Long-lasting relationships seem to be more rare these days. For whatever reason, we seem to be more flighty and less committed than our grandparents and great grandparents were. We seem to be quicker to let relationships go rather than putting in the time and effort to keeping them alive. That’s unfortunate because some of the hardest relationships are also some of the best.
Looked at another way, the best relationships can be the hardest ones to maintain. But that is not a bad thing. When you work hard to grow and improve a relationship, that’s where real maturity is discovered. That is where the intangible payoffs of strong relationships become evident.
Relationships & More is a counseling center in Rye, NY specializing in couple’s, adolescent, and individual counseling. They offer a number of suggestions explaining why the best relationships can be the hardest:
1. Growth Requires Overcoming
Relationships are like trees. In order for them to grow and thrive over many decades, they have to overcome a lot of negative things. For the tree, this means overcoming whatever nature throws at it. It could be bad weather, pests, or disease. In the relationship department, overcoming applies to those things that can easily weaken the relationship.
Overcoming is not always easy. It can be quite difficult, especially if it involves revelation. Sometimes very uncomfortable circumstances have to be revealed before they can be resolved. Couples have to come face-to-face with their deficiencies before those deficiencies can be overcome. That can be extremely difficult.
2. Growth Requires Unity
The best relationships are often the hardest because it takes real effort to be unified. Let’s face it, two people involved in a relationship will probably have different dreams and goals – at least to some degree. It can take a long time to figure out how to maintain those dreams and goals and still be unified. And sometimes, compromises have to be made.
3. Growth Requires Autonomy
As strange as it sounds, autonomy is as important to a relationship as unity. The two concepts are not mutually exclusive. If you don’t understand how that can be, consider how you feel about doing something willingly as compared to being forced into it.
Unity is best when those in a relationship willingly get on the same page. When unity is achieved willingly, everyone involved still maintains that sense of autonomy. But when one party feels coerced into unity, they may feel like autonomy has been lost. The thing is that striking the right balance is not easy. Learning to do it can create tension.
4. Human Beings Are Imperfect
The final point here ties everything together: human beings are imperfect. Because of that, we do not always readily overcome our weak points. We don’t always seek to be unified. We do not always allow other people to maintain their own autonomy.
Our imperfections cause us to do things we shouldn’t do. We think inappropriate things and speak words that are harmful. All our imperfections lead us to having imperfect relationships. And for a lot of people, coming to that understanding is very difficult.
It can be tough to accept relationships that do not line up with what Hollywood depicts on the silver screen. It is easy to be disillusioned when that knight in shining armor turns out to be something else entirely.
Coming to a realistic understanding of what solid relationships are really like is the first step in making those relationships as good as they can be. Then the real work begins. It is hard work, but worth every ounce of sweat and tears.