Relationships are a pain in the ass. Well, they usually start out wonderfully. Then they become a pain in the ass.
The question is, do you know why you’re in it? If you don’t, then the pain can be severe and pointless. But if you know why you’re in it, the pain may be a signal for you to examine how you can improve your participation so the two of you can actually have the relationship you’d like.
The pain in the ass I’m referring to is the work required to cohabitate for the long haul. If you’re just looking for fun, then have your short-term recreational relationships and get out at the first hint of “relationship issues.”
But if you want a long-term partner, if you want to nurture an intimate and loving relationship, where you both are listening to each other and supporting each other to grow, to heal, and to find joy, now that’s gonna take work.
It’s work because as the honeymoon fades and the full-dimensional truth of who you both are becomes more and more apparent, you’re each confronted with childhood issues that are begging to be examined and healed. And until they are, they’ll continue to wreak havoc in your relationship.
If one of you is afraid of conflict, and the other addicted to chaos, the chasing and the running will lead to endless arguing and possibly more violent forms of confrontation. If one of you is a bully, and the other never had a voice as a child, the frustration levels could rise to unbearable levels.
And while these old issues are played out in your relationship, your kids are witness to the blow-by-blow of their parent’s contentious marriage. As they’re watching, storing each and every memory, they’re developing their definitions of what a marriage is, what a man and woman are, and what they’ll likely create for themselves as they enter the dating and marriage world.
That’s why it’s so important for you to know who you are, what you want and why you’re in your relationship. Without that clear information, you’ll struggle to make sense of it all while your partner’s lack of clear information muddies the already muddied waters.
But there is an upside.
When you do this important work, you have the potential of sharing a spiritual journey with someone you adore, are sexually mad about, trust and respect. That, is worth all the work. With a strong foundation, the two of you can build a family and support one another through the challenging stages of your kids’ growth and your own maturation as parents, empty nesters and then grandparents.
So, read, go to counseling individually and as a couple, listen to podcasts, eat well, exercise, be spontaneous, listen to each other, go out of your way to love each other, and never forget that becoming complacent is the first step toward losing what could be the most wonderful part of your life.
Wayne M. Levine, MA, is a men’s life coach and director of BetterMen Coaching in Agoura Hills. He teaches men to be the best men, fathers, husbands and leaders they can be through individual, couples and group coaching, both in office and via the phone. Wayne is author of the best-selling book, Hold On to Your N.U.T.s—The Relationship Manual for Men. To find out more, get a copy of Wayne’s book and register for the BetterMen Weekend Retreat at www.bettermencoaching.com.