Advertising
Advertising

Many Couples Just Give up Too Early and Too Easily

Many Couples Just Give up Too Early and Too Easily

We’ve all had the dream. You see the man or woman of our dreams across a crowded room. Your eyes lock. And at that moment you both know… And then you ride off into the sunset and begin your “happily ever after.”

While most people do get to experience “happy for a little while,”only a select few make it to “happily ever after.” Relationships are tough. And sustaining a relationship after the butterflies are gone, and you’ve seen her without make up or have been assaulted by his morning breath–is especially difficult.

Great relationships take LOTS of hard work

That is the honest, hard truth. A relationship takes time, effort, energy, patience and lots of work in order for it to succeed. Most people bail as soon as things get a little rocky. Society has deceived us into believing that if we are unhappy in a relationship, that is a sign that it wasn’t meant to be[1]. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Romantic comedies, fairy tales and sultry novels have distorted our view of a relationship’s dynamics.

Lisa Blum, Psy.D,– a clinical psychologist in California specializing in emotionally focused therapy for couples–believes

“The strongest most enduring relationships take lots of hard work… our culture, education system and parenting styles don’t prepare us for the fact that even good relationships take effort.”

Similar problems arise when they hop into a new relationship

Desiring a relationship and sustaining one are two very different things. Most people want to be in a relationship. According to the American Psychological Association, 90% of folks have been married, at least once, by the time the are 50[2]. The divorce rate for those who marry hovers somewhere between 40 and 50 percent. And the divorce rate for second or third marriages is even higher.

Divorce and break ups do end the relationship but don’t necessarily resolve any issues. This is why the divorce rate for subsequent marriages is so high. Most often a person will leave a relationship, hop into another one and repeat the same behaviors and cycles. It is easier to bounce from one relationship to another than it is to stick it out, put in the work and make your current relationship last.

That’s not to say that if the relationship is abusive or toxic that you should stay–especially if you aren’t married. There are times when breaking up is the best and safest course of action. Often times however, we quit because we feel unhappy, the passion has waned or we feel we are exerting too much energy to make the relationship work.

How to know if you should stay or not

So you’ve read the first part of this article but you’re still not sure if you should stick it out or not. Here are some things to consider:

Both of you are willing to do the work

Marriage is NOT 50/50. Marriage is 100%–however you can get there. It is rare that both people are in the same place–emotionally, spiritually, mentally and sexually–at the exact same time. Sometimes one person is in a position to give more in an area than the other. One may be putting in 70 and the other 30 and that’s ok–for a season.

Advertising

The problem arises when one person is always giving more than the other[3]. Having an off day or being in a bad place is understandable–laziness is not. If you are dating someone for a period of time and you realize that you are doing all the work in all areas–you may want to reconsider your position. That is not sustainable–or healthy–over a long period of time.

You feel fulfilled, though sometimes unhappy

Happiness is relative and dependent on external circumstances. It ebbs and flows with the tides of life. Fulfillment, however is a more constant and steady state. It doesn’t change as often as happiness does. Fulfillment, not happiness should be the barometer of your relationship.

If you are a neat freak and your partner leaves their clothes on the floor, eats food in bed, tracks mud all throughout the house and never cleans up after themselves you are going to be unhappy–a lot. However, if you feel safe, loved unconditionally[4] and valued as a person you are more likely to be in a continuous state of fulfillment even though your happiness comes and goes. If a relationship is fulfilling for both people and they both are willing to do what they can when they can, then the relationship is solid.

Happily ever after doesn’t just happen: 3 top problems couples face

Having a fulfilling, healthy and long lasting relationship takes time and effort. Here are the top three problems couples face and must deal with–continuously–in order to achieve the fairy tale:

Loss of passion and excitement

Loss of passion is absolutely, 100% normal and is experienced by all couples. The “high” you experience during the early stages of love are similar to what a drug addict feels when he snorts cocaine. When you are in love, your brain is swimming in the “feel good” chemicals–dopamine and norepinephrine[5]. They are addicting. Which is why break ups are so hard.

Advertising

Overtime the chemicals begin to wear off and your body begins to regulate the production and release of these chemicals. This is a natural and physiological process. However, most mistake it as a sign that the love is fading or the relationship is dying. They end that relationship and seek out another so the can experience the love”high” again.

Here are some very practical things you can do to reignite the spark of romance[6] and add a bit of excitement back into your relationship:

  • Engage in new activities with each other. Ditch the routine and shake things up a bit.
  • Add some mystery and excitement into the bedroom. Play around with lingerie, mood lighting, fragrances, and edibles. Tantalize all 5 senses in a different way. Try something new (but make sure both parties are “in to” whatever you suggest).
  • Seek arousal-producing activities. Things that get your heart racing and blood pumping are also good for the libido. Research shows that if you participate in an activity together that creates an endorphin and adrenaline rush you create a state of heightened arousal that can be transferred to your relationship.

Communication issues

The number one issues underpinning most problems in a relationship is communication[7]. When communication breaks down, fights happen, people get hurt, and the relationship suffers.

Communication involves so much more than just verbal discussions. Understanding how to speak to your significant other in a manner that resonates with them is key. The 5 Love Languages[8] is a great place to start. The premise of this book and communication model is best summed up by the words of the book’s author Gary Chapman:

“My conclusion after thirty years of marriage counseling is that there are basically five emotional love languages—five ways that people speak and understand emotional love. In the field of linguistics a language may have numerous dialects or variations. Similarly, within the five basic emotional love languages, there are many dialects….The important thing is to speak the love language of your spouse.”

According to Chapman, the 5 love languages are:

  • Words of Affirmation: Expressing affection through spoken affection, praise, or appreciation.
  • Acts of Service: Actions, rather than words, are used to show and receive love.
  • Receiving Gifts: Gifting is symbolic of love and affection.
  • Quality Time: Expressing affection with undivided attention.
  • Physical Touch: It can be sex or holding hands. With this love language, the speaker feels affection through physical touch.

Lack of appreciation (taking each other for granted)

This is another one of those things that is inevitable in a long term relationship. You don’t mean to take each other for granted–it just happens over time. Taking each other for granted and focusing on the negatives of your mate or the relationship is detrimental and will keep you in a constant state of unhappiness. Once you’ve been unhappy long enough, you will start to question your level of fulfillment.

An excellent way to actively and intentionally combat this is by incorporating the 5:1 rule into your thinking and communication with your spouse. For every one negative between you, you should find five positives. For every negative comment you should dole out five compliments. This trains your brain to focus on the positives in lieu of the negatives. It also helps you develop and maintain an attitude of gratitude toward your relationship and your mate.

Relationships are tough. They require constant nurturing and attention. Having realistic expectations and a plan to combat the loss of passion and excitement, communication issues and failing to appreciate and cherish one another are the secrets to happily ever after.

Reference

[1] PsychCentral: 8 Surprising Myths About Relationships
[2] American Psychological Association: Marriage & Divorce
[3] Huffington Post: Good Relationships Take Hard Work
[4] Hill Writing & Editing: Are Humans Truly Capable of Unconditional Love
[5] brainHQ: Your Brain In Love
[6] Greatist: Am I Just Bored or Should We Break Up?
[7] Verily Mag: HOW TO COMBAT THE PROVEN 7-YEAR-ITCH RELATIONSHIP ROADBLOCK
[8] lifehacker: The 5 Love Languages
Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on September 11, 2020

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

No one wants to suffer. As a general rule, people like to avoid hurt and pain as much as possible. As a species, humans want a painless existence so much that scientists make a living trying to create it.

People can now choose “pain-free” labor for babies, and remedies to cure back pain, headaches, body-pains and even mental pains are a dime a dozen. Beyond medicine, we also work hard to experience little pain even when it comes to loss; often times we believe a breakup won’t hurt as much if we are the ones to call it off.

But would a world without pain truly be painless? It’s unlikely. In fact, it would probably be painful exactly for that reason.

If people never experienced hurt, they wouldn’t know what it was. On the surface level, that seems like a blessing, but think for a moment: if we didn’t know pain, how would we know peace? If you don’t know you’ve hurt or been hurt, how would you know that you need to heal? Imagine someone only knowing they have an incurable cancer at the final stage because no obvious symptoms have appeared at early stages.

Without the feeling of pain, people won’t be aware of dangerous situations—what should or shouldn’t do for survival.

Advertising

Pain Is Our Guardian

Pain serves to protect human beings from harmful actions. It’s the same reason parents teach babies that fire equals hot, and that hot equals hurt. Should the baby still place its hand in a fire or on a stove, the intense pain remains so memorable, that the child is certain never to repeat that action.

In the same way, pain within human bodies can serve as a warning that something is not right. Because you know what it is to feel “well,” you know what it is to feel poorly.[1]

Along with serving as a teacher of what not to do, pain also teaches you what you are made of in terms of what you can handle as an individual.

While the cliche, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a tired term, it’s used excessively for a reason: it’s true. Pain helps you learn to cope with life’s inevitable difficulties and sadnesses— to develop the grit it takes to push past hardships and carry on.

Whether it’s a shattering pain, like the loss of a loved one or a debilitating accident, pain affects everyone differently. But it still affects everyone. Take a breakup as an example, anyone who has experienced it knows it can hurt to the point of feeling physical. Especially the first breakup. At a young age, it feels like the loss of the only love you’ll ever know. As you grow and learn, you realize you’re more resilient with every ended relationship.

Advertising

No Pain, No Happiness

You only know happiness when you have known pain. While the idea of constant happiness sounds nice, there is little chance it would be. Without the comparison to happiness, there’s no reason to be grateful for it. That is to say, without ever knowing sadness or pain, you would have no reason to be grateful for happiness.

In reality, there is always something missing, or something unpleasant, but it is only through those realizations that you know to be grateful when you feel you have it all. Read more about why happiness and pain have to exist together: Chasing Happiness Won’t Make You Happy

In a somewhat counter-intuitive finding, researchers found one of the things that brings about the most happiness is challenge. When people are tested, they experience a greater sense of accomplishment and happiness when they are successful. It is largely for this reason that low-income individuals can often feel happier than those who have a sense of wealth.[2]

This is a great thing to remember the next time you feel you would be happier if you just had a little more cash.

Avoiding Pain Leads to More Suffering

Pain is inevitable, embrace it positively. Anyone who strives to have a painless life is striving for perfectionism; and perfectionism guarantees sadness because nothing will ever be perfect.

Advertising

This isn’t a bleak outlook, but rather a truthful one. The messy moments in life tend to create the best memories and gratitude. Pain often serves as a reminder of lessons learned, much like physical scars on the body.

Pain will always be painful, but it’s the hurt feelings that help wiser decisions be made.

Allow Room for the Inevitable

Learning how to tolerate pain, especially the emotional kind, is a valuable lesson.

Accepting and feeling pain makes you human. There is no weakness in that. Weakness only comes when you try to blame your own pain on someone else, expecting the blame to alleviate your hurting. There’s a saying,

“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.”

Think back to the last time you were really angry with someone. Maybe you were hurt because you got laid off from a job. You felt angry and that anger caused so much pain that you could feel it in a physical way. Being angry and blaming your ex boss for that pain didn’t affect him or her in any way; you’re the only one who lost sleep over it.

The healthier thing to do in a situation like that is acknowledge your pain and the anger along with it. Accept it and explore it in an introspective way. How can you learn and grow? What is at the root of that pain? Are you truly hurting and angry about being laid off, or is the pain more a correlation to you feeling like you failed?

While uncomfortable, exploring your pain is a way to raise your self-awareness. By understanding more about yourself, you know how to deal with similar situations in the future. You can never expect to be numb to difficult situations, but you will learn to better prepare financially for the loss of a job and be grateful for an income since you now know nothing is promised (no matter how much you work or how deserving you may feel).

Pain Hurts, but Numbness Would Be Worse

Pain does not feel good, but the bad feeling of it will help you learn and grow. It makes the sweet moments in life even sweeter and the gratitude more sincere.

To have a happier and more successful life, you don’t learn from success or accomplishment, but through pain and failures. For it is in those moments that you learn how to do better in the future or at least cope a little more easily.

Advertising

You are the strong person you are today because of the hardships this life has presented to you. While you may have felt out of control when those hard times came, the one thing you will always have control over is how you choose to react to things. The next time you hurt or you’re angry or sad, acknowledge it and allow yourself to ruminate in it. Then take a deep breath and start learning from that pain. You’ve got this!

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

[1] University of Calgary: Why is Pain Important?
[2] Greater Good Magazine: The Importance of Pain