Will You and Your Partner Make It?
We all have doubts about our relationship. This is normal. Yet, despite knowing it is normal, we still wonder if we are going to be the type of couple strong enough to overcome doubt and face the challenges that so many relationships fail to do - including every relationship we have had up until our current one.
There is no for-sure way to know if you and your partner are going to make it, but here are 6 things to keep an eye on in the relationship - for your partner, yes, but also for yourself.
1. I’m a Disney Baby
A couple that is less likely to make it, in the long run, is, ironically, one that is very optimistic and hopeful about love. Blind optimism is not the key to a successful relationship. This is a couple that assumes relationship satisfaction equates to never fighting. They just assume that when they have found ‘the one’, they will never:
Bicker over chores
Storm out of a room
Be grumpy with their partner
Have an afternoon of sadness
So when trouble arises, and it most definitely will, they take it as a sign that ‘love is failing’.
‘This is not progressing.’ They think.
Or ‘That is a sign we aren’t meant to be together.’
And in the end, their hopes exhaust them so much that they don’t have the strength to handle the patient and compassionate necessities of heart-felt compromise and regular maintenance.
2. Out of Focus
A couple that is less likely to make it won’t be self-aware or honest about their feelings. Yes, they may both be unhappy about the relationship, but they won’t see the true cause of it. Rather than seeing that they are unhappy with their work or lack of work, they accuse their partner of being untrustworthy. Or when they wish they could have more alone time, they yell about the correct way to raise their child.
Either way, they are missing the true catalysts of their pain and attacking their partner in a very unfair and general way or in an oddly specific way that leaves the other defensive or scratching his head in confusion.
3. Out of Grace
Sometimes one person in the relationship may feel shame about their very right to exist. They doubt even whether they deserve love or not. Somewhere in their past, they have been given the impression that they don’t matter.
Their feelings should be ignored.
Their happiness is not important.
Their thoughts do not count.
These partners hurt just like everyone else, but their ability to share this pain with someone else is almost nonexistent. Depending on the type of person, this could lead to sulking or hiding.
Sadly, when they do decide to speak it is often too late. And there is nothing worse than too late.
4. Too Apprehensive
Part of being in a relationship is knowing how to complain well. What this really means is not only being able to state our complaints candidly to our partners but, more importantly, to not expect them not to understand us perfectly. It’s a pearl of well-earned wisdom to know that not everything is actually at stake in an argument - although our emotions may be telling us otherwise.
Nobody has ruined the other person’s life, and there really isn’t any real need to yell or harass or nag.
We should deliver our complaints much like a wise and experienced teacher delivers a class. The teacher knows how vital and important it is for his students to learn the material, but he still gives the class in an almost nonchalant manner. He is calm and understands that his audience may not all be there mentally, and even if they are there, they may not receive the message to the extent they should. And that’s okay. Tomorrow is another day, another chance, another us.
5. Too Proud
Pride is a deadly sin, to ourselves and our relationships. When we use it here, we are talking about the subtle effects of not allowing the little stuff to get to us.
She has been upset since lunch because he didn’t take her hand.
He is bothered she doesn’t want to talk to him at night before bed.
They are both too prideful to admit they are bothered by the messy house nobody is cleaning.
We laugh these things off as small, but more than that, we don’t want to appear petty or needy.
It takes a certain level of maturity and strength to be vulnerable in this way. Which may contradict what we consider maturity and strength. Yet there is courage in being honest with ourselves and our childlike needs such as comfort and encouragement. We shouldn’t be offended by ourselves to need or demand such things from our partners.
How many times have you slammed a door and said everything was okay when truthfully you needed someone to hold you like the upset child you were?
6. Dialtone Dialogue
Three things that have always been the most controversial for couples are sex, money, and communication. The latter is one that any psychologist will tell you is most vital for making any relationship work. Sex can be hot and cold much like the seasons. Money is sometimes out of our hands.
But communication… Wow. This is the most frustrating thing to work on because it should be the one thing we always do well and yet we always seem to fail at. There’s a sense of shame and guilt around this idea when we fail because we know it is directly our responsibility. We also know it is the key to everything else. We can make it through anything in life as long as our partners understand us. And if we have the Disney mindset of ‘the one’, we assume they will always understand us because we are special and they were made for us.
I was once told that I was doomed to fail at relationships because of my example of love. Many of us come from childhoods where the art of conversation just didn’t work well. Our parents screamed at each other or simply lived in cold silence. Seriously, how many times as children did we see our parents come to a compassionate and mutual understanding built on sympathy for each other?
Given this, it is damn difficult and a lot of personal work we have to do now as adults in our own love lives to know how to understand and be understood. We don’t really have any resources besides maybe a few well-written articles (*wink) or a professional to draw on paper what it looks like. Wherever we learn it for the first time, God knows we didn’t grow up with any real-life examples.
All of these things sound pretty familiar, and therefore, pretty demoralizing. But the truth is, a couple could be struggling with all of these aspects and still not split up. Yet, these are things that do cause a disconnect in a relationship which, at some point, could potentially break the couple apart.
The good news is that just by reading this today, you’ve taken the first step to becoming aware of them. And just like most illnesses, catching it early is a good thing. As long as you don’t get lost in a downward spiral of darkness and hate and ugliness about the relationship, you can always get back to work on yourself and your relationship.
Here’s to finding the good life in your relationship. All the best.