BIGGEST RELATIONSHIP MYTH IT'S SIMPLY LINDSAY

It’s hard to avoid it, the biggest relationship myth. Everyone tells it to us. Family, friends, chick flicks, books, magazines, music lyrics – heck, we even propagate this myth to ourselves.

Relationships are hard work.

Relationships aren’t supposed to be simple.

Relationships are messy.

Or, as Coldplay simply puts it, “Nobody said it was easy.”

Wait, you’re wondering, how is this a myth? Relationships are hard work. Good relationships aren’t supposed to be easy. My relationship is messy.

Before you angrily close the page or write me an irritated comment, hear me out.

The Biggest Relationship Myth

I have a pretty good feeling we will be on the same page at the end of all of this, and you will agree with me that, in fact, telling ourselves relationships are hard work is the biggest relationship myth.

The purpose of relationships

Someone once asked me why I got married, and I don’t know why, but it made me uneasy, like I was being trapped or it was a trick question. It seemed too simple, too straightforward of an answer that I wasn’t even sure why it was a question. I couldn’t come up with a concise answer on the spot, but it’s very simple to me why I got married. It’s the same reason for entering any intimate relationships, such as close friendships – yes, those are intimate, too; you can be intimate without physical intimacy.

So the reason I choose my relationships is because they make me feel good; they make my life easier and more enjoyable; they add meaning to my life; they’re there to celebrate victories and divide life’s burdens. By sharing everything, the good and the bad, these people give me purpose, intention, and significance.

Annoyances are normal

Whether it’s a significant other, spouse, or friend, when you’re sharing your life with someone, aggravations are bound to exist. These irritations are sure to compound when you’re sharing a space because no matter how much you love and care for someone, everyone has their preferences. You have a strong aversion to hair on the bathroom floor yet your ‘other’ doesn’t notice; you wake up early, your ‘other’ sleeps in; you need alone time and space, but your ‘other’ is always around.

Trust me, I get it – that’s why I think the college quad bedroom design is the evilest space around. That’s your university saying, “hey, here are four perfectly nice people. Let’s see how quickly we can turn them into devilish monsters.” But I digress.

Yes, annoyances based on living habits and lifestyles are inevitable, but isn’t the point of relationships to ultimately find someone you’re compatible with? Someone whose pleasures far exceeds the irritations? I think we would all resoundingly agree here.

Recap

Are we on the same page still? We seek relationships to add happiness to our lives, to share our triumphs and struggles with others, and to ultimately add meaning to our existence. Obstacles, arguments, and annoyances are normal and bound to occur, but ultimately the support and joy should far outweigh the problems.

Self-fulfilling prophecy

My problem with the myth of saying relationships are meant to be hard is that it feels like we’re setting ourselves up for failure. To me, this myth takes us into dangerous territory of being a self-fulfilling prophecy, leading us to stay in poor relationships, fail to work on broken relationships, and settle for the people we surround ourselves with.

Relationships are hard work? Then it’s okay that my husband and I are fighting and unhappy.

Relationships aren’t supposed to be easy? Then it’s normal that I’m exhausted and emotionally drained.

Relationships are messy? Then we don’t need to change anything.

No, no, no! If you’re fighting and unhappy, figure out why and work together towards fixing the problem for good. If you’re exhausted and emotionally drained, communicate that to your partner so you can work together towards fixing the problem. If you’re in a messy relationship, determine whether the mess is worth cleaning up.

By telling ourselves and others that relationships aren’t supposed to be easy, we’re allowing an excuse to settle for a partner or friend, settle in bad habits, settle in unhealthy behavior, settle in poor communication. Dust settles. You should not settle. Because seriously, how annoying and unnecessary is filthy, obstinate dust? You always think, why didn’t I just clean it up at the first sign of untidiness?

Lasting thoughts

If a relationship statement is going to be a self-fulfilling prophecy, why not make it these instead?

Relationships are fulfilling.

Relationships are enjoyable.

Relationships are rewarding.

That way, if our relationship deviates from those paths, we’re more apt to figure out what’s wrong, fix the problem, and get back on the path to happiness.

I implore you: Don’t romanticize the messy Meredith and Derrick Grey’s Anatomy relationships. Don’t be tempted by the beautiful dysfunction of Scandal’s Olivia and Fitz. Don’t get desensitized by all of the dysfunctional media relationships because truly, relationships don’t have to be hard. In fact, they can be quite simple, fun, and incredible.

Are you with me? Are you ready to throw out the notion and stop spreading the word that relationships are hard work?

Everywhere
  • Yes! I’m absolutely right there with you! Relationships are hard but they’re so totally amazingly worth it when you’re with the right person! We need to encourage the positive and stop weighing on the negative!

  • YES!!! Ethan and I have a very easy, fun marriage! Any time I’m asked for advice for newlyweds, I tell them that if it’s not hard, it doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong!!!

  • Rachel Whelan

    I love this! My parents have always hated the phrase “relationships are work” too! I got really lucky that they have such a strong relationship and taught me that I should never settle. I hate that the media glamorizes these romantic, messy, drama-filled relationships. I think it’s part of the reason why so many people are in abusive relationships, especially people my age, because they have a sad, skewed perception of what a relationships should be like. Breaks my heart. I wish more people understood this.

  • YES YES YES!
    I’ve said this so many times before. I’m not saying my husband never annoys me. I’m not saying we’ve never disagreed. But being married to him is NOT HARD.
    When we first got married, I wondered if I thought that because we were newlyweds. “Surely it will get harder.”
    It hasn’t. It won’t.
    I know we’ll go through hard times – everyone does, and if I’m honest I feel like we’re there right now. Life is messy right now. It’s scary and it’s frustrating. But with my husband? Easy peesy lemon squeezy.

  • Aw I loved the bit you included about Grey’s !! Trevor gets so angry watching that show because of how “effed up their relationship is”. Love that you wrote this post and I completely agree. Relationships should be easy, and I believe that if over 50% of the time you are exhausted trying to make it work…maybe it shouldn’t be that way. Trevor and I have had our ups and downs but overall it’s very easy. We are best friends and lovers.

  • Candy Kage

    I have tried relationships that were just to much work, needless to say they went away.

  • Totally with you! My last relationship I was stuck in the mindset of “nothing is easy” and it takes work. Which it does, but it should 1) be equal work and 2) be an acceptable amount of work/pleasure. In the end, it obviously wasn’t worth it.

    My new relationship, I always say this to my boyfriend and he agrees. It just works. We’ve definitely had our quarrels here and there but fulfilling, rewarding, and enjoyable are three huge key words that absolutely apply to my current relationship.

  • Oh Lindsay, this is SO good. I really hated it when people would tell me during my engagement that marriage is so hard, that I was saying goodbye to freedom, that we’d eventually stop liking each other one day, etc. How on earth does that help me prepare for marriage, except to expect the worst? I agree that we put hard work into our marriages so that they can be fulfilling and enjoyable. Now when I talk about marriage, I definitely don’t play it off like it’s easy, but I absolutely celebrate my husband and champion marriage. It’s so good!

  • My husband and I have been together since we were young teenagers, and that came with a lot of work. We were growing up together, and we didn’t always have the same ideas in mind. We knew we were each others soul mate, but it took work to get to where we are today. It was also worth every moment. There isn’t anyone who gets me better than him, and we are each others best friend. Relationships are work, but it should be the good kind of work. It’s fun getting to know about each other, learning to shift as you get older, and enjoying as much of the other person as possible. We’ve been together for almost 12 years in total [married for 5 1/2], and I couldn’t imagine living my life with anyone else. The thing we have to keep reminding ourselves of is having fun. Often times we fall into a routine, and forget to do fun things with each other. But it’s these times that keep our spark bright.

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Erin, that’s adorable that you and your husband have been together since teenagers!!! The most work I have had to put in my relationship was in the early years (college-aged), where I was still growing up and figuring out myself. The work may be necessary but it should be good : )

  • I am totally with you! I feel like this was a lesson I learned through a few bad relationships when I was younger. One of the things that struck me about being with my current boyfriend was how easy it was. Even moving in together was totally seamless, like, we did it by mistake seamless and then just rolled with it (and here we are two years later!)

    I think there’s also a lot of misleading relationship advice out there. One of my LEAST favourites is “Don’t go to bed angry” – If it’s 3 am and you’re fighting. Stop. Tell each other you love each other and GO TO BED ANGRY. You’ll wake up in the morning far more rational and able to discuss than if you try to fight it out sleepless.

  • Chrissa – Physical Kitchness

    GREAT post! Relationships are work, but if they are more work than not, RED flag! There will always be challenges and hard times, but loving that person should come easy (on most days) hehehe.

  • Yeah, relationships require effort and time, but I don’t think of it as “hard work” that I don’t enjoy – rather, there are many things I enjoy that I put a lot of work into. I think of it more like that.

  • Leslie Soto

    This is what I needed right now. Relationships are messy and that’s okay because it’s how you handle those messes that matter. It’s how you take care of the problems that arise that make your relationships stronger. Most days, loving should be easy but it’s never without it’s curves.

  • Hmmm. I mostly agree. I absolutely agree that that can become a bad self-fulfilling prophecy and that we shouldn’t fall into. The only thing I would add, is that some people who have expected perfection in a relationship will throw a great thing away just because it doesn’t bring them ultimate satisfaction, or isn’t perfect. At that point, people need to know t hat relationships are not perfect, and therefore not easy, so that they step back into reality. Otherwise though, I agree and I love what you have to say and how you say it!

    • Lindsay Katherine

      I’m with you, Kristin – you touched on the opposite side of the negative self-fulfilling prophecy, which I hadn’t even though of! Certainly there are people with too high of expectations for a perfect relationship. Great point ; )

  • Relationships require a lot of effort from both sides to make it work on the long run. It is hard work but not in a negative way.

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Yes! Exactly!!

  • I agree with this mostly. It definitely can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, but I definitely believe meaningful relationships do take some type of work.

    • Lindsay Katherine

      I agree with you, too! I think where I’m coming from is that work doesn’t have to be a bad thing – I have to work to stay fit, but that’s not bad kind of work.

  • Kelsie Kleinmeyer

    I definitely agree that we shouldn’t make excuses for things and push them off because relationships are just “hard’. In reality, there are parts of them that can be challenging, but I think these are things to tackle and work through. And relationships are so beautiful and wonderful too. Interesting perspective, and thanks for sharing this!

  • I love this perspective!! The fact that “relationships are hard” should never be our rationale for why the issues in our marriage are okay. And while relationships are hard work, your biggest takeaway from your marriage should NOT be that it’s hard work, or hard, or messy. The biggest takeaway should be that it’s rewarding and amazing and worth every bump in the road.

  • I totally agree with you! My relationship has always been easy. And, things do get messy, we quickly get to the root of the problem and make changes to strengthen our relationship. I like that you mention that relationships should make you feel happier and more fulfilled. Yes, yes, yes!

  • Kathryn

    Thank you for saying this! It needs to be said. It always surprises me how many people I know are in relationships that are clearly unfulfilling or are pursuing relationships that are having problems before they’ve truly begun. Your lasting thoughts are on point.

  • Totally agree with all of this! No relationship is perfect, but it should be something that ultimately is rewarding!

  • I really enjoyed reading your perspective on this topic! You are exactly right with the media relationships and how our society constantly tells us about how messy and difficult relationships are. We definitely expect and focus on the worse parts about them and don’t appreciate the positive things. It’s all about perspective!

  • Amanda K

    This was a good read. I have been married for almost 2 years and I definitely agree that we need to have our own space.

    xx,
    Amanda || http://www.fortheloveofglitter.com

  • What a great post! I think that it’s important to give your significant other space and time and that you two are able to pick your battles and work through your issues. 🙂

    xoxo, Jenny

  • I’m totally with you! I actually started talking to my now husband because of something he wrote…relationships don’t have to be hard. That was the biggest selling point to me because I had just got out of a really hard, messy relationship. With my husband, it hasn’t always been easy, but we don’t have tons of drama, and he makes my life easier, and he is my true partner.

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Aww that’s so nice, Shann! That’s how I think all relationships should be – at least, that’s the hope – and I think it’s completely attainable too!

  • Well written, Lindsay! When reading I just kept thinking “yes, yes, yes why didn’t I think of this!” I really believe in the power of positive thinking so why should looking at our relationships be any different! Thank you.

    • Lindsay Katherine

      haha aw thanks Erin! That means a lot coming from you : )

  • Emily Bendler

    While I don’t completely agree, I don’t completely disagree either. I think it’s easy to stay in a relationship where you fight and are unhappy. People stay in miserable relationships all the time because it would be harder to leave or resolve. The hard part is actually resolving those issues, communicating openly and being vulnerable which is totally worth it when you have a good partner. Those things are easier with a good partner, but that’s what makes relationships hard. Not the arguments, but putting in the effort to resolve them.

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Thanks for reading and weighing in, Emily! All relationships are unique, that’s for sure, so while some great relationships may require a lot of effort, others may not; but either way, I think by focusing on the positives, everyone wins and is motivated to strive for happiness.

  • Mayra Murillo

    I whole heatedly agree! I think when you meet the right person the relationship flows. They compliment you as much as you compliment them. You don’t have to always agree on everything but the respect of individual ideas is there.

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Totally agree with you!

  • Thought this was pretty good. I think as society and the generations before us have done us a disservice. They didn’t talk about their problems with us so that we had a real idea of how relationships work and then society makes divorce or not getting married/not keeping both parties responsible for kids so much easier. Then because we don’t talk about it with our girls well enough, and our boys, both have false ideals of what a partner should be that when the true self comes out, everyone is unhappy. Even the statistics show that so many marriages/relationships end in such and such a way that it gives you a sense of dread. Instead of noting the positives, we always highlight the negatives. And until we start highlighting the positives and talking about the negatives in ways that you can solve to maintain happiness, the myth will always be there.

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Yes, completely agree with you Amanda. Thanks for your insightful comment.

  • Great post and I agree. I think the relationships that are “hard work” maybe shouldn’t be relationships at all. I would say my marriage is definitely work, but like any relationship, if you aren’t working on it, then you become complacent and stagnant and you can’t grow together. If it’s the right relationship it will flow. 🙂
    -Linh

  • I look at it this one: relationships require work, time and attention put in by both people in order to make them strong. But I disagree with the notion that you should have to work hard to be with someone. Being with that person should be the easiest thing you ever do. Does that mean you should never work on communicating better or supporting each other? No. It means that you should work even harder at that. But you shouldn’t have to work hard to be with them.

    • Lindsay Katherine

      I totally agree with you Rachel!!!

  • Paige Allison

    Ohhh, I like what Rachel said below! That relationships require work but aren’t inherently hard work. I think the goal of this saying, or myth as you call it, is that you can’t become complacent in your relationship. Sometimes it requires a little more effort on your end; sometimes on their end; sometimes it’s effortless and totally enjoyable; sometimes you get to be the taker and then the next day you need to give give give. That’s all “work” and it’s required for a great relationship. But I see what you’re saying, and agree – if you set the standard at “work” and use it as an excuse to remain in a miserable relationship, then yeah – you’re doing it wrong!

    Although I’ll tell you, I know some people who thrive in chaotic and dramatic relationships. I totally don’t get it, either.

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Yes, go Rachel – totally agree. I think we’re saying and feeling the same thing, I just don’t like the negative association with work on relationships. It’s like if you look at working out as an arduous, draining part of your day- then it won’t be something you look forward to or fulfilling.

  • I agree with you that realizing that relationships aren’t really like the way it is depicted in movies and on TV shows is important. Relationships don’t have to be hard and they should be enjoyable! Great post as always!

  • I do agree in the fact that relationships do take work and time. You may love your significant other a lot but there are going to be times when you will want to shake (tried putting it as nicely as possible) them a few times, when they get on your nerves. It happens.Like you said from there you find a solution so when the same or similar situation occurs again you know how to approach each other. Staying in a relationship just because you think they are hard is not a good thing. This tends to lead to one or both partners in the relationship because unhappy and then things blow up. Been there done that in my past. When solutions stop working and you stop caring about making things work, it’s time to re-evaluate things. Great read and great points!!!

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Time and work are totally necessary to get through the bad times of relationships in order to get to the good! Thanks so much for your insightful and thoughtful comment : )

  • Tiffany {A Touch of Grace}

    Really insightful post Lindsay. I do agree that relationships shouldn’t ultimately be looked at as hard work. I think every relationship has times that are more difficult than others. My marriage is the best relationship I’ve ever had. Yes we’ve had hard times but we’re a team so we work through them.

  • I couldn’t agree more! Movies and TV shows depict marriage/relationships to be so hard, difficult and messy. But it’s quite simple like you said, I love my marriage and the relationship we have.
    xo, Lily
    Beauty With Lily

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Aw Lily, I’m so glad to hear that about your relationship!!!! xoxox

  • Michelle Mink

    I do think that relationships are work because regardless of how great it is you will have bad days. The work comes in to make sure that their are more good days than bad. The work comes in to put the relationship first and keep it strong

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Yes!!! Absolutely Michelle.

  • I absolutely love this! I never thought of it like this before and I couldn’t agree with you more. I do say that marriage is hard work, BUT like you mentioned, if something’s not working then you’re supposed to work together to fix it. And we do every single time. My marriage is the best relationship I’ve ever been in. It’s “easy” because we’re such a good team and are able to work through any problem that comes up and every unfortunate situation life throws at us.

    • Lindsay Katherine

      I’m glad you can see where I’m coming from! I’m so glad that your marriage is the best relationship you’ve been in : )

  • Amen to all of this! I’m in a great relationship (that’s coming after a VERY messy one) and it has been amazing how light and easy and rewarding it is. I so appreciate this post.

    • Lindsay Katherine

      I’m so glad you can appreciate the message in this post, especially in light of your past and present relationship situation.

  • Rachel Dhupar

    Beautiful post Lindsay. You are absolutely right. Relationship should be fun, fulfilling and enjoyable.

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Thank you Rachel, and thanks for reading : )

  • Love this, girl (and clearly a lot of other people did too!). I really appreciate all your insightful, thoughtful and critical (in a good way!) responses to conventional words that are thrown around so flippantly. Thanks for writing this! I completely agree with you that relationships are so much more than work. I think we’re also not to believe that “happily ever after” just happens, but that when we contend to be close in relationship, we experience deep joy.

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Thank you for your thoughtful reflection of this post, Daisy!

  • This so insightful Lindsay! Relationships are hard but we need to remind ourselves of the good things about them. Instead of framing it always in the negative, we need to focus on the positive. I have been trying to do this lately instead of criticizing my significant other, to remember all the things he DOES right!

    xo
    Annie

    • Lindsay Katherine

      That’s a really good practice; I am always hardest on my husband even though he’s the one who is always there and most supportive of me.

  • I love your positive outlook but I can’t agree with everything you stated. That being said you did shift my perspective on the way I look at my current relationship. Great post! 🙂

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Thanks for reading! What parts do you not agree with? My purpose is never to convert people to think just like me, so I’m glad we have differences! Makes conversations so much more interesting, don’t you think?

  • I love your positive outlook on relationships! Hopefully thinking this way will make them easier to handle.

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Aw thanks, Amanda, and thanks for reading.

  • I agree: relationships are enjoyable, fulfilling, and rewarding. If not, then be single and happy!

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Amen to that! Thanks for reading Lori : )

  • The Perfect Storm

    I totally agree! You should definitely be with someone whos good qualities outweigh any annoyances you may feel. It’s not as hard as the hype a lot of times.

    • Lindsay Katherine

      I am glad you feel the same! Obviously everyone is different, but I really think as a whole relationships can and should be easier than people make them out to be.

  • What a beautiful post and so true! When I was younger I actually never wanted to get married because I didn’t understand the point myself, with so many marriages ending in divorce or just long unhappy ones. That was until I met my husband and I just KNEW I had to have him by my side for the rest of my life, because like you said everything was just better with them there. Great post and I really loved your blog, its so beautiful… keep it up! <3

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Aww kasey, thanks for your comment and for sharing your experience!! Made my heart happy ❤️❤️❤️

  • Belle Vie A Deux

    Heck yes! They should be adding joy to your overall life. Does it mean it’s not making changes and growing as a person or that you will always get along- no. You nailed it. We need to stop perpetuating that its so hard. I have friends who get stuck in the unhealthiest relationship cycles and i’m like- thats not love!

    • Lindsay Katherine

      I have the same friend situation and it’s tough as a bystander!

  • tayloraube

    My fiancé is away for work right now and I miss him SO MUCH. I never realized how attached at the hip we are until he or I go away. Although I’m enjoying my alone time, I definitely miss him. We are SO compatible we do everything together haha. Loved this post <3
    http://stopdropandvogue.com

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Being away from your significant other can bring out those feelings! I always feel that way when my husband is out of town – I miss him a lot but I also enjoy my alone time : )

  • Great post – relationships should definitely be fulfilling and beneficial 🙂

    Lauren
    http://www.anexplorersheart.com

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Thanks, Lauren!

  • I really loved this post! Such a great idea and concept. I COMPLETELY agree with you that relationships (or the one that is closest to you) should be the easiest part of your life really. It’s the place where you can relax and love, and with that one.

    If it’s that hard, you may be trying to hard to make it work!

    Great post babe! My favorite part:
    My problem with the myth of saying relationships are meant to be hard is that it feels like we’re setting ourselves up for failure. To me, this myth takes us into dangerous territory of being a self-fulfilling prophecy, leading us to stay in poor relationships, fail to work on broken relationships, and settle for the people we surround ourselves with.

    xoxo
    Krista
    http://www.hundredblog.com

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Aw Krista, thanks so much for reading and for your thoughtful comment. I’m glad you see where I’m coming from, because I know a lot of people do not in general.

  • Kristin Kruse

    So spot on. I love how you mentioned that if there is an issue, figure out WHY! Relationships are hard but they’re so worth it.

    xox,
    Kristin

    • Lindsay Katherine

      So so true, Kristin ; ) Thanks for reading and for weighing in.

  • Lauren

    LOVE this post girl. You are absolutely right, relationships aren’ supposed to be so much work that you are unhappy. You have to learn how to work through those differences. I really enjoyed reading this. xoxo, Lauren
    http://www.rosesandrainboots.com

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Thanks for reading, Lauren! Appreciate your comment : )

  • I really love this! My husband and I were married this past September and ever since people always say “are you out of the honeymoon stage yet?” or something like that. And It always bothers me because I hope to never be out of the honeymoon stage with my husband. I once heard you should always “date” your spouse no matter how long you’ve been together and I love that idea! I never want to take him for granite and I always hope he is the easiest part of my day 🙂

    Emily at Style Cubby

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Congrats on your marriage, Emily! That saying and question always kind of bugged me, too – it’s a weird thing to ask someone…like, what are you asking? Are we done being in love? Are you implying that the honeymoon stage is filled with making out and sex? Because if so, that’s weird to ask. hahah.

  • Meaghan Gonzalez

    This is really beautiful! Thank you for sharing a different story besides the glass half empty, it’s supposed to be messy and bad relationship tales we are always told. I’m realizing I’ve been parroting the same tale, but forgetting that there are people out there who will add to your life, making any “work” something you’re happy to do.

    Meaghan xx

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Aw thanks for reading and for your thoughtful comment, Meaghan.