Here's a bunch of reasons, and we're talking romantic partnerships:
Because we change day to day - because others do too - because we're all tired - because putting others first isn't an innate behavior, it takes practice - not all relationships are worth the work - we're impatient - we're losing practice being loving, cooperative beings - social media - netflix - dating apps are easy - love is not convenient - porn - unaddressed baggage - because mental health takes some work - because we're not sure how have a healthy relationship in general...
Ok I'll stop.
But you get the point, there are lots of reasons why relationships are hard. I've been in committed relationship for all of my adult life and I know great or even good relationships are worth working for.
I coach (or have coached) 6 different couples in the last 2 years. They are all very different, but the issues they they experience are were similar in a lot of ways. I see them in my life as well. I've given it a lot of thought, and I think there are certain tendencies we have in our relationships. If we can identify those, we can account for them and adjust on our path to having a fulfilling relationship with someone we love.
There are two major types of expectations in any relationship.
1. The general expectation around norms, customs, reciprocity and general vibe within the relationship. An expectation of why you're in the relationship.
2. This one is a more nuanced and the focus here: the (usually negative or triggering) expectation of how your partner is being:: expecting them to be or act a certain way.
Every couple goes through ruts. No one's has ever been in a flawless relationship. But, something that happens frequently is - those ruts become giant gaps between people. Some random issue that, in the past you could have overlooked has now become something way worse. This issue between the two of you that penetrates every interaction you have with one another. It's something that you can't shake. We've all been there.
Often times, these ruts we get into get worse because we stop giving our partners the benefit of the doubt. We're with them because we like them...remember that. When we start to anticipate our partners reaction to things we say, and that effects the whole vibe. We're putting our filter and our expectations on them, and that never works, it always goes sideways.
Think about where you're at in your relationship right now, and think of all the places and topics where you already know how your partner will react. And instead of looking them in their eyes, and asking for their attention and having a clear and honest conversation with them, you've already succumbed to your expectation of them...and the rut gets wider.
Especially when you're in the middle of a disagreement and you haven't been seeing eye to eye for a while...we succumb to the way that you always do things, expectations. Try turning off Netflix (not while they're watching) and have an honest, chilled out conversation with the person you've chosen to be with.
I know...we know our significant others better than anyone. But these expectations begin govern every fight, every disagreement, every bummer topic. Then we find ourselves detached from the actual person we're with. The expectations become more and more integrated into the relationship, and it makes things worse. It becomes harder to turn things around. Instead ofbeing connected to our partners, we're connected to a version of them we've created in our minds.
There's only one way to correct this scenario and it's hard.
OPEN AND HONEST COMMUNICATION WITHOUT EXPECTATION
We have to allow ourselves to be surprised by our parters. We have to ask them to level with us, get on the same page as us, to collaborate with us. Ask for that you need from them, and give them what you can. We're the only ones who can course correct our relationships. Be vulnerable, be patient, don't just wait to speak, listen to them.
Also, there are no points for winning an argument, because holding that against them pushes them away. Stick to your principals, but if it risks alienating your partner from you, consider if it's worth it.
Pretend just for a second that they actually mean what they're saying. Just for a second cut through the crap that you both do when you fight and try to have a real conversation. You're a team, and you chose at one point to be together, so fight a little bit for each other.
Propose a 3 day truce from your fight: Waive a white flag and agree to chill the F out for three days. If you've been fighting a lot, or feel like you're stuck in a rut propose a bickering hiatus.
Stop being passive aggressive: You know who you are. Some of us fight this way, and it's lazy. It's the weakest way to go about voicing your problems. It's ambiguous and non-productive.
Write them an email and only send it if you think it'll be productive: Take the time to synthesize your thoughts. What are you angry about? How did you get here, how can you resolve it? Share with them all the things that you appreciate about them. Think of things that you can do together that will bring you closer. Apologize where necessary - it's never too late to apologize for something that you know you messed up. Really write something from the heart. This will give you a chance to think about the situation you're in, and a solution may present itself.
Stop arguing over text: Seriously stop. It's too easy to sit there at your desk, or in the car and send some long, snappy text out there without having to be accountable to it. Trying to resolve anything over text is challenging. Opt for: "Hey, I do want to talk about this, but can we do it in person later instead of text?"
"Is this conversation worth having right now?": Use this liberally. If you're having a hard time, and things are escalating into another argument, ask your partner this. Is it worth having - in front of the kids, via text, on the way to _____ event, while you're 3 beers deep, right before bed. Often you'll find that slowing down the elevation speed of the argument helps you both get perspective.
Relationships are hard, and sometimes we make them harder without knowing it.
The purpose of this blog was to share a little bit of wisdom around relationships and try to help out a little bit. As a relationship coach, I'm able to help a two people at a time, and if a post like this helps just a few more people gain some insight into their own relationship - I've done my deed.
If this is interesting stuff, let me know. Leave a comment or share this post on facebook.
Thanks for reading.