Why, why why???  Why Are Relationships So Hard?

It usually starts out like a beautiful painted picture.  You meet someone one, fall head over heals in love and then one day you wonder what happened to your happily ever after.  Relationships are hard work: emotionally, mentally, and even physically.

I believe relationships are hard for several reasons:

1. People Come With Baggage

Yep I said it… PEOPLE COME INTO RELATIONSHIPS WITH BAGGAGE (including you and I)!  We all have a past whether we want to admit it or not.  Your partner may be dealing with trust issues from their last unfaithful relationship that they swore was going to last forever.  Or your partner may have been raised in an environment where he/she wasn’t use to open dialogue and there was little to no communication about life issues, so now they struggle with communicating and conflict resolution.  This can cause serious problems in your relationship.  You won’t be able to comprehend your partner’s thoughts and emotions because you haven’t lived through your partner’s experiences.  As a result you don’t understand why they act or react the way they do.  Other types of baggage include: family disputes, financial problems such as debt and health issues outside of their control.  Whether you like it or not, your partner’s past is coming with them, just as your past is coming with you.

2. Commitment Requires Work

At the beginning of a new year have you ever made a New Year Resolution, such as going to the gym and losing weight?  Then before January is even over you start falling off the bandwagon with the commitment to work out daily.  The same thing is true with relationships, especially long distance relationships.  You enter them with good intentions, however as everyday life proceeds and guards are let down, you realize that it takes a true commitment to stay with someone and accept them for both their good and bad. You shouldn’t be in a relationship wherein you can only 100% commit when circumstances of the relationship change. Either you’re in or your out! The one thing that’s guaranteed is that there will be great times and not so great times. There will be times you will always agree, and times you’ll never agree. But your promise to be there for that special person should remain.

3. Requires A Change In Mindset That You Are No Longer Single

If you’ve lived by yourself for years and was able to get up and go as you please without checking in with someone else, it’s hard to let go of that when you enter into a relationship.  When you add a significant other to the mix, it’s no longer about you.  Instead you now have to be considerate and think about your significant other.  You also have to act in a way that respects your partner and your relationship.  You don’t just do what you want to do without letting your partner know first as a courtesy.

4. Communication

Your partner may have been raised to avoid difficult conversations (especially where emotions and vulnerability are involved) like the plague, so he/she never learned how to have them. If your partner literally shuts down dialogue (key is to respond versus react) when you try to talk to him/her about serious topics concerning your relationship that’s a RED FLAG.

Questions like these should be a part of your conversations: Do you want to get married?  How long should we date before discussing marriage?  Is marriage a goal for our relationship? What roles should we each play in our marriage? Do you want kids? How many? Where should we live? How should we spend our money in marriage? How much should we save? What are the goals for our marriage?

You may be very surprised how asking such questions can show if you are both on the same page, chapter or even reading the same book! You don’t want to wait until you are 100% vested after dating for years to realize that you and your partner are not on the same page.  If you want to navigate disagreements, build trust, and get closer to someone, you have to talk about the tough things.  Either that or you just end up fighting about them or stop talking over them.  Relationships are built, not on the good times and agreements, but on your ability to talk about the tough stuff. Remember: IT TAKES TWO MATURE PEOPLE TO HAVE A MATURE CONVERSATION!

5. Expectations

You may be entering a relationship for love, while your partner is entering a relationship for other reasons.  For example he/she may be in a relationship with you because they need help, life for them may be easier and cheaper to live with a partner.  Or he/she may be in a relationship because they’ve just settled with the next person who happened to come into their life because that person gives them companionship. Whatever your expectations are, it’s good to keep in mind that your relationship won’t solve all your problems, and it won’t bring instant and everlasting happiness.

You may be friends with a couple who are married for 15 years and admire their relationship and how they communicate and demonstrate love to each other.  So now you expect to have that same exact dynamics in your relationship, which is not practical.  A miracle didn’t happen in the relationship that you admire, that couple spent those 15 years putting in the hard work and not just sitting around hoping for a miracle.  Don’t be blinded by fairy tale love stories and the picture perfect images of harmony you may see on your social media feed.  What you put in is what you can expect to get out!

6. Compromise

This was a big one for me and one of my ex’s several years ago.  It felt like he was stubborn as a mule.  We would always do things that he wanted or enjoyed. I mean I was out with him biking, golfing, swimming, playing tennis, hiking, grounding my feet to mother Earth (lol). You name it, we did it together and I eventually grew to enjoy those things because I was willing to compromise and try new things with him. But when we would make plans to do things I wanted to do he would always try to change them at the last minute.  I tried to explain to him over and over again that a relationship is a balance between your wishes and the wishes of your partner.  That means that sometimes you’ll have to sacrifice what you want.  That doesn’t mean you have to give up every part of who you are.

6. Lack of Forgiveness

Don’t let wounds fester! Every relationship has conflict and hurts. In every type of relationship (friendships, family, lovers, marriage, etc.) you have to forgive each other regularly.  You’ll have to both be OK with being right sometimes and wrong at other times. Often people equate forgiveness with weakness. But, in order to truly forgive, you have to first unconditionally love each other. Forgiveness is an essential component of successful relationships. In fact, the capacity to seek and grant forgiveness is one of the most significant factors contributing to relationship satisfaction and a lifetime of love.

Unforgiveness leads to resentment. Apologize to your partner when appropriate. This will validate their feelings, promote forgiveness, and allow you both to move on. This may be a hard pill to swallow but, in a loving relationship you have to stop playing the role of victim. After all, we are all imperfect and deserve compassion. That said, if you have a very hard time forgiving, the very first place to start is prayer: ask God for the grace to decide to forgive just like He has forgiven you and I.

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