How much work is "too much" work? Should a relationship feel like a second job? This article intrigued me because when I feel like I'm carrying most of the burden I tend to let it go. What say you?
Do Relationships Really Need To Be A Lot Of Work?
By Blair Glaser for YourTango.com
A client came to me distraught.
He had been struggling in his relationship. His fiancée was
non-responsive to his needs. She was consumed with and depressed about a
touchy situation at work and wanted to stay home, enjoy take-out and
watch TV, preferably with but even without him. He accepted this for a
few weeks, but it had been dragging on for months.
He tried to coax her into fun. He tried talking to her about getting
focused on the wedding plans, but she wasn't very responsive to his
enthusiasm. Eventually, he would get frustrated with the situation and
they would have a fight. This drove her further into withdrawal. Then,
the cycle would repeat.
He confessed to his mother about having serious doubts about the
relationship. His mother told him, "Relationships are a lot of work."
This is a popular belief that holds some truth: Relationships can be a
lot of work, especially when they're in transition. Whether it's a
transition phase for the relationship as a whole, or for the individuals
in them, these times tend to stir up drama and are ripe for sorting
things through. Some examples of relationship transitions are:
- The testing period after the relationship becomes "real," 3-6 months after falling in love
- After moving in together and/or getting engaged
- The first year of marriage
- The birth of a child, etc.
Examples of transitions sparked by one partner within a relationship are:
- Location changes
- Major success or failure
- Major loss: job, parent, etc.
This couple had a double whammy: the relationship was in a transition at the same time the woman was in one.
The work that's required in these times is about sorting through
expectations and setting up the appropriate structures that will help
each partner get their own needs met while attending to the needs of the
team. A relationship that's too much work, i.e., filled with
disharmony, fighting and processing about the relationship for a
prolonged period of time, has probably crossed a line that has not been
articulated, and something is not working that may never work.
People begin relationships with conscious or unconscious
deal-breakers and non-negotiables in mind: "I can't be with a smoker;"
"I need someone who is financially solvent." But living with someone can
reveal non-negotiables you didn't know you had.
Once a non-negotiable has been articulated — for this man it was
being with someone who wanted to withdraw for extended periods of time —
it's time to take a stand and put structures in place that will shift
the dysfunction and enable your relationship to be about something other
than suffering and hard work. Or, it could be time to make a break.
It's a big risk to tell your beloved that you've found a deal-breaker
in the midst of an established relationship. But consider the
It is also an act of leadership. If he risks sharing his deal-breaker
with his fiancée, it gives her an opportunity to do some real work on
herself and join him in love.
Does a relationship need to be a lot of work? Unless you're the type
who likes to work on yourself and your relationship all the time, I say
no. Transition phases should be temporary and ultimately strengthen the
couple as a team, and give way to the joy and camaraderie that brought
the couple together.
How does this resonate with you? Join the conversation and tell me about it in the comments.