I was with a friend at lunch who was talking about struggles with her boyfriend and I was caught of guard when she said, “I want to get married. If we get married, all these problems will go away…”
This morning I reflected on that. What is it that makes a relationship “work”? I can’t speak for everyone but what I’ve come to believe is that, regardless of a paper document confirming the legal connection between two people, what really makes a relationship work, is…”work”.
I know I’m going to get a lot of people that are going to say “if it takes work then it’s too much and you should just walk away.” That’s of course not the kind of work I’m talking about. The work I’m talking about isn’t helping around the house or being patient enough to sit and listen to your partner complain or talk about stuff you’re not interested in.
The kind of work I’m talking about is the commitment to stay when you want to run away. The capacity to hold your partner’s flaws and not hold it against them. The work of doing your own personal and emotional healing so that your own emotional baggage doesn’t become a subconscious and silent weapon of attack on them. The work of being able to say you’re sorry and admit when you’re wrong. The strength to overcome your own fears and insecurities so that they don’t cloud your judgement and bring you to do or say things you’ll later regret. The capacity to step back and allow your partner to work on their own problems without your intervention. The work of trust, faith, acceptance. The work of looking at a flaw and instead of seeing it as a problem needing fixed, a starting point in the relationship to ask yourself, “can I fully and wholly embrace and accept this or is it a deal breaker?” And if you’re already in a relationship, being able to see the flaw and ask yourself, “is this something I can let go and be content with?”
The list is probably endless, but it really all boils down to the work we do internally, learning what it really means to LOVE another person, to love yourself, and not get stuck in that one way road of “what my partner is or can do for me” or the masochistic “I must kill all parts of me to make my partner happy, and then once they are happy I can be happy.”
It’s about being real with what is. Because what is is all that there is. What comes after that is the result of love or lack of.