Here is a fast fact: When NASA launches a spacecraft, it uses about 90% of its fuel breaking free of the Earth’s atmosphere. And that is a hell of a lot. After it clears the pull of this gravitational force of earth, considerably less fuel is required, allowing it to travel great distances while expending far less energy.
This principle also applies to relationships: The early stages (after you pass phase of lust and infatuation) are where the real work begins. That work is about committed listening, letting go of control, practicing vulnerability, overcoming resistance to change, being honest, even in the face of fear, and focusing on your own work rather than trying to change your partner. Like mastering any other new skill, it takes a lot to hang in there and muddle through the demanding times. The required effort is often great and the challenge can be scary, leading many to conclude that it’s not worth it or that they don’t have the stamina and perseverance to work forever at this level.
I am unsure what gave us the idea that love and relationships is not hard work. Well, it is kind of true- it should not be insanely difficult. But the bad news is that there is some form of effort and agony in it.
But the good news would be that it does not last forever- I can promise you that.
And here is the trick: Perseverance! That has to do with the with the willingness to make the sustained necessary effort to confront the challenges and to work through them. Particularly in the face of fear and distress. Trust pertains to the confidence that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Cultivating any new skill or even studying takes a lot of effort and practice. Not giving up. I still remember when I studies law that all those cases I had to memorize really tested my perseverance. But in the end I made it. And can today say it was worth it. So developing the skill of effective relating in a relationship is no different, even though it’s easy to forget that most of us are, to varying degrees, inexperienced and unschooled in this area.
Because we may not think of relationships as something that you need to develop skills for, it’s easy to forget that this process is no different than the development of other competencies. We tend to think that if the feeling is there, then the relationship should just “naturally” thrive. Yet while loving another person isn’t enough on its own to insure a blissful future together, we do have the ability to participate in our relationships in a ways that strongly influence the degree to which they will thrive. And if you are like me- I have acquired quite a few of unsavory habits in past relationships that I had to get rid off in order for my marriage to thrive.
The amount of time that we spend in the early stages of this process and the slope of the learning curve has to do with our willingness and ability to learn the lessons that relationships continually provide us with. These lessons are about honesty, letting go, non-judgment, responsibility, commitment, compassion, risk, and openness—for starters. The more dedicated we are to mastering these learning opportunities, the faster we will internalize the skills and competencies that good relationships require.
As we integrate these abilities, replacing old defensive habits with new, more effective practices, the work becomes easier and more natural. We automatically begin doing the things that work and let go of habituated responses that no longer serve us. While this takes time and the process is gradual, if you can stick with it, the result is not only worth the effort, it’s beyond what most of us ever thought possible.
So yes, it is SUPER hard work. It is uncomfortable sometimes and we make mistakes. But forgiveness and change is the key to your success
Sending all of you love and light!