Should you continue to ‘work’ on it?

Marriage or a committed relationship should not be hard; it should be easy, loving and happy. Sure you hear all about needing to ‘work’ at the relationship but what does this mean exactly.

I actually dislike the term ‘work’ on the relationship or ‘relationships take work’ and we hear this often. I believe those that say this have either not had a happy, loving relationship or have no idea how to create one. How therefore do we know if this relationship we are investing time and effort into is worth it. Is it because “I love him / her?” No, it isn’t actually that simple.

I ask individuals who may be struggling in their relationship when they come in the discover if they really want to stay with the person, what is it about this person you share your life with? What makes you happy, feel loved and are close with, being able to share all your thoughts, dreams, fears and goals with?

I often receive a blank look then a range of explanations or excuses about their partner. Why they are with them, what this partner use to be like, how they once made them feel. Then I commence to break down what it is they really want and need in a partner before reading it back to determine if their chosen partner actually fits these criteria.

Unfortunately it often doesn’t, hence the reason they end up in the Counselling room unhappy with their relationship and life. To be happy in love means exactly that ‘happy’ not continually arguing, disrespecting or devaluing your partner. It means listening, understanding, respecting and accepting them while being able to discuss quietly any differences you both experience.

Never a voice needs to be raised, never a demeaning comment should be said and absolutely never an insult uttered. This is not love. How then do we know if this relationship is worth working on together and spending some time in the Counselling room to attain communication abilities to enable us to talk, listen and understand our partner. It depends if both partners want to make the changes and are prepared to out in some effort and make changes to improve their relationship.

How do we know if we are in a salvageable relationship or simply in love with the memory of what it once was? How do we know we are not kidding ourselves and if the relationship can be improved? What questions do we need to ask to give us a guide:

  1. You find yourself conceding for the sake of peace.

If you are forever conceding the point or giving in simply to get some peace with your partner then this is not respectful communication. If you compromise your opinion regularly because your partner pounds you into subservient agreement, this is disrespectful, inappropriate and not an equal partnership. We may not expect sunshine everyday but we certainly should expect brightness in our day, every day.

We should expect this chosen partner to be kind, supportive and loving every day. We expect our partner to accept at times our opinion is different to theirs and that is OK because we are both human beings and entitled to our own personal opinion and choices. Marriage shouldn’t be stressful to maintain. You may have some stressful periods, but these are simply that, a stressful period. This should be quickly, within hours, followed by a hug, kiss, a sorry and a check-in – with ‘are you alright?’

  1. You feel unfulfilled much of the time

We feel unfulfilled if we are ignored, either in person or opinion. If your partner continually dismisses what you say or tells you that you are wrong and they are right, this is dangerous and can leave us empty, sad and hurt. As an adult we all have and are entitled to an opinion of our own.

Certainly we should listen to another opinion and either accept it, accept part of it or dismiss it respectfully. Never should we dismiss it as wrong because it is not, it is their opinion and they have an entitlement to their opinion. It becomes a question of ethics and standards.

If your partner has an opinion so different yours ethically then this is a real red-flag and discussion needs to take place either calmly together of with a Counsellor, but take place it should. It is only when both partners are able to stop, listen and accept their partners opinion with respect, can a conversation be held without fighting or an argument. We need this to feel heard and we are fulfilled when our opinion is accepted and respected.

  1. Spending time together is worse than being alone.

When we get to the stage in our relationship that we prefer to spend time apart or even alone instead of being with our partner, this is a major problem. We enjoy spending time with someone thoughtful, kind, affectionate and loving who speaks with us, not to us and who listens and respects our conversations and opinions.

We enjoy spending time with a companion, friend and someone that makes us feel happy and cherished. If these qualities are not currently in your life or relationship then help is needed or reassessment of your relationship may need to be undertaken. Ask yourself and your partner, why are we together, what is it we want from life, from each other and for our future?

It can be confronting to have this type of conversation but in the end it is best to have it sooner rather than later because it will either enable you to rectify any issue or decide you are both moving into a different direction and away from the other person. While this can be a difficult conversation it can save so much heartache in the long run and allow each of you to move towards true happiness with another.

  1. You are exhausted trying to resolve or improve things.

If you truly believe you have continued to try to rectify and improve the relationship, discuss the issues and still are not getting anywhere.

You have tried Counselling and this has not helped either of you, then now is the time to re-evaluate your relationship. I see many couples or individual members depressed, anxious and unhappy in their current relationship and while I applaud them trying to stay to work things out, if the partner is not able or willing to be proactive and take some responsibility to rectify the relationship, then it is a bit like banging your head against a brick wall.

You will only end up with a dreadful headache. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result.

  1. You continually make excuses for your partners’ behaviour

A marriage or committed relationship requires effort, understanding and the desire for both people to grow as individuals and as a couple. Marriage requires two people who accept the other person as they are and who want to spend time together to work on issues and problems that come up.

If you feel you are continually making excuses or stories for your partner’s behaviour, language and comments due to their stress, hard day at work and so it continues, this is not acceptable. While many of us can have the bad day, to be continually making excuses for them will not serve you well and often ends up making you just angry or frustrated.

There is considerable help available for people now to access professional assistance and support, if your partner refuses to seek help, there may be little you can do. If they do seek help, support them and hope they are able to manage their issues for the benefit of your relationship. It is not about changing the other person to be as you want or need them to be. A good marriage or relationship should never be constant work. It should be harmonious, happy, united and easy.

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