We have all heard this before “I just wish it was easier”. A friend wishing their partner could just see their point of view more often, that their girlfriend lived closer, or that they just had a little more money to afford that house they wanted.
The truth is even in some of the most perfect relationships we could still say “I wish it was a little easier” because sharing your life and your world with another person is never a piece of cake.
But the question is how do you know if you’re working hard enough? Or is it that you’re working too hard and it’s just not worth it anymore? How do you know if you and your partner are both working equally towards a common goal?
Today we are diving into this very tough and complicated question and finding out just how hard should you work in your relationship.
Is your Relationship a Job?
You have seen that couple before. The first 6 months of their relationship looks like heaven. They finish eachothers sentences, they constantly say “Oh I’m fine with whatever you want honey” and they just can’t sit close enough to one another.
They seem perfect, like every motion and every thought is easy and in sync. But what happens when one person finally realizes that if their partner picks Indian food one more time they will go insane. Or that they really have to let their partner know they aren’t too keen on cuddling while falling asleep.
The couples that have long successful relationships may make it look easy but truthfully they are working every single day, behind the scenes of the public eye, to care for and improve their relationships.
If you don’t work for your relationship it is very easy to stop appreciating it. And like any work skills, we should be always striving to improve ourselves by educating ourselves and being open to change.
I know, I know, this sounds like a job. Nobody wants their relationship to be a job!
But what if your job complimented you everyday? What if your job was fulfilling emotionally, physically, and intellectually?
What if you looked forward to the work you had to do everyday because you knew it would make you happier in the long run? Sounds like a pretty sweet job right!
Think about the people who are most satisfied with their work life. They go in everyday hoping to be challenged, looking to learn something new, open to new experiences. The people who hate their jobs feel bored, unchallenged, stuck.
The Compound Effect
If you have never read the Compound Effect then you are missing out on one of the simplest explanations as to why some people are successful with work, fitness, relationships and so many other parts of their lives.
Some people seem to naturally execute the compound effect in their day to day lives. Others need to learn it slowly until it becomes a normal part of life.
Simply put The Compound effect is the strategy of reaping huge rewards from small, seemingly insignificant actions. In the long term, a happy relationship is many many small actions piled on top of each other.
Think about being with someone for 20 years. Every day you compliment your partner on something different. Their new hairstyle, the shirt they are wearing, how delicious the meal they cooked was, how good they look after a workout.
Sure, each compliment on it’s own is just a nice sentence in passing but piled together comes appreciation, love, meaning, connectedness.
Let’s go in the opposite direction. No one expects to be complimented for every single thing they do. So when you don’t think to mention that they look good before a date night, or thank them for the breakfast they made, what’s the big deal. A year later they start to feel resentful and start thinking what’s the point of trying if you don’t even notice.
Truthfully, in both these cases you may be just as appreciative and just as likely to think they look great or are doing a great job. The difference is that in one instance you put in the effort and small daily work it took to maintain the feelings of love and gratitude.
This is just one example where applying The Compound effect to your relationship will keep you both happy and healthy. Apply it to discussing issues you have, eating well to stay healthy and fit, or keeping your house in order.
You have to decide together to put in the small but constant work it takes to keep your relationship moving in the right direction.
Is it Worth the Effort?
Finding a person you are hoping to spend the rest of your life with is what makes the work worth it in the end. It can only truly be worth the effort if both partners are equally working towards the common goal of happiness together.
There are multiple reasons the work will be worth it. First, when you work hard for something it creates value. If your relationship just existed you may start to feel you could do this with anyone or that neither of you care very much. Just putting in a little effort makes you more likely to value your relationship more.
Next, when you work hard and succeed your self-confidence increases. You become more proud of what you have built and you feel more trustful of the strength of your relationship. This self-confidence leads you to become more willing to go outside your comfort zones and try new things together. Your relationship will never become stagnant and boring.
Lastly, you become more confident that you can work through even the biggest and toughest challenges. Maybe in the first 6 months of your relationship no big challenges occur. But if you started by always making the effort, when someone gets sick, or someone gets fired, you are ready to act and can get through it.
Does it get easier?
Maybe? If you constantly work hard you learn how to communicate your needs and feelings, you make it easier to reach goals and find common ground.
Eventually you will both figure out how you communicate, how you both best express your feelings, and when it is time to take a moment to re-evaluate the situation. This will become your guide.
Once you have created your relationship guide you can use it to work off of during every challenge. You can trust your instincts and react before issues get out of hand.
Your guide may need to be updated and changed occasionally, leading to dips in your “relationship satisfaction” or to having periods where you have to work harder again suddenly.
Oftentimes these are during periods of big change such as a sudden job loss, a big move, a personal tragedy or a midlife crisis. Many very happy couples cannot withstand these major crises if they have never actively worked at improving their relationship.
Compare a naturally gifted athlete that has never had to work hard vs a mediocre athlete that works their ass off. Eventually the one that works hard has a good chance at matching or surpassing the naturally gifted one and feeling more pride and appreciation for where they stand.
From the very beginning of your relationship, even if everything feels easy, become aware of the positive affirmations, the compliments, what creates the happiness. Put in the extra effort to keep those things front and center in your lives.
Pay attention to what methods do and do not work when dealing with a disagreement, even a small one. Keep the effective ones in your relationship arsenal.
A relationship may involve a lot of hard work but when that leads to confidence, happiness, and long term success, it is worth every moment of effort. Couples who start their relationships willing to think a little longer, work a little harder, and are always trying to improve, are much more likely to stay together in the long run. Work hard, play hard!