If we think that relationships ‘just happen’ and ‘just work’ then they are doomed to fail. The reality of the situation is that we put effort into everything else we do in life, our careers, our skills, our body image, fitness, our homes, our friendships, but yet we expect our romantic couple relationships to not just work, but be great by default.
I recently read a book called The Course of Love by Alain De Botton, which beautifully follows a couple through their relationship journey. The highs, the lows, and everything in between. Relationships move through stages and phases and we often talk about couples moving from in love to loving.
The start of relationships are exciting and full of novelty, it’s about discovery as we get to know each other and the important point being that we go above and beyond to make the effort with that person in order to make them ours. As we grow more familiar with each other, and get used to each other’s individualities like anything we acclimatise. We have to learn to balance and manage life alongside these relationships and juggle everything we are doing.
Our relationships although maintaining important, slip down the priority list and aren’t always front of mind, because once the relationship is established we have the security to let go slightly and not hold on so tight. But this is where we can also get complacent. Without realising we stop making any effort and as humans, especially in our intimate relationships we need exactly that, to feel intimate, to be regularly reminded of the closeness that we have with this person and for it to be explicit rather than assumed.
This is the space in which many couples struggle.
The Disney vision of very easily and happily ever after just isn’t the reality, we have jobs and careers to manage, bills to pay, commutes, stress, kids and families and in the context of this our relationships can feel like they aren’t doing as well as they used to at the start. But the reality is we are, we are navigating it all.
It’s unrealistic for the honeymoon period to continue throughout our whole relationships, as we would simply, not get anything achieved. Our relationships would take up all the space. But so often couples speak of yearning for “how it used to be” rather than celebrating the different stage that their relationship is in.
Many couples get stuck with this idea, the relationship between is no longer the ideal that they imagined, but what is forgotten is that we don’t have that intimacy, trust and security at the start of a relationship, it develops as we get to know each other, we transfer the excitement and the novelty and the unknown for something sustainable enough to hold us.
So to be successful in relationships we must consider them as a journey; with which comes the expected of bumps, turns in the roads, the unexpected, the surprising and sometimes the mundane.
The most important point being that it is not that you experience these things, it’s how you deal with them that makes the difference.
The mistake that couples make is that they assume things will just ‘work themselves out’ and like a journey, if you think you are heading in the wrong direction you should stop, work out where you are going wrong, reassess and then try and get back on track, you wouldn’t just continue to drive in the wrong direction away from where you want to get to, because all it would do would be to take you further away.
Couples are afraid of these conversations, but actually the result of not having them is more damaging. Instead we should be accepting of these changes and stages, Esther Perel famously said:
We will have many relationships over the course of our lives. Some of us will have them with the same person.
Pic1: Annebarlinckoff – Pic2:A.r – Pic3: Pansyco