make that journey together, we need to be supported by each other.
What are our expectations of our partner?
One of the most important insights that I gained early in my marriage was that I expected my husband (or is it even possible) to be perfect. I expected my husband to be completely present to me, even though I was not present to his feelings or thoughts. I expected that he would apologize… ha! But I was holding him emotionally hostage. I expected that he would be affectionate and loving even when tired.
This realization transformed my life and my marriage. You can’t expect anything if you aren’t willing to give. We must give our partners what we want in every aspect. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for a couple to enter an Olympian competition.
What I learned and did was a significant change in the quality of our relationship.
I was determined to make my voice heard by becoming a great listener.
Acceptance is possible when I let go of my judgments and become more compassionate.
It was my responsibility to make my husband a priority if I wanted to feel a top priority.
It was a two-way road if I wanted him to support my pursuits and goals.
Expectations can lead to disappointment. We know that we have promised our spouses “for better or worse”, but they do not believe the worst is on the horizon. Because we have never seen it, we don’t know what the “worse” could look like. How can we tell if our partner is the same as us until we experience it?
- Are you a messy person or a tidy one?
- Are you selfish or selfless?
- Are you an extravagant saver or a hard-working spender?
- Are you a workaholic? Or do you follow your dream passionately?
- Are you depressed?
- A people-pleaser Or someone who leans towards conflict?
- Are you an adventure fan or a Netflix addict?
This list could go on.
The honeymoon feelings that cover all of our human flaws… We love them and soak in their perfect self as we see the person.
Until we don’t. Until we are greeted by life’s daily challenges, “for better and for worse”.
It’s not always easy to love.
It is important to love without judging our partner’s intricacies and flaws.
Sometimes love is fierce, sometimes it’s tender.
To have a healthy relationship, love must establish healthy boundaries.
Self-care is as important as partner care in love.
Love is a choice moment by moment.
As you grow together, celebrate imperfect love
When we share judgments for curiosity, blame for vulnerable empathy, and expectations (or entitlements) for intentional love, ease and light-heartedness are a part of a relationship.
Intentional love and attention are needed to maintain the honeymoon feelings in marriage and relationships.
After decades of happy and successful marriages, I can tell you:
- Do not sweat the little things!
- Be aware of what you love about your partner.
- Take care of each other.
- To rekindle the flames of love, make date night a priority.
- When life becomes too monotonous, mix it up.
Be everything you wish for in your partner.
Focus on love and understanding. You can’t get what you want from your partner unless you work on yourself. It doesn’t matter if that quality is compassion, humor, openness, empathy, humility, appreciativeness, financial management, kindness, or honesty.
Relationships are hard work. Have fun, and don’t be afraid to take on the challenges ahead.