Anyone Who Says Relationships Aren’t Work is a Big Fat Liar

You know those people out there who talk about how relationships aren’t supposed to be hard? About everything is supposed to be easy, flow smoothly, and just be good? That we shouldn’t tell people that relationships take work?

Well those people are liars. Or stupid. Or deluding themselves.

Because you know what? Relationships are hard, yo. It’s impossible for them to NOT be hard. Think about it. You’ve got two people, each saddled with their own baggage, issues and ghosts from the past, put together and expected to deal with not only their own issues, but each others issues, along with the everyday difficulty of plain old life. Add to the mix kids, relatives,  work stress, housework, finances and you’ve got a recipe for a total shit show if you and your partner don’t put some plain old fashioned elbow grease into it. Some days that elbow grease is the only damn thing holding the how shit show together.

Being in a relationship — and being engaged and emotionally invested in it is hard. It’s hard looking at your own festering pile of emotional garbage and trying to figure out a way to clean it up a little bit so you don’t start stinking up the place. It’s hard being there smelling someone else’s festering pile of emotional garbage, and watching them try to clean it up, offering them as much help as you reasonably can without exhausting yourself so much that you can’t deal with your own crap. Sometimes their pile falls down a bit and gets mixed in with yours. Then you’re left with the joyous task of trying to separate your things from each other. Or not — which is a whole other set of problems just waiting to happen.

And of course, sometimes you fail. You fail yourself and you fail your partner. You make mistakes. You stumble. You will inevitably hurt the person that you love most in this world with your own shortcomings; even if it’s unintentional you’re still left with the task of trying to undo the hurt, make amends, and ideally learn from the whole experience. And that takes work. Hard work, dammit. Blood, sweat and tears kind of hard work.

And yes, it sucks while you’re in the middle of it. Hard work isn’t easy, I know that — trust me.But the good news is that if you both love each other and if you both actually do the work that you need to do, then you’ll be okay. Better than okay, in fact. Your love will grow deeper, you’ll understand one another better and your relationship will get stronger and better than you ever imagined a relationship could be.

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17 Responses to Anyone Who Says Relationships Aren’t Work is a Big Fat Liar

  1. Sean J says:

    I don’t think relationships, the *right* ones, should be a lot of hard work. If that means I’m stupid or a liar or delusional, then I suppose we’ll just have to agree to disagree. Maybe it’s only a matter of qualifying what each of us means by “work.”

    Yes, you and your partner will have differences, there may be arguments, disagreements, and times where cooperation or compromise are necessary, but I don’t believe that it should take a monumental effort to be done. Some effort, sure. As with all thigns, I do not feel you can simply sit there and do nothing, that things will happen for you or to you- not the kinds of things you want, anyway.

    I would be suspect of a relationship that only survived through constant battling and intense effort to keep it together. I would venture to say that it was not the right relationship.

    • I think possibly you and I might have different definitions of what hard work in a relationship means. I’m talking about things like dealing with your issues, compromising with your partner, working out the stuff that comes up. Because looking at, and working on, the parts of yourself that need work isn’t easy…but it’s necessary in order to keep your relationship growing and thriving.

      I’m not talking about relationships that require constant battling to get anywhere. The kind of work I’m talking about is the work required to keep your relationship working well. Sure, there will be times of hard work and then you get to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labour for a while before something else comes up that needs to be worked on. It’s no different than one’s own personal development, where we go through periods where we need to work hard on ourselves in order to keep evolving into something better.

      • Sean J says:

        I think then, that we actually have the same thoughts about how good relationships should be, though our terminology may differ 🙂 Thanks for sharing this, very thought provoking

  2. singlemamalife says:

    It’s even harder when kids are involved, because then I sit there and question if my son should have to be involved with all the baggage flying around. Or was it really just more simple with just the 2 of us? Gotta love the challenges of love.

    • I personally think it’s just more simple when it’s just mom and the kid (s). I think it’s important for children to see that conflict and issues come up in relationships, even loving ones…and that those issues can be overcome with love and effort. It doesn’t do any good, in my opinion, to shelter our children from it completely. We’ve all got baggage of some sort, right?

  3. Jolene says:

    Totally agree. I used to think my marriage ‘just’ worked – well clearly I was wrong. It worked because everything got shoved under the carpet. No more. If there is an issue, discuss it. Get it out. Don’t harbor it! Amen!

  4. i think that the work involved lies it two categories. 1. Logistics. What, when, where and by what means to accomplish the daily tasks and those of uniting two lives and moving forward. 2. There is the part of sustaining the love that you share while the crud of the logistics takes place.

    My guy and I work at getting both of these resolved with my man in letting our past lives and egos die off as much as we can. The more we hold on to our past relationships and the problems we learned from then, the more we limit the possibilities in our current relationship…and our future. We decided that we are happy that we met later in life so we had a chance to work out our own yucks on someone else and live out the rest of our lives in our mutually chosen ways.;

    • I agree completely –lots of work there. CBG and I are also glad that we met later in life, so that we were able to work out some of our individual “stuff”, and learn some lessons about relationships before getting together. Ironically, I think the fact that we were both previously married better prepared us for the relationship that we have now.

  5. Kate says:

    Hollywood certainly has a lot to answer for in terms of the expectations we place on romance. Sadly, we only tend to realise just how idealised the portrayal is when we’re knee deep in all the less ideal things. No-one ever tells you that if you happen to open your eyes during that tender kiss, all you’ll be able to see is a rather alarming close-up of your partner’s face writhing around. Sleeping positions too, that’s a good one. Hollywood never shows us one partner wanting to cuddle up in bed all the time, the other one finding it too hot, too intrusive, too MUCH when you’re trying to get a good night’s sleep. No, each partner is so at ease in the relationship, so content that they wouldn’t consider any other way to sleep except wrapped up in each other’s arms. Idyllic.

    And, of course, deceptive. Relationships simply do not work like that. There will be wonderful moments, true, but perhaps not the sweeping, hand-against-heart, head-thrown-back-and-feel-the-rain moments that you imagine. Or maybe that’s exactly how the wonderful moments will be, but whatever “wonderful” is for you, you’ve got to know that there will be hard work in equal measure. In Hollywood, we rarely see the compromise, the tears, the anger, the mistakes, the misunderstandings, the doubt, the fear, the reconciliations, the forgiveness. As relationship advice goes, you can’t do much worse than Hollywood.

    • I definitely think that Hollywood has set many of us up for unrealistic expectations of relationships. It starts early, too, from Disney fairy tales all the way through life. I think that the more we all talk about the realities of love and relationships, the better we will all be in terms of being able to adjust our expectations.

  6. T says:

    I was going to ask, “People say relationships aren’t hard work”?!? Until I saw the first comment. So… um.. yeah I agree that if you’re doing nothing but fighting all the time, that’s not what I consider “work”. That’s destructive.

    What you’re talking about is “constructive”. You’re building something together. You have to get the measurements, tools, and materials. You have to agree on design and location. You have to take the time, have patience, keep the vision in the forefront of your mind and make sure you’re continually communicating. That shit’s hard!

    You’re on the right track. Y’all are laying the foundation for forever, you know. It just make take some time.


    • I’ve seen people before talk/write about how they don’t think that relationships should take hard work. I’m not sure if maybe their definition of “hard work” is different than mine, or what. But damn, they are work. I’m not saying that they’re not worth the effort, because they definitely are, but work it work and some days it’s very, very exhausting…and that’s okay, I just think that people need to be better prepared for the work and the exhaustion, myself included. 😉

      I agree that it takes time to lay a solid foundation. It’s easy to get burned out doing it, though…and then get scared because you ARE burned out, if that makes any sense. But of course it’ll make sense to you, my sister from another mister! 😉

  7. Wallis says:

    I think the first year/year and a half of this marriage (my second) were hard work. I had to work hard to be a “team player”. I worked so hard after my divorce to be independent and giving up some of my control was painful. Once I learned to play nicely with others again and give up some of my need for control it started to get much more smooth.

    • Absolutely! I think that the first year and a half of any relationship is tough, but especially after you’ve gotten used to being independent and doing for yourself. I’m definitely experiencing that to a certain degree right now.

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