Even in the best of situations, relationships can be difficult.
Most people would agree that they aren’t the easiest thing in the world to navigate, no matter how compatible you feel you and your partner are.
But there are some within the personal growth movement who adopt the school of thought that relationships should be easy—that it’s negative or pessimistic to say that they’re difficult. In fact, differing opinions on the subject frequently lead to debate.
I often say, though, that long-term relationships are complicated and hard. Marriage is probably the hardest. There are reasons I say that, so let’s take a little deeper look into whether relationships should be hard or easy.
Relationships Aren’t Easy—and “Easy” Is Relative
For someone who grows up with a secure attachment, as my wife and I have worked toward building with our own kids, relationships should be more straightforward. We place a high value on relationships and do our best to impart that value to our kids. That way, when they enter into long-term relationships as adults, it will be easier for them—but easy, like everything, is relative.
For the vast majority of us, relationships nowadays are a lot more complicated. A lot of us probably feel like we’re not easy to love. We often get triggered and upset in a stressful situation, and that’s where the complications begin.
There are a lot of factors involved, like our history and our childhood…past breakups and baggage…experiences we’ve had. And keep in mind it’s the same for your partner, which further convolutes adult relationships. Most of us wonder at some point, “Why is love so hard?”
Issues Have to Be Dealt with, Especially in Difficult Relationships
The good news is that when these issues come up—and they will come up at some point—it provides you with an opportunity for growth and healing. We all have emotional pain and injuries that probably aren’t dealt with, and of course, dealing with them is much healthier than avoiding them.
That’s why long-term relationships are a path to personal transformation as long as you approach challenges as a student. Each challenge gives you an opportunity to learn about yourself, your partner, and your relationship together.
As you start to communicate your needs, learn how to repair well after a conflict, and learn what works and doesn’t work for your partner, you create an incredible playground for you to build on.
But you know what? It’s work!
Here’s a quick video on the difficulty of relationships:
Challenge Always Leads to Growth
Relationships are complicated. Think of a relationship like a workout—yoga, CrossFit, Pilates, any type of workout. I don’t know any fitness person who would say their workout is easy. Otherwise, why would they do it?
Without challenge, there’s no progress. If you walk away from a workout without breaking a sweat or using a muscle, what’s the purpose of doing it?
As any weight lifter will tell you, once you get to the point where your workout is easy, it means you need to add more weight. If it’s easy, you’re doing something wrong. The point is to challenge yourself and grow—to become stronger in every way.
That’s the essence of a growth-oriented person—someone who loves to learn about themselves and challenge themselves to grow and keep growing.
Yes, Relationships Are Complicated, but Work Leads to Reward
So, if you approach relationships with the same mindset as you approach workouts, I think that’s a solid view. Are you a growth-oriented person? Are you ready to face challenges and continue on a path of self-understanding?
If you want to reap the benefits of your workouts—namely, health and strength, among other things—then you have to work for it in the long term. You have to stay on top of it and keep working for it.
And the same is true for difficult relationships. Relationships aren’t easy, but you can only reap the benefits as long as you’re willing to put in the work.
Later on, you’ll be thrilled to show off those toned and bulging relationship muscles—but keep adding that weight little by little to keep growing.
If you’d like to learn three keys to resolving conflict and disagreement quickly, check out this free training.