You've surely heard the saying, "whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger." This is an incredibly accurate statement, especially when it comes to relationships. We often find that couples, whether they are newly together or have been together for some time, tend towards trying to avoid the conversations and confrontations that challenge their ideas about the relationship and cause them discomfort. It's not surprising, really. In general, people tend to relate to the things that are challenging as being "bad" and things that are easy as being "good".
While I'm sure you recognize that some of your periods of discomfort have also been times of some of your greatest growth, that doesn't necessarily mean that you are ready to take all major challenges head-on. If you're like most people, you'll have at least some hesitation.
Especially when it comes to our intimate relationships, most of us have a tendency to avoid the issues that might rock the boat, and while it might save us a disagreement in the moment, these issues often make their way to the surface over time. When they do, if they are not addressed in healthy ways, they often make their way out in ways that can be reckless and even damaging to the relationship.
All couples will at times find themselves in difficult situations, but there are couples who use these instances to strengthen what they have and those that allow these challenges to tear them apart. In this post, we're looking at how difficulties can bring couples closer together rather than dividing them.
In relationships, most people find themselves in a predicament of being caught somewhere between resignation and resentment.
Some people will choose to spend their lives with another person for money, for comfort, or for other reasons, and in order to make it "work" they shut down aspects of themselves, getting less than what they truly want (and deserve). On the opposite end, there are some people that feel that a relationship threatens their freedom or their peace and so they have short-lived relationships, resisting the inevitable change that happens as a relationship evolves.
Both of these examples are responses to the challenges that are bound to happen in relationships. In the first instance, the person gives in to the challenge, or gives up, becoming a prisoner so-to-speak. When a person sees that the only way to have this relationship is to sacrifice something important, they are in a position in which they must choose to make that sacrifice for the sake of the relationship or risk losing it.
In the second instance, the person resists the idea of having to make a sacrifice(s) and they run from the relationship. They often think that one day they'll meet someone that will not require that "sacrifice" from them. Of course, this is mistaken because truly incorporating another person into our lives involves change. What must be questioned is the idea that making this change is a sacrifice at all.
While both instances are ways of reacting to the challenges that are arising, neither of them actually resolve anything. Rather, they are avoidance tactics: Either cave and resign to the challenges, or run from them.
Successful relationships, on the other hand, are made up of two people running into the challenges. They "take them on".
The challenges that we don't work through don't just go away. If there is an area of resistance or discomfort in your relationship, it's not going to disappear. You can ignore it and you can look the other way, but events will continue to take place that remind you of the unresolved issues and you will feel it over and over again. Until you begin to resolve these issues, you have no choice but to repress them or run from them.
It's important to note that often one partner will want to "take on" the challenges while the other will not. In our work with couples, we have found that there is usually one partner who is more insistent on "doing the work" than the other. One of the partners is really taking in the coaching, doing everything in their power to resolve the challenges they are facing; the other partner wishes they would just leave well-enough alone.
What's happening here is that one partner wants to run into the challenges to resolve them and heal the relationship while the other partner is wanting to avoid them altogether. They might say, "There is nothing wrong with our relationship, I don't see why we need to do this."
If your partner says that there is something to work on, there is. Period. They are telling you that some need they have in this relationship is not being fulfilled. If you want the relationship to work, this must be taken seriously.
If your partner is absolutely closed to growing in this way and you feel strongly that it is important, you can never really be fulfilled with that person.
Coaching is not about something being wrong with the relationship--all relationships have challenges. Coaching is about addressing these challenges on your terms so that you can deepen your relationship through navigating those challenges. When you don't address them on your terms, these difficulties surface in harmful ways that oftentimes end up destroying the relationship.
We have seen many instances in which the relationship might have been salvaged had the couple reached out for coaching support sooner. By the time they did, their bitterness and resignation were so strong, they no longer saw the possibility of being in Love with each other. This is why taking on your challenges together is so important.
The good news is that working through the challenges as a couple prepares you for the future together. On the other side of every difficult situation, discussion, or confrontation, you will find yourselves in a deeper level of intimacy.
The challenges that come up reveal what your partner is not telling you, the things that you would not talk about if the difficulty had not come up; because it did, you now know them better.
You learn more about who they are, how they think, and what they want because you work through a challenging time together.
The problems that you resolve as a team create confidence for your future and they give you the skills that you need to succeed together. What you'll find is that the more "fights" that you have (and they don't have to be big "fights"), the more skilled you become at working through them, the less you become angry, and the more you understand what your partner really needs from you. And they learn the same about you.
Relationship difficulties are always a good thing if you let them be. They teach you to be a better partner, they increase your capacity for understanding, and they build trust for the future.
In all relationships, you'll come to what we call a make-or-break point. (Long term relationships will have many of these.) This is the point where things become so difficult that you consider leaving the relationship, the point where you question if you can really do this. As scary as these times are, this is always a good thing.
When, as a couple, you stand at this point together and choose to keep going, you affirm something very powerful that becomes ingrained in your "couple DNA"--that we are stronger than the challenge that is coming before us. If we can overcome this, we can overcome anything.
The relationships that come to this point and do not make it aren't really worth hanging onto to begin with. You don't want a relationship with someone who's just hanging around because nothing has ever motivated them to leave. You want someone who was motivated to leave and they chose to stay and work through it because that's how much you matter to them.
In all areas of life, we test things to determine if they are dependable.
Let's take a plane for example. Airplane testing is extremely extensive and elaborate. Planes only make it into the air after exhaustive testing, everything from throwing debris into the engines to bending the wings to extreme angles. You wouldn't get into a plane that hadn't been tested. How would you know that it's safe? Relationships are no different.
Relationship problems are the things that test the relationship to see if it's worth holding on to. We'll sometimes encounter a couple that has been together for some time and has never really confronted serious difficulties together. Now they're being faced with something so serious that they can't overlook, and their relationship is on the brink of falling apart because they lack the experience and the skills to navigate it.
Their lack of experience in working through challenges together failed to prepare them for the times when it really matters. Learning to be with each other in difficult times is just as important as, if not more than, how you are with each other in joyous times.
Live joyously and Love deeply, but don't let your desire for happiness lead you to avoid the things that make you uncomfortable. That is a surefire way of becoming stuck in unfulfilling cycles in life. When you see work to do, do it. When you feel stuck and unfulfilled but you're not sure why, figure it out. Talking to a coach can often support with that as well.
Never resign yourself to less than the Love that you truly want the most. Don't run from the relationship--run towards it and do the work that's there until it's done. That is the only way you'll know if you really gave it everything you have and the only way you'll ever create the Love you're really looking for.
Thanks for reading <3
We believe that Love makes the world a better place and we want you to have it!
Having gone through many years of the dating drama, finding and creating the Love we've always wanted, and still working on it every. single. day.--we've learned a few things about how two people can find happiness in a Life together.
Love is the most magical part of Life. If you're missing it, you're missing out.
As a culture, the way that we've learned to do relationships is not the way to find True Love.
We've all picked up a lot of bad relationship habits
and it's time to unlearn them. When you do, you
will start to see that the Love you're looking for is
well within your reach.
True Love may be hard to find, but it doesn't have
to be that way.
It's time for a new kind of relationship, a departure from the modern dating drama and toxicity that so many of us have come to accept as normal.
At The Living Relationship, we create relationships that most people only ever dream about.
For more information about how you can work with us and how doing so will transform your life and relationships, click here. We'd love to get to know you.