If you're reading this article, it comes as no surprise that relationships are hard work. They are full of disagreements, disappointments, compromises and challenges. There's nothing too wrong with those moments. It means you're being honest and your authentic self because let's face it, we all role play a little in the beginning to impress our partners and then our true selves spill out overtime. But at what point does the relationship turn from hard work to not working? Here's a few variables to jog your thought process:
1. What is your motivation for staying in this relationship?
So your relationship is on a rocky road right now and you may feel like you've exhausted all of your resources and everything in your toolkit, but not so much that you've called it quits. Are you all still fighting for each other or against each other? Are you seeking to understand or just to be understood? Are you frustrated or are you fed up and done?
Check your motives. In episode 3 of ReparTay, we talked about how love is a choice. Are you still trying to choose this person to love and figure life out with or are you making a decision to stay in fear that you'll be alone? More than likely, if you found yourself reading through this article, there's a glimmer of hope in your heart to make this work and that's okay!
2. Are the conversations respectful?
Disagreements should be expected in a relationship because it's two similar but different people trying to make something shake. Are your conversations a meeting of the minds or an exchange of hurtful words? Are you all listening actively or are you listening defensively? Are you all speaking in a calm, respectful tone or are you all yelling and cursing each other out? If you're more of the latter, you should evaluate if this communication style is healthy for you and your relationship, because that just won't last for long before something is said that can't be taken back. That's not working.
If you're still leaning towards your relationship being hard work, there's still hope. You and your partner, when cooler heads prevail, should sit together and establish communication strategies that are healthy and constructive for you both. Disagreements do not have to turn into arguments if you and your partner try to fight fair. Listen to what your significant other is saying, relay it back to them to be sure you understood correctly, and then offer your perspective.
Also, check your partners intentions. If you have studied your mate like I encouraged in episode 4 of ReparTay, then you should know whether your partner has done something intentionally to hurt or disrespect you. In most cases, your partner's intention were not to hurt you. In fact, they probably don't even know how what they've done has affected you. Examining intentions can cut down on a lot of conversations about small things as well. You want to be sure that when you get into the ring with your partner, it's something worth fighting with them about.
Remember that your partner is just that, your partner. He/she is not your enemy so when you're gearing up to have a courageous conversation, talk with them, not to them. You all should be working together and not against each other.
3. Are your significant other's behaviors a deal breaker for you?
Relationships are all about compromises. You got to give and sometimes you got to take. At no point should you or your partner settle and overlook any behavior that is a deal breaker for you. Do you know what your deal breakers are? If so, have you communicated them to your partner? This part requires some real honesty. If you have expressed your deal breakers to your partner, have they actively tried to discontinue that behavior or are they just WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get)?
If your partner has actively been trying, be patient. It takes 90 days to make something a habit, so do not expect your partner or yourself to make these changes over night. You have to decide if you are able to exercise grace and patience while your partner continues to try to change something they may have been doing for years. Tell me (well your partner), can you stand the rain?
4. Are you the problem?
The biggest takeaway I want you all to get from this is that the only person you can control is you. While there may be areas your partner can do better in, you aren't perfect by any stretch of the imagination. Have you examined your contributions to what caused some discord in your relationship? Could you have been more patient, gentle, supportive, honest, etc? Have you even asked your partner how you could be better for them? If so, have you been actively trying to be the person your partner needs? Have you done anything to personally develop yourself to be a better lover? For example, take a love language test.
I like to use love languages in my own relationship. My love language is words of affirmation (shocked right? - me too) and my partner's is physical touch. I have to make sure I'm feeding his love language the way I expect him to feed mine. Sometimes, I'll slap my cold feet on his leg to make him feel my love lol.
I also just recently learned that there is a such thing as an apology language. Much like a love language, it assess how you receive apologies best. For example, my results revealed to me that "accept responsibility" is my top apology language. This means, "I'm sorry" for me, is inadequate because it lacks responsibility. Instead, "I'm sorry my actions hurt you" is easier for me to understand and digest.
As a person who constantly struggles with forgiveness, this was very important. For awhile, I was not able to completely verbalize how I needed my partner to make things better. I always felt like saying "sorry isn't enough" without context was a douchebag thing to say to someone. Now, because I dedicated time to research on my own ways I can be better for my partner, I can adequately explain to my partner what I need and give him a better opportunity to do the same for me.
5. Being companions does not make you compatible.
One thing that always helps me when I'm faced with a difficult choice is making a pros and cons list. In this case, I'd suggest making your list "what works" and "what doesn't work". Make your list when you're not emotional and when you have some real time to dedicate to it. Then once you feel like you've jotted it all down, compare each list to each other.
If your "what works" outweighs "what doesn't work" then your relationship may just be hard work. That's good! Relationships should stretch and grow you for the better. On the contrary, if your "what doesn't work list" outweighs your "what works" list, it may be time to accept a hard truth. The relationship has run it's course and it may be time to move on. it does not make you or your partner wrong. It doesn't mean you two weren't companions. It may just mean you all were not compatible as partners.
Lastly, before you do anything at all, I highly encourage you to pray. Talk to God about what's going on in your love life. He should be included in that area of your life. Let Him guide you and direct you as to what your next move should be. When you pray, make sure you then set aside some quiet time for God to talk back to you. Remember that prayer is a two-way conversation. You talked to God, now make sure you listen to what he has to say.