Relationships are not easy.
Few things inspire like a Hollywood romance; the uncertain fate of destined lovers battling relentlessly against some goliath-sized obstacle until finally they overcome and live happily ever after. The movie ends, the lights come on, and you sit there wondering, “Why can’t I have that?”.
If you are blushing right now, don’t worry. It’s not just you 😉 At some point most of us have probably secretly (or not so secretly) coveted the storybook romance. The problem is, such stories are made more for our pocketbooks than for our love life. When it comes to real-life, healthy relationships, love just isn’t that simple. Here are 3 common obstacles real couples face on their journey to storybook bliss.
Falling in love feels great. Biochemically, it’s like a party in your nervous system. But when things become routine and the excitement wears off it can be hard to know what’s next. Without a common vision, most relationships don’t make it far down storybook lane.
One person wants to settle down and start a family. The other isn’t ready to swap their freedom for responsibility. One partner feels ready for joint bank accounts and moving in, the other sees this as control or a threat to their independence. As clash after clash develops, both partners inevitably start wondering, “Is this the person for me?”.
The Fix: If you feel your relationships might be taking the “Uncommon vision” detour, start talking. Relationships require clarity and openness to thrive. Start talking about where you see the relationship going and the possibilities that both excite and worry you. Make sure to take time to listen to your partner’s thoughts and ideas without judgment or criticism. Look for commonalities you can build on. Developing a common vision isn’t about planning the next 50 years in detail, it is about checking in to ensure you are both working on what is most meaningful to you both.
Few things can end a storybook love like a lack of communication. Not being able to share in a safe and open way leaves a void that can be easily filled with assumptions, interpretations, and accusations that can quickly halt your happily ever after. Communication does not only mean talking, it also means LISTENING. Being able to listen without interrupting, arguing, talking over, judging, etc. goes a long way to creating an environment where your partner can feel safe and willing to share.
The fix: Living with a non-talker? Instead of asking why they won’t share, consider exploring what might make them feel safer to do so. If you feel extra brave, ask them to share any behaviours you have that make them feel unsafe. Create rules around tough discussions such as no tough talks before bedtime or avoiding such talks when one or both of you are angry.
When we don’t know what we want from our relationships, it is hard to make them work. Not putting thought into our relationships is a lot like getting into a car with a stranger and just seeing where you end up. It might be someplace awesome, it might not.
Knowing what we expect from our relationships helps us to develop healthy boundaries and develop a common vision with our partners. It also keeps our subconscious from downloading our own unresolved personal issues into our relationships – creating further roadblocks.
The fix: Spend time writing what you need and want from a relationship. Take time to consider why each is important to you? What are you non-negotiable? How will you know when a relationship cannot meet your needs and what steps would you take to resolve such an issue?
While these obstacles can be hard on a relationship, they don’t have to be fatal. When both partners are committed to navigating the journey together, magical things can happen. Explore some of the fixed above and get a conversation started. Not every single aspect of your whirlwind romance needs to be laid out but understanding some of the basics can go a long way to making you and your beau the envy of Lovesville.
Bonnie J. Skinner, MEd, CCC, RP
B. Skinner Coaching & Psychotherapy