“Relationships are hard work.”
I hear this a lot. And I think it’s kinda confusing.
Many things are hard work. Sometimes it’s hard work to drag myself out of bed when it’s really early. Or to figure out how to fix a laptop when it’s broken. There’s a good amount of work involved in completing a marathon. Or confronting someone when you’re upset with them. Or asking for a raise. Or building the Golden Gate Bridge.
I guess what I’m saying is that hard work is hard to define.
What constitutes hard work? What amount of work does it take… to build a relationship? Or to build an actual ship? To build the pyramids of Giza?
There’s a lot of different degrees of hard work. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and I’ve come up with a theory. I think it’s possible you’re working too hard in your relationship.
Relationships definitely take work. Most things that need to be built take some form of work. But there’s work that fits well with you and is flowing from a place of natural strength, and there’s work that doesn’t quite fit- the work of getting that octagonal peg in that frustrating triangular hole.
Let me explain. Think of the worst possible career you can imagine having. I asked a few people this question, and got some funny answers…I heard everything from embalmer to physics teacher to construction worker. One person even said ‘heart surgeon.’ Now, heart surgeon is a pretty complex and difficult career, and I can’t imagine doing it. It wouldn’t be exciting for me to have someone’s life in my hands like that on most days. I don’t think I’d be very good at being a surgeon because I’d be too anxious. I would dread going into work every day. I’d be downright afraid.
Now, if someone put a gun to my head and said “You HAVE to be a heart surgeon for the rest of your life or I’ll KILL you and everyone you know!!” I’d make the best of it. I’d work hard to make myself into the best doctor I could be. And it would be really, really hard.
However, there are people who very much LIKE being heart surgeons. It’s a competitive field! Those doctors go into the hospital everyday and are happy to work at their chosen career.
And get this- the heart surgeons who love being heart surgeons still have to do WORK….they can’t come into the hospital and go to sleep. They can’t eat Doritos in the corner after opening up a patient’s chest cavity. They can’t say “Eh, I don’t feel like it today. No surgery for you. I’m gonna go watch the Yankee game instead.”
There’s still hard work involved for a happy heart surgeon! But the work’s much easier because it goes with who the surgeon is and the career that fits with his or her personality.
Now, that same happy heart surgeon might feel like they’d have to do a ton more hard work if they were forced into a career as a model.
Do you see what I mean?
So, although it’s totally possible that you’re not doing enough work in the relationship that’s actually the right one for you (are you the happy heart surgeon eating Doritos in the corner while someone’s heart suffers?) it’s also possible that you’re doing way too much work (are you a physics teacher working your darndest to have a career as an embalmer?) Haha, okay, that’s weird, but you get the point.
Perhaps you’re following the good advice that relationships are hard work and so you’re working hard. But are you working too hard on the wrong thing?
It’s not an easy question.