Are romantic relationships naturally work or has something gone wrong when it feels like work? We argue and sometimes can’t see eye to eye, but that’s just a part of a working relationship. Right? We have our ups and downs as the saying goes, but we love each other and that’s what really matters. Or is it?
Once, I dated someone for about a year, which for him was pretty long. That probably should have been a sign for me, but for the first time, I was head over heels in love. The attraction was there, we cared about each others feelings and lives, but we tended to argue. Personally, I found it to be a sign that we were willing to be ourselves and to be open. But the words that I remember him saying were, ” I know not every couple fights.” He said it like he was sure something was wrong. It struck me and made me wonder if that were true, could there be relationships out there that are simple, peaceful and just fun loving? It made me doubt my own relationship values, my own imagining of what a working relationship looks like. My values towards relationships urged me to honor and respect communication. I understood that we could be free to voice our opinions and feelings and be healthier together because of that. But it shook me to think that fighting to voice those opinions and feelings was somehow dysfunctional and hurt my relationships. Clearly, I started to blame myself.
But, and it’s a strong and powerful but, sometimes it takes a healthy and new relationship to help put one that was not actually good into perspective. Needless to say, that romantic episode, with the head over heels for you guy, ended and I later started and still have a relationship that clarifies for me the question; are romantic relationships work or has something gone wrong when they feel like work?
If you find yourself asking, is this working or is this too much work, or thinking, shouldn’t we just feel the love and be having fun most of the time, well you’ve probably got some juicy girl/guy talk going with your friends! 😉 Worrying tends to send us asking our friends or whoever will listen, but ask yourself, can I turn to the one I love for an answer that will feel loving and supportive? There is where you will find your best answer because what are you working for if not for someone to share love with? And figuring it out together is love.
Yes, it takes internal emotional, mental and spiritual work to have a lasting loving romantic relationship. But why is that? Simply because we are people, we are human beings with our own junk, values, opinions and half understood feelings. And it’s natural to clash because we are different.
What matters is if we heal together and grow stronger in response.
So yes, effort, energy, understanding and acceptance is often helpful for healing. And that can feel like work. It takes self work to set aside our egos that say “I’m right, your wrong” and instead say “I care. This is what I need.” Or “I love you, I want to help you heal.” and actually mean it. Even realizing our own needs in relationships and standing up for them can feel like work. But all around, it’s love and self love.
Now, when is the work actually more work than love? Your heart for sure knows this, but sometimes the mind doesn’t see it so clearly (Or isn’t ready yet to accept it). The spirit knows as well. Close your eyes, put your hands over your heart and ask, “Does this relationship bring me the love that I need?” Ask this again, in the same way aloud, but with one hand on your partners’ heart and one in their hand and open your hearts together. If what you receive from your partner is anger, resentment or just in general a lack of support, then there is an imbalance between the love that exists and the work that was put in to bring you closer. If it’s worth it, you’ll have love squeezing your hand right back.
Often, we bring our own emotional “baggage” filled with fears and negativity and it’s our partners who love us, who value the work needed to help us through it so that we can be healthy and happy together. It is our partners who can confirm for us that the work is working. Luckily for me, instead of a relationship that said that the arguing is a bad sign, I found one that said it’s natural to express yourself and let me help us make it a loving expression.
Keeping the balance between being ourselves and being our loving selves can be work. Is it working for you? What your highest self, your spirit, your heart say? Mine says, you already know.