You have probably heard the saying: “marriage takes work” or “every relationship needs watering.” I agree with both, but my thought/question was always, “I understand a relationship takes work, but when is it too much work?” No one continues the saying by telling you quantity-wise or scenario-wise what too little or too much work looks like… they just leave you knowing it takes work, which of course doesn’t sound glamorous. So naturally (because I am a hard worker), I found myself working way too hard in relationships and friendships that were not meant to be. If there was a conflict I had in a relationship, I would exhaust all options to find a solution. In friendships, I would continue to spend time with someone who wasn’t opening up in hopes that one day she would. Eventually, since change wouldn’t occur in the other person, I would look at myself and try to change something. I never wanted to walk away thinking it was all their fault. The truth was, I was working too hard to make something work that from the beginning, lacked chemistry, depth, and commitment from the other person. As I was talking to Daniel about this last night, he determined that there’s two different types of work in a relationship: productive and unproductive. I looked at him and thought he was a genius! For us, productive work in a relationship means we are spending quality time together, providing honest feedback to encourage each other’s growth, resolving conflicts respectfully and openly, agreeing to disagree on topics, and always looking for ways to further develop our marriage. We’re watering a foundation that’s already strong with love, respect, and commitment. On the contrary, unproductive work is when we’re running around in a circle trying to resolve a conflict, one person repeatedly has the issues, one person is putting forth all the effort, and there is no growth in the relationship. That’s like trying to patch something together that has too many cracks. Unfortunately, the relationship I was in previous to Daniel suffered from the latter work approach. My stay in that relationship continued for too long because I thought working hard for love was the norm. Boy was I wrong. Now I realize the difference because with Daniel, it takes work, but not too much work since our relationship is naturally a good fit. Your heart can discern that for you.
When have you discovered the same conclusion? Are you in a relationship where you feel like it is too much work and need encouragement?