It’s often said that marriage takes work. If that’s the case, the same can be said about a relationship. But what is meant by “work” and how much work should it take? These are important questions to consider because I’ve seen times when singles think that it’s right and good that they have to work really hard (too hard) at a relationship.
Synonyms for work include effort, exertion, labor, toil, grind, and drudgery. The only terms I’d recommend to have a successful relationship are the first two. Beyond these, I would say the words in the list are increasingly inappropriate. Hopefully no one would expect to have a relationship be a grind or drudgery, but having given birth, I would say even “labor” is more work than I’d expect on a typical day.
Certainly it requires effort to take the risks and demonstrate the commitment a relationship needs. There may be sacrifice and putting the needs or desires of our beloved ahead of own at times, which we could call exertion. When the effort gets so great that it becomes exhausting or a constant struggle, or when we continually acquiesce, we need to reexamine things. Caring for and communicating with our partner should be joyful and energy-creating and generally not feel like work, but rather an act of love. Misunderstandings happen, especially early on, but they will be atypical if the relationship is meant to be, not something we’re constantly trying to prevent.
A strong, healthy relationship is worth the effort. Periodically step back and assess if that describes your relationship: strong, healthy, and worth the effort you put in. If it is, then you’re doing the right kind and right amount of work.
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