Let’s face it. There are plenty of clichés about perfect relationships, where love conquers all and the happy couple walks off into the sunset. But the truth is, people are not perfect, so relationships are not always perfect either. There are plenty of issues that arise over the course of a relationship that belie the idea of ‘happily ever after,’ because no one can be happy all the time.
So how do we deal with these issues?
- Give up communicating everything all the time. Yes, communication is good. You may have a romantic vision of the two of you, staying up all night in front of the fire and talking. And isn’t it a lovely thing. But you really don’t have to tell everything. Not if it will be unnecessarily hurtful to your partner. Not if it’s just you, selfishly unburdening yourself without a thought of your partner’s feelings. There are some things better left unsaid. Know when to edit yourself.
- Have the courage to tell unpleasant truths. Even though you don’t have to tell everything, you do have to speak up when it’s warranted. When those pants really do make her look fat, perhaps a gentle suggestion to try a different pair would be a good thing. After all, you don’t have to be brutal. But you do have to be honest because ‘do unto others.’ You want her to be honest with you, so you have to be honest with her. And maybe that will help her think about losing weight.
- Understand you don’t have to agree. Romantics have the idea that they are simpatico in every way. That they agree on every topic. But, in fact, no two people can possibly have the same take on every issue. And on those issues that cause friction, let them rest. Learn to live with unresolved conflict. And learn to appreciate your partner’s unique views. Vive la difference!
- Accept that your partner is not perfect. When you’re newly in love your partner is flawless. Perfect. You love absolutely everything about him. Until his wonderful, forthright directness becomes his horrible, argumentative directness. Many fine qualities that you loved in the beginning can become double-edged swords. He’s not as perfect as you once thought. Guess what? You’re not perfect either.
- Don’t sacrifice yourself for the relationship. When we sublimate ourselves—our needs, our values, our desires—then we create an unhealthy relationship. If we lose who we are for the sake of the relationship, then we’ve made ourselves into martyrs, suffering for no reason. If you have to give up your identity to save the relationship, take a serious look at what’s happening. Chances are, you’re in an abusive situation.
Yes, it’s romantic to think that your happiness will be infinite. And there are plenty of couples who are very happy most of the time. But don’t let your idea of romance undermine your relationship. Understand that it has to rain to make the flowers grow.
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: http://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact-us.