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Motivation Personal Boundaries Blog Self-Reflection
Niki Bergler  

Are Relationships That Difficult?

The phrase I hear most is “Relationships are difficult.”

But are they?

When you ask someone why relationships are hard, they begin to stutter because they have never put thought into a phrase so commonly used. Very few people think about what they are saying or why as they repeat what they have heard.

This question has plagued me for months now. Are relationships hard? Are Lance and I just lucky? Will our passion someday dwindle? (Maybe, if we let it.) Lance and I have been together for sixteen years, and while there were times more challenging than others, I never thought it was difficult.

I pondered what makes our relationship different. If you have read, She’s Done Pretending, you know I was not raised in an environment to be a scholar in healthy relationships. So why, after almost two decades, am I still elated to see my hubby walk through the door?

I meditated on whether it was possible my husband felt our relationship was difficult. I can not hide my heart dropped at the idea that I was naive. There was too much fear in questioning if my husband was happy or not. So, I did what anyone would do. I rushed into Lance’s room, recorder in hand, like a reporter about to interview. (He’s used to it.)

“What do you think is the hardest thing about being in a relationship?”

*A silent stare battle ensued. Was it a few minutes or hours before he spoke? I am unsure. *

“Obviously, when things are going good, relationships are easy. But anytime two people are together long enough, there’s going be times when you don’t agree with each other, and you’re going to be butting heads. The hardest part about that is not always trying to be the right one. Sometimes, you have to put aside some of your beliefs or interests in the best interest of the relationship and try to see the other person’s point of view.”

“So how do you deal with the result if it is something you don’t believe in? I mean, are there any dealbreakers?”

“There are the obvious ones, yes, but you have to understand that there’s going be challenging times and not let it get in the way of the bigger picture- which is your commitment to one another. You can’t just be like, “No, I don’t agree with you on that. I’m just going to hate you.”  Understand that everybody thinks differently. That’s why there’s so much hate in the world the way it is: people feel everybody has to think the same way. You see it on social media; it’s like they don’t agree with the way you think, then you’re just a *** *** ***. It’s an even bigger deal in a relationship because you’re with that person every day. And you’re probably with them because you have a lot in common and enjoy their company, but there will still be some disagreements. Be ready.”

Reflecting on how I approached our relationship over the years, I discovered a few points of interest.

Take what you will and leave the rest. I can only meet you where I am, and I am not suggesting this is a complete blueprint for happy relationships, but these have served me well. Also, I am curious about what you have found to benefit your relationship, so please comment below.

You can look at the menu and not order.

That’s a negative ghostwriter. Indulging in lustfully thinking of another is not only dangerous but also disrespectful to your partner. I am not saying you won’t notice another beautiful piece of sculpted art pass by, but where you let your mind go will impact your relationships. Think wisely.

It’s ok to joke at your partner’s expense.

Yeah, that is a pass for me. I will openly admit this is hard because it is so common, and I also grew up with it. But constantly joking about your partner’s shortcomings is distasteful. Lifting and encouraging your partner is your job. You are their number one. It’s you and them against the world. Don’t let anything come between that.

It’s ok to vent about your partner to friends.

I would challenge this by asking why you are venting. Are you releasing many of your struggles with a friend in the hopes of finding solutions, or are you adding to the problem? The more we complain about anything, the more it becomes us.

Also, I would dare to say if you are constantly complaining about your relationship, it is you I will begin to question. Why are you still with this person if they are so bad? How are you ok with tearing a person down for conversation? I will begin to question your judgment, as you are the one who chose to be with this person. Treat them better or let them go.  

Do not let other people dictate your relationship!

I often hear that if a man wants a woman to cook and clean, he is just a boy who wants his mommy. (Yet, if a woman gets waited on, she is a queen.) I love putting together fancy-looking meals and keeping my home clean. I enjoy making sure my husband is happy and loved. He deserves it; after all, he is my #1. Does that make me less of a woman? I don’t think so. It makes me more of a woman because I have a very masculine, independent energy, and I love that I can access my feminine, caring spirit.

You define your relationship—for example, Valentine’s Day. I do not celebrate it. I think spending $60 on roses is dumb. (To be clear, if that is what you want, it is NOT dumb. I do not have to like what you enjoy to appreciate how happy it makes you. I would cheerfully get you flowers if I knew it would make you joyful.) But people put value into seeing who can post the biggest bouquet on social media. Their conclusion is anyone who did not get flowers is not loved, and they couldn’t be more wrong.

You will not be perfect.

As a type A who strives for perfection (at least my interpretation of perfection), it is difficult to admit I messed up. But, indeed, I do often. Accept that you will make mistakes. You will say or do something that will hurt or disappoint your partner. DON’T brush it off. Acknowledge your mistake and apologize.

Respect your partner’s Boundaries.

When Lance and I first started dating, any time we disagreed, he needed space to think. He also did not want to say anything he would later regret. I REALLY struggled with this because I struggled to experience the uncomfortable emotions of arguing. My young self-experience was talking, leading to yelling, doors slamming, and eventually, the silent treatment.

I couldn’t handle it. I would press and demand we work it out, but I have learned the importance of allowing someone their space. Organizing your thoughts before speaking to someone you love carries more respect and peaceful discussions.

All men want is sex.

Not according to my clients. Most men just want to know they are providing well for their partners. They want words of affirmation.

I think, in many ways, it’s what we all want.

Many buy and buy, hoping it will satisfy our need to feel progress, but it’s unsatisfying shortly after achievement. We dred socially interacting yet felt happy we ventured out. We want to open up and connect with people, but our hearts are scarred.

“Don’t hurt me; I’ve been hurt too many times.”

(Why are you giving someone power over you?)

It’s not the other person you should trust; it’s yourself. You have to trust that you will see the red flags, know when it is time to move on and know if they are being dishonest. When Lance and I started dating, he was fishing a lot. (Shocker) So many of my friends routinely asked how I knew he was fishing and not with another woman. They told me to check his phone, follow him, yada, yada. If I had let their seeds of doubt get planted in my head, Lance and I wouldn’t be where we are today. My answer was always the same: No, I trust myself and him. (He had not given me a reason not to, and still, to this day, has not broken my trust.)

Our scars are indeed proof of our pain, but it is also proof that we can heal. Not everyone is meant to have a place in our hearts, but don’t be so afraid that you block everyone from trying.

A black and white image of the word love.

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"She's Done Pretending is a permission slip. It's a permission slip for readers to step out of their abuses, heartaches, and abandonments...and step into the light of a better life. Bergler's story, although difficult to read at times, shines a light on one woman's story of perseverance and triumph over unbelievable odds. She uses her story to show us, the readers, that there can be "life after internal death." Through graceful writing and a fiery spirit, Bergler inspires us to see that life is what you make of it." - Sarah Krosschell

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