To talk about relationships, we need to start by getting over the language. If your eyes roll at words like “relationships are work,” or if you insist on equating “contentment” and “comfort” with “boredom,” then you’re going to have a hard time of it. The thing is, these words are all accurate, but our negative associations with them keep us from hearing good advice.
I’ve been in a loving, strong, and incredibly fun relationship for almost six years now. If you ask me (as people often do) how it succeeds, I will furrow my brow and get a bit of a pinched look in my face. This is not because I’m having a hard time finding the words. I have them. I just know that for many, they won’t be exciting enough, or will be taken so literally as to sound daunting, because what I want to say is:
Our relationship is essentially a series of conscious decisions that he and I make to be better to each other than the laziest versions of ourselves would really want to be.
I’ve thought about it over the years and that really is the best way I can describe it. If I have to do it in one sentence, that is (My guy said “oh yeah,” when I read that sentence to him). But it sounds awful! And boring! And no fun! Except that my home is full of dancing! And dinners made together! And laughter and good times! I promise.
When people say that relationships are work, it doesn’t mean that it is back breaking work (It can be, but then it probably just isn’t the right person). All it really means is that in relationships, you have to do something. You have to be an active part of it. They don’t just happen. It takes energy to show appreciation and pay attention to another person. Or to think of how they may be feeling. You have to do those things. That’s the work. Don’t be scared.
Personally, I find our reaction to language gets in the way in any conversation, so just keep an open mind and don’t assume the worst or immediately take anything I say personally. Come to think of it, the previous sentence also applies directly to relationships.