Ever since I was a kid, I remember hearing people talk about how much work it was to be in a relationship. When I think about “hard work”, I think about shoveling my car out of a parking spot, by myself, when the snow is up to my side view mirror. I think about changing a flat tire, without the proper tools, in my work clothes. I think about teachers who have 30 six year-old children in their classroom, five days a week. Or construction workers working all day in 115 degree weather, in Las Vegas.
That’s what I think of when I hear the term “hard work”. So for people to use that same phrase when they refer to relationships, it’s no wonder so many men and women grow up dreading being in a relationship.
If we are expecting the relationship equivalent to picking cotton or cleaning hotel rooms, that entire mentality plays into how we choose, interact with, and what we accept from our significant others.
Take a second to think about all of the couples you know that are in a healthy, happy relationship...The ones who would go through everything all over again, if it meant they could still be with their mate. Or the ones who ooze love, lust, and "happily ever after." I’ll even give you a minute to count them. Are you done? I’m sure you are, because most of you only needed a few fingers. Finding a happy couple that you actually envy is a difficult thing to find these days.
Worse than being told things like, “If you swallow an apple seed, an apple will grow in your stomach” or even the years your parents spent lying to you about Santa…worse than all of these lies is the concept that a relationship is hard work. The truth is that a relationship with the WRONG person is hard work.
When I was seven, I couldn’t find the exact piece that would make my Strawberry Shortcake puzzle fit together. So I just took a random jagged piece and stuck it in so that I could complete my puzzle. I shoved a square edge into an oval, and genuinely thought it would work.
And that’s what the majority of people do in relationships. They throw compatibility out of the window and assume that because they want something to work, it will happen.
So let’s go back to those couples on your list. They work. They found the lid to their pot, the milk to their cornflakes, the Chuck D to their Flavor Flav.
Their love isn’t “hard” work. The bottom line is that it doesn’t feel like work when you are with the right person. So when do you know you have the right person? It feels much more like a partnership and a partnership makes everything easier. You cook a little, they do the dishes. And when you don’t feel like cooking, they’ll cook or you will go out to dinner. If you hate loading dishes, they hate unloading, so it works. If you can’t get out of bed with a cold, they will gladly run to the store for orange juice, soup, and medicine. And you’ll return the favor whenever the situation is reversed.
They don’t make comments in public or private that make you feel like less of a woman or man. And when the two of you have a problem in your relationship, you talk about it, solve it, and move on to something else. You find yourself wanting to hang out, spend time, or just be in their company. You wouldn’t mind your son or daughter marrying someone like them or growing up to become them.
When you do not know who you are, what you need, and what makes you happy, it’s difficult to choose the right person. You think that love is all you need. And you fall in love with a jagged piece of person when you are an entirely different shape. So it’s time to reshape what our relationship perceptions are and begin to understand that a healthy, happy relationship doesn’t feel like work at all. It simply works.