In life, anything we value takes a degree of hard work to give rewarding results. That goes for our relationships too. The real question is ‘do you have to put effort into a relationship to make it work successfully?’ the answer is an unequivocal ‘yes’.

Imagine what would happen if you put a seedling in a flower pot, and then shoved it in a dark cold cupboard. Without good soil full of nutrients, water and light for it to flourish and grow into a healthy plant, it will wither and die.

It’s just the same with a relationship. It too needs loving care and attention for it to flourish and create a happy, healthy and flourishing relationship.

Should relationships be hard work

At the beginning, you each need to learn about the other, and how you each function in the world. You need to learn about each other’s likes and dislikes. Don’t assume your partner sees the world in the same way you do. If you imagine that you have a map of China and your partner has a map of German, your map would be totally different from the other’s. Added to which if you each grew up in those separate countries you would have experienced contrasting life experiences, cultures and customs. Each of which would give you a different perspective.

Just because your partner has a different viewpoint, it doesn’t mean it’s wrong – just different from yours. By listening to each other openly and without judgement you are likely to learn something new and have a better understanding. But as time goes by our views can change. This can either keep your relationship alive and vibrant – or difficult and stressful depending on your outlook. So yes, you still need to put the work in.

The level of hard work depends on the willingness on each person to cooperate and make an effort. Too often couples get embroiled in power struggles, which means they work against each other.

It’s a common scenario, as each feels a need to maintain their independence and sense of self. You may feel your partner is taking advantage of you, or taking you for granted, and so you rebel and become stroppy and resentful. You don’t want the other person to control you, so you stand your ground. This can result in stand-offs as each person protects their territory, whether physically or emotionally. That’s when the bickering and sniping starts, especially if you haven’t talked openly about your feelings.

That can often mean allowing yourself to be vulnerable, putting your trust in another person, which can feel scary, as that means giving up a degree of control. The feelings that arise as a result may make you feel anxious. This is especially true if it taps into unpleasant past events. Perhaps someone let you down in the past when you allowed your defences down, and you really don’t want that to happen again.

By trusting in each other and allowing yourself to be vulnerable, you are allowing a better way. By having open discussions about the things that are bothering you, negotiating with each other, working as a team to find a solution that works for you both. Of course, you won’t always get your own every time. Life just isn’t like that, not just in relationships.

The alternative is all-out war, with each person doing their own thing, being completely selfish and stubborn, like a stroppy adolescent, and I’m sure many of you know how much hard work that can be.

You can either work together as a team, having fun along the way, or work against each other, causing stress and disharmony every step of the way. So, the choice is really up to you.

Article by Wendy Capewell. For more advice, visit her website: yourrelationshipspecialist.co.uk

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