Whenever someone says something along the lines of “relationships are hard work” (typically with an emphasis on “hard”), typically my response will be, “I prefer to say that relationships require daily maintenance.” While on the surface, it might seem like I’m splitting hairs, think about a garden and I think you’ll get where I’m coming from.
When you first decide to grow a garden, it’s definitely a lot of work to get it started. You’ve gotta break ground, pull up stones, fertilize the soil, plant seeds…I’m getting tired just thinking about it. But once your garden is all set, so long as you water it, make sure the soil (the foundation) is good, check for weeds and pests and keep up with when it’s time to harvest, for the most part, you’re all set.
So yeah, to me, a healthy relationship, is a lot like a garden. It may require a lot of work at first because you’re getting the foundation laid. But if you both are committed to nurturing the relationship once it’s been established, it shouldn’t require tons of blood, sweat, and tears. It really shouldn’t.
And just what do two people need to do in order to maintain their relationship with one another?
Have you ever noticed that some of the basic rules of courtesy we’re taught as children are the ones that seem to go totally out of the window once we’re grown and interacting with the people closest to us? Strangers and co-workers aren’t the only ones who deserve to hear “please” or “thank you”. They also aren’t the only individuals who should receive actual requests when we need something or should be told that they are appreciated when said request is granted.
One of the main reasons why a lot of people feel taken for granted in their relationships is because their partner fails to show good manners to them. It sounds elementary, but I promise that if you’re more polite, it truly can do wonders for your relationship.
Ask. Don’t Assume.
Something else that most of us heard while growing up is if we assume, it will make a total ass of us. Yet, when I’m in the middle of a counseling session, I can’t tell you how many times one or both people have told me that they are frustrated with their partner because they know they are thinking “this” or they know they are going to do “that”.
Yeah, I know a lot of us women think that we are so intuitive that we can constantly read our man’s mind. I also know that kind of presumption tends to piss a lot of men off. No matter how long you’ve been with someone, they’re forever gonna be capable of doing something that surprises you. Therefore, if you really want to know something, give them the respect of asking rather assuming what they are going to say or do. And yes, require they do the same thing for you in return.
Apologize. And Forgive.
There is someone I used to be very close to who I had to stop being close with, basically for one major reason—they refused to apologize. Like ever. Something that life experience has taught me is if someone wrongs me or even just hurts my feelings and they refuse to address it, that’s a form of toxicity that I can do without.
I did some research into why some people seem to be wired this way. Many psychologists say that some individuals don’t apologize because they have trouble separating their actions from their character (they think what they are apologizing for is both). Others say people don’t do it because they feel that apologizing will trigger other unwanted conversations (like they might apologizing for being perpetually late and that will turn into their other “flaws”).
Personally, I think it has more to do with egomania than anything. Oh, and the title of this article right here. If someone is not nice to themselves, it’s only a matter of time before they show out, on some level, with their partner. Life is too short to not work through things. When you know you’ve done wrong or even when your partner simply brings hurt feelings (at your hand) to your attention, it’s an act of humility and love to apologize.
On the flip side, in order for relationships to be healthy, it’s also important to forgive. People who can’t forgive also baffle me because it sends the message that others should accept their flaws, missteps and wrongdoings, but those same individuals aren’t deserving of that very same reception. No relationship is perfect; that’s because both people in them aren’t.