Love is not supposed to hurt, and relationships were never designed for us to suffer or struggle. But why do many of us struggle with relationships?
When you fall in love, you want to believe that a loving connection will always be present in your relationship. You want the good times to last forever, but when the other person does not reciprocate the way you expect them to, or when they stop reciprocating the way they used to, you feel as though you failed somewhere along the way; and whatever is happening is a consequence of your failure. Why else would it be happening?
You try to figure out what you did wrong so you can fix the problem. You feel that if you knew exactly what went wrong, you could make everything right (again).
You try harder and harder thinking that if you just work at it a little harder, or if you just do one more thing, you will get the situation fixed. You read relationship books, download articles and podcasts, frequent blogs, learn techniques, talk to “experts” and attend workshops, all in search of any information, any encouraging words which say “hang in there, your hard work will pay off”.
For a while this seems productive and may even improve things a little. But sooner or later, other problems show up. No matter what action you take, nothing can make everything right (again). All you get is more frustration, more stress, more worry and more fear.
Like most people in struggling relationships, you genuinely believe that you’re struggling because something is wrong with your partner. If only you could make him/her see your point of view. If only you could get him/her to be a certain way, act a certain way. If only he/she did more of this or less of that everything would be fine.
Like most you don’t realize that your frustration, stress, worry and fear is a result of how YOU are reacting to what is happening.
Anytime we try to force a relationship to happen or to work in a particular way — often it’s the way we envisioned, expected, and planned — we will meet with resistance either from within us or from the other person. And if we react to their resistance with resistance of our own, we’ll struggle, the relationship will struggle despite our best intentions.
When all seems to have failed and you are short of calling quits on your relationship, stop and ask yourself if how you are approaching the situation may be the problem.
1. Do you have a struggle mentality?
I personally believe that a struggle mentality is something passed on us by our parents or significant care givers, but that’s a topic for another article.
If you are not sure if you have a struggle mentality or not, look at your life in general. Do you find yourself in one emotional drama after another (constant conflict with others, being “misunderstood all the time, constantly apologizing for things you didn’t “intend” to happen a certain way, making “stupid mistakes” all the time, etc; sometimes to the extent that it affects your quality of your life?
This is where the “work” to remove struggle from your relationship needs to start.
2. Are you focusing more on the problem and/or your partner?
People who focus on their external circumstances or what others are “doing” often react to things as “victims” rather than creators. Victim reactions are defensive (whether the hurt is real, imaginary or self-created); and it’ that defensiveness that creates struggle.
Start focusing on you more. What are you responsible for? What can you change? How can you nurture your well-being and not have to rely on the relationship/and or your partner to do it for you?
You can get more done to improve your relation simply by saying good-bye to struggle and struggle responses. Yes, you can achieve what you want without having to try so hard, or chase after it so hard that you can’t enjoy the experience or the relationship.