We are imperfect beings; therefore so too are our relationships. We engage mouth before activating brain. We dismiss our partner’s concerns as irrelevant. We can be inconsiderate, petty, or cranky. It’s part of the human condition; we mess up, and since we live with others, we hurt them. We don’t intend to - but we cannot deny that we do. It matters not how much energy you put into it, nor how long you’ve been together; even the finest relationships cause some pain.
At our end of days, should we be so fortunate to take inventory of our most important relationships and can proclaim them as “good” more times than not; then indeed they were “good.”
A successful long-term-relationship is not without flaw; rather, it:
Incurs less damage during conflicts
Recovers from that hurt more quickly and fully
Tilts the scale in the direction of “happy” rather than “unhappy”
Short of choosing the wrong partner - those whose relationships fall asunder did not necessarily disagree more often than those with “good” relationships. Instead they had unrealistic expectations, conflating conflict with failure; and did not possess a method to handle disagreement when it raised its unpleasant, but unavoidable, head.
When any relationship is smack dab in the midst of a “rough patch,” our initial reaction is to flee the pain. After all, no decent soul enjoys feeling he’s the cause of someone else’s discomfort; and we sure as heck don’t wish to be on its receiving end. So, we conjure up reasons to break it off, an “escape plan.” That’s natural, but it is the incorrect choice.
As example, I dearly love my wife; I cannot believe how lucky I am that she is my mate and best friend. She’s fun (and funny), intelligent, frighteningly creative, strikingly gorgeous, and - probably most importantly - she accepts me notwithstanding my (many) quirks. Yet, despite that, if I’m being honest, there are days when I look at her and think, “’Till death do us part, huh? That’s an awfully long time.”
Before you label me as some insensitive, sexist lout, I’ve got enough therapy under my belt to realize that there are times when I’m sure she wakes up, glances over at me; hair askew, unshaven, snoring like a bulldozer; and thinks the exact same thought. The bigger point is those rare moments take nothing away from all the positive attributes I just listed. It also doesn’t mean I didn’t mean what I said.
Simply because we have an occasional down day doesn’t mean we dismiss all that’s right and throw in the towel. We refuse to give up neither our history nor future due to rough sledding in the present. We also understand that we are here because of what we’ve done so far, so extending the current pattern perpetuates the problem. Even worse, blaming each other exacerbates it. The only sensible alternative is for each of us to work on making ourselves better.
The relationship we have with our bodies is the ultimate long-term relationship. We have carried it since birth and it will be with us when we take our last breath. Like any relationship, it begins, evolves, matures, and eventually ends. There are times when we are happy with it; and there are times when “not so much.” Yet, it contains ups and downs.
If I’m trying to lose a few pounds, or better manage stress, or build a career; I will have good and bad days. However, in the same fashion that I would not toss my best relationships to the curb over such misunderstandings, I will not abandon my dreams and goals when they’re not materializing as quickly as I want. I persevere, knowing that better times are ahead if I’m willing to do what it takes to get there.
About the author: Scott “Q” Marcus is the CRP (Chief Recovering Perfectionist) of www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com, a website to support folks frustrated with making promises and ready to make a change in a supportive environment. Sign up for his free newsletter at the site or at facebook.com/thistimeimeanit. Contact him for coaching, consulting, workshops, and speaking at (707) 442-6243 or firstname.lastname@example.org. His first six years of these columns are now available on Amazon at http://amzn.to/StrivingBooks.