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.
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.
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?
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?