Let's be honest we can hardly throw a stone without it hitting a book, article or well-intended discussion on what a healthy relationship looks like. It's a wonder any of us, even coaches like myself can navigate the tricky waters of relationships with so much conflicting insight that may or may not resonate. As someone who has had her fair share of relational ups and downs and who turned this experience into my purpose: helping others to build realistic, passionate and delicious relationships which meet our needs not just in the moment but the long term. Doing this requires that we bust a few myths surrounding relationships. While we all would love to live within the annuls of a Hollywood rom-com the fact is relationships are a decidedly more "real-world" feel to them. And when we embrace this feel we find that nothing contrived upon the screen can come close to the real McCoy.
Let’s get started, shall we?
Myth: We love our partner every day, without effort.
Truth: Nope, not even close. Some days it’s all we can do to stop ourselves from packing a bag and hitting the road with our middle finger dangling out the window as we gun it down the driveway. The fact is some days the love hides. Some days we know rationally we love this person but yet it’s hard to emote it. Love is not a feeling so much as a state of mind and like any state of mind, it’s a choice. We all must choose to draw upon that love which exists between us and our partner. We all must actively choose to see what is loveable in them just as we have the sacred choice to see what is loveable within ourselves.
Myth: Love is all candlelit dinners, romantic strolls down the beach and staring, lovingly into our partner’s eyes.
Truth: In truth sometimes it’s changing dirty diapers after they’ve already tackled the first five of the day, or maybe that is just how we show love in my relationship but my point is that it’s not always pretty—sometimes love can be a bit ugly, and in that ugliness we unearth the beauty.
Sometimes, it’s doing the things we would rather not do in order to lend a hand; other times, it’s leaning into moments that feel uncomfortable. It might look like not hugging until 9 p.m. after a long day of work and a drive home from hell, or scheduling time together because it’s so important. It may be understanding that romance may not be on the menu every single day.
Relationships are not always filled with grand gestures. Between the romantic dinners and the declarations of undying love are the booty pats when you pass each other in the kitchen. It’s the quick kiss as you make the kids dinner plates together. It’s being supported when you face a challenge in life and feeling their presence behind you. When we fail to see the smaller (yet equally, if not more so, important) acts of love we leave room for festering and resentment.
Myth: Without unending passion, our relationship is doomed.
Truth: Passion waxes and wanes and it must be nurtured. The real meat and potatoes, the foundation upon which a strong and steady relationship rises, stems from the friendship and intimacy that extends far beyond the bedroom. This friendship and intimate connection is the support that holds the relationship together in the fray. It’s the ups and downs of life that we share and the friendship between us that keeps us coming back for more.
This intimate container fuels individual and joint growth; it holds the deep belly laughs shared over a joke only you two get. It’s the excitement to share something from your day because you know they will understand your take.
This connection will hold us when life knocks us on our ass and we can hardly breathe. It is through this unyielding intimate friendship that we share the deepest and fiercest of passion.
Myth: Our partner completes us.
Truth: Let’s call the “you complete me” perspective what it is—dependence. And dependency kills even the strongest love. When we approach relationships with the expectation that our partner will fill a void or make us whole, we move away from connection and towards fracture. We are responsible for our own happiness and a relationship should be an addition to an already whole and healed self—not something that we expect to make us whole.
Relationships are not perfect. We are not always on top; sometimes it’s when we are down deep in the valleys when the true love and strength of our bond together reveals itself. We will not always get along, do everything together or be led out of our door to a brand new car with a bow atop. This is not a commercial but real life. Relationships are working together, holding space for honesty and yes, even complaining. It’s witnessing each other in our moments of honesty and vulnerability.
It’s working together to build something happy and sustaining. It’s compromise, truth, and sharing. It’s gritty, raw and potent when fully unmasked.
In this form, it’s something to marvel at with hearts humbled and grateful.