Whenever people hear me advocating for investing in our marriages, whether it’s through my own work and courses or through another avenue, a resistance comes up. People say “We just are who we are,” or “A good relationship needs to come naturally.” I’ve shared in Facebook posts that I’ve gotten out a pen and paper in the middle of a disagreement, journaled, and done meditations about my marriage. I’ve done a lot of emotional laboring to change my own mindset and behaviors, thus transforming what’s happening between us. People have commented with remarks like, “If you had to do so much work to make your marriage work, then you shouldn’t have got married in the first place. You shouldn’t have had kids!” and “If marriage takes work then it means it’s the wrong person. You didn’t find your soul mate.”
I think these types of comments and approaches are so wrong! I’m so passionate about busting this myth. I don’t believe that good, healthy, solid, soul mate, peaceful partnerships and marriages come any more naturally than kind, compassionate, peaceful parenting does. I think for a lucky few who may have been wired that way genetically, or perhaps through nurture, it does come naturally. They’ve solidified those learned skills through life experiences or through their own parents modelling it. When I look around and observe what comes naturally to most people in their marriages and partnerships, what I see is nitpicking, teasing, conflict, and resentment that builds and builds throughout the years, as well as a growing sense of power struggle and disconnection. I’m also seeing some great things come naturally too, but I’m not seeing the level of connection, and the type of radically healing and energizing marriage that I would love to see coming easily to people!
The people I know with those types of marriages, worked hard for them. Maybe it was enjoyable work, but it was a big investment. They spent years refining their communication skills, better understanding themselves and their needs, learning how to meet many of those needs elsewhere, and getting to know their partner and their partner’s needs as well. They spent years refining who they were as people and as partners. They didn’t just stumble in to a happy marriage. At least I’ve yet to find a couple who did!
I believe that good, healthy relationships don’t currently come naturally to us – maybe in the next generation, or maybe in some cultures – but certainly not for those around me or for myself! I don’t apologize for that. I don’t think it makes my marriage, or our soul partnerships, any less lofty, aspirational or important. It just means it was something that had to be built, like many great things in life. That’s why I love to learn from some of the greatest minds and thinkers there are out there, all about how to make relationships work! I love to learn from them how to be a peaceful ninja, how to be incredible, how to master blissful family life. Esther Perel, Harville and Helen Hendrix, John Gottman, are a few of my teachers. These thinkers understand that we don’t just stumble in to a happy life-long committed partnership. We don’t just happen to be lucky or blessed with incredibly blissful family life! We create it.
Just like Rome was not built in a day, so too is your family’s blissful existence together. It’s not going to be built in a day. It’s something that we invest in consistently over time. If it’s important to you, if it’s your life project, if it’s something that you think is worthy of your time, energy, and money then you’ll go to the therapies and take the courses, do the journaling, do the free or paid for work that it wakes to get the results that you want in your relationship. I very much hope that you do the work with me, because I love teaching this stuff and learning alongside you. But it doesn’t matter if it’s through me or not, because what’s important to realize is that there’s no shame in healthy relationships not just coming naturally, and just falling into it. In fact, there’s immense pride in being someone who invests in it methodically, consistently, and substantially so that you can create that type of incredible foundation for your home, your marriage, and for your children’s future as well.
So for anyone who says it wasn’t meant to be and it should have come naturally to me, I say, #sorrynotsorry. I think there is too much shame and taboo around learning to be great in relationships, and around creating the ones we want. People are settling way too much for hum-drum boring, or for miserable and stressful relationships even. That doesn’t have to be! It’s your birthright to be creating the relationship that’s incredible for you, to build that. That’s absolutely within reach! It takes building, investment, energy, and focus – but it can be done. For those unicorns who had it naturally, good for them. But for the rest of us, we get to roll up our sleeves and make something phenomenal.
Share in the COMMENTS. What DO you want to build in your relationship? What are the relationship skills you must work on to get there?