I have heard people say this about romantic relationships: “You should not have to work in a relationship” or “Your relationship should not be work.” What should it be then? All of the good friendships that I made took time and energy to foster and to keep. Why do people not complain about the work they had to put into their friendships, but will emote that kind of rant in their romantic ones?
Those statements boggle me. We are a society that believes we get things handed to us. Our grandparents or parents stayed together because they believed in the commitment in marriage and believed that hard work was the only thing that got you anywhere. They faced the same issues and frustrations that we do with relationships today. It looked different, but the solutions are similar.
I am asking that we stop treating marriage like a drive-thru. You need to park the car, get out, and go inside. If you are having difficulty in your marriage, the best thing you can do is seek professional therapeutic help from someone who you can trust and who has a track record of reconnecting marriages. Marriage will never be simple.
1. Relationships take time to foster. If you are in a hurry to walk down the aisle, that is a clear sign that your heart may not be in the right place. In Facebook world it appears everyone is getting married and having babies. However, in real-time, there are still a lot of singles out there.
2. The best way to keep your relationship simple is to always remember the friendship that is behind it. It is vital to be your partners’ best friend. You should continue to get to know each other for years to come. As you change together, you will need to learn new things about one another.
3. You have to nurture the marriage all the time. Just like we maintain our cars, water our grass, or dedicate ourselves to educational leaps through school; you constantly need to nurture your marriage. If you keep up with the little ways that you can stay connected, your marriage will keep on the right track. If you don’t keep nurturing the marriage, it will get put in the shop, die, or not pass the 9th grade. We maintain almost every aspect of our lives. We maintain our jobs and our progress. Why should it be any different in romantic relationships?
4. There must be mutual respect. We respect our friends. If you are my friend and I don’t text you back right away, you are not going to text me two hours later and say ? or why didn’t you text me back? We set boundaries and keep them very well in most of our friendships. We need to learn to do the same in our relationships. We must respect our significant other for the obligations they may have, the love that they may need, and everything in between.
5. You have to have a passion to have fun together. Have fun together in everything you do. Fun can be fostered by become more caring and in tune in the relationship. Make a list of three things that you will each do each day for the next two weeks. See how this new daily caring makes for more positive exchanges in the relationship. (Such as 1. Tell them you love them every morning when you get up. 2. Write them a note and leave it someone different each day. 3. Call them during lunch just to ask how they are doing.) If you are saying, three things every day?! Yes, three things each day for two weeks. You manage to eat three times a day and go to the bathroom multiple times. Make it routine!
The Cynical Therapist came to be when two therapists became friends. SoulMates or Kindered Spirit Animals… Call us what you will…. We are two bad*** chics Licensed to teach you how to grow into your full potential and add some humor along the way.
Laurie Wilson and Elle Anzalone are both Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist practicing in Huntington Beach, CA.