A Relationship Reality Check Before Valentine’s Day


By Mvusi Ngubane    05-Feb-2019 13:34 UTC+02:00

Yet again, the arrival of February brings with it that sweet scent of love. It is in the air, so to speak, and right now you’re probably thinking that you and your special someone have a bond unlike any other. Well, don’t be so sure. Romantic relationships are hard work, and the upkeep of love can be an emotionally draining task all on its own. The easy part is believing that nothing can come between you and your shnookums. After all, people tend to feel a surge of invincibility when their passions are heightened.

No, today’s post isn’t some bitter foretelling about the inevitable end of your relationship. Consider it as a reality check, or perhaps a chance to reflect on how compatible you and your bae really are. Because if you’re not, what on earth are you two doing? Fighting the odds? How very romantic of you.

Fact no. 1: Love and passion fluctuate over time

When it all began, you just couldn’t keep your hands off each other. Do you remember that jolt of excitement that came with every text message, falling in love a thousand times over with every kiss you shared? Well, things won’t always be that way.

You and your partner may feel the flares of love diminish over the course of your relationship. This is normal, according to experts, and certainly not an issue worth losing sleep over.

New York City’s Rachael Sussman is a relationship boffin. According to her, couples will inevitably see their passions dwindle over time. This is perfectly normal, she insists, and should actually be expected. No need to panic though. There are many ways to bring back the spark.

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, a saying that Sussman relays as advice for couples living together. Indeed, couples should often see their time apart as a good thing. Go visit grandma with the kids for a week, or take a weekend trip away with your friends. In all likelihood, you’re only sick of each because there hasn’t been much time to miss each other.

You could also consider taking up new and fun activities together. There are very few things that can reignite love than a new commitment you both enjoy. Try introducing a weekly movie night, join a salsa dancing club, or learn to surf together. The choices are limitless. Dedicated time together helps strengthen relationship bonds and can work as a reminder that both of you actually do enjoy the company of each other.

Fact no. 2: Relationships can be limiting instead of liberating

Remember that marriage certificate joke made in our previous love post? Lol! If you’d like another go at it, or to learn some important facts about the benefits of open communication, be sure to take a look at these top-tier reasons to consider couples’ therapy and premarital counseling.

In essence: the more serious relationships get, the more binding they tend to feel. Sadly, complete happiness is something difficult to come by, both in life and in our relationships. This goes against all those liberating effects of love that people loudly boast about.

Much like life itself, your relationship will have its fair share of ups and downs. It might even feel like the ups come a lot less frequent than the downs. Again, this is normal according to writer Ellen McCarthy. She advises couples that are dedicated to pushing things long-term not to take “happily ever after” quite so literally.

“It will be hard,” she writes. Going on, McCarthy further explains that there will be times when all seems lost in the relationship, and that parting ways might seem like a better option in such instances. “There will be times when one or both of them want out and can barely stand the sight of each other. That they’ll be bored, then frustrated, angry, and perhaps resentful.”

Fact no. 3: Relationships often fail over pride and stubbornness

Couples are in many ways a lot like a team. This means that both parties need to contribute in some form or another. And no, that is not a hint at money. One partner staying at home to oversee the home life instead of working is not a problem for many couples. However, it is possible for both or either partner to be less supportive than expected about certain life goals or wants.

Different values and conflicting long-term goals are huge red flag. It suggests that you and your lover are not compatible. On the other hand, one of you could be imposing unrealistic expectations onto the other.

According to Dr. Ruth, who makes a living advising couples, most people have extremely high expectations about the trajectory of their relationship and romance in general. This often leaves one partner feeling controlled and resentful.

The thing is: it is easier to call it quits right there and then if the relationship hasn’t developed into anything substantial. “We both wanted different things,” you’d say, and that would be that. After several years together, though, you will find that leaving a long-term lover over a bit of compromise is not worth it.

Learning to make certain sacrifices in order to support your partner’s wants could save your relationship. Also keep in mind that people evolve and are molded by different experiences over the course of their lives. This evolution does not stop just because you’re in a relationship. So, for a comfortable and unyielding love, both partners need to be willing to evolve with each other over and over again.

Fact no. 4: Therapy could save your relationship

Considering therapy for you and your partner might feel like an admission that things are not going well. This is not at all the case. Therapy is important and provides a lot of clarity for both partners. If you have stayed away from talking about your ideas of ideal husbands or ideal wives, know that this can only lead to a sense of disappointment and resentment later down the line.

The sort of compromises you would both have to make are a critical conversation to touch on as well. All these things and more come up in couples’ counseling. The true goal of the practice is to send couples out into their relationships with a deeper and more grounded understanding of their feelings and life goals, and how they can make those goals a reality while keeping each other happy.

The cost of a session is the equivalent of a fancy night out, say a few hundred to about a thousand rands. But before you recoil from that statement, ask yourself this: can you really afford to leave your relationship unattended? You have nothing to lose and a whole life together to gain.

There you have it – some hard truths to swallow ahead of pursuing a long-term romantic relationship. Fact is: love is a lot of hard work, and don’t let Hollywood or storybooks convince you otherwise.

Who knows, bearing the advice offered in this post, you’ll probably be deeply rooted in reality the next time love tries to sweep you off your feet.


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