I once heard someone describe marriage as walking on hot coals. I think this is an accurate analogy. Relationships are hard and a marriage especially takes a lot of work to maintain. Some married couples appear to be super happy all the time. But you don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. People can seem happy on the outside and yet they are struggling on the other side of that door.
That doesn’t mean that marriage isn’t worth it. It just means that it takes a lot of effort and communication from both parties. The tough thing in any relationship is when trust is broken. You can mend that trust but it takes hard work. Regain the trust of your partner in any way that makes sense to you, but I believe that the best way to mend your relationship is to talk to your partner. Whatever that means for you, whether it means having a one-on-one conversation in private or seeing a couples therapist on a regular basis; both of those are viable options.
I used to think that when my romantic relationships were challenging that there was something wrong with me; Now I know that that isn’t true. What is true is that it sometimes feels like a relationship is ending when in reality something needs to shift or change. When the thought enters my mind that I am a failure at romantic relationships, I turn to that thought and say “I now pronounce you ridiculous.” Because it is a silly thought to think that you “failed” at a relationship. A partnership means that two people are involved; two people that have distinctive personalities. A relationship isn’t a failure because two people are having trouble connecting. It just means that two people are having difficulty understanding one another.
And the truth is that we don’t always understand each other in life. Life is full of miscommunications and misunderstandings. This is certainly present in romantic relationships and marriages. So what’s the answer? How do we work through these crossed communication wires? We try our hardest to see things from the other person’s point of view. We stop ourselves from being judgmental and instead curb that impulse and be supportive. Maybe you don’t understand what your partner wants or needs, and if you don’t then ask them.
Making assumptions about what your partner is thinking or feeling is what leads to communication break down and resentment. I have personally seen resentment mutilate relationships. So instead of being resentful because you aren’t getting your needs met, ask for what you want. I know how hard this is, because I struggle with it too. But maybe we can all work on this. Perhaps there’s a way to get what you want from your partner by being honest. It’s also about reciprocity; you give your partner what he’s asking for and then he gives you what you need.
Have you struggled with how hard relationships seem to be? What is your greatest challenge?
A version of this post was previously published on huffpost.com and is republished here with permission from the author.
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