do relationships have to be hard?

I didn't have a relationship last past about 6 months until I was around 20. Lots of on & off, not-at-all serious flings that would go on for, at most, a semester. All were only tumultuous and unhealthy {you can pretty much go ahead and grab on to those two words as a common theme for my dating life before J. Hence the Ronnie & Sammie duking it out picture here.} Every relationship I was ever a part of was hard. Lots of fighting, insecurity, & confusion. Communicating was a very foreign concept to me. People calmly and lovingly talk about their problems? Huh? I had never known anything like this. Although to be fair, until my sophomore year of college I really didn't have a whole lot of relationship experience anyway. That was when my first serious relationship started {don't forget to hold on to those two words I gave you before}. Two years is a long time. Definitely long enough to solidify some unhealthy parts of a relationship as truths. Let me just share some of the lies I learned:

•Every conversation about something difficult will turn into an argument.
•Sometimes, you just have to duke it out in public.
•"Good days" {i.e. a day without arguments or tears} are going to be the exception rather than the norm.
•It's better to just not talk about it, because you're tired of fighting.
•It's normal to feel disregarded & unimportant to your partner most the time.

Ugh, right? But let's be honest, there are a lot of people out there that, albeit some unknowingly, 100% believe these relationship lies. Lies that all fall under the big umbrella lie that relationships are hard. I mean, yes-you're going to have hard moments, no one's perfect. And they may be hard moments that last months. But they should still be the exception. After dating only two years, you shouldn't be fighting almost every day. You shouldn't be breaking up every time either one of you has any alcohol in their system. And in the end, you shouldn't feel like you barely know one another anymore.Really, it should never be like that. Why do we just accept that this is how things are going to be? Is it because we take our relationship cues from media and movies rather than loving marriages and Biblical example? Is it because we've been together so long, we're terrified of having to start over? Or because we're so selfish, we can't see that we're slowly suffocating the person we're with?

Relationships turn in to this hell hole because we take Jesus out of them. I can remember once, in my last relationship, walking down the street-in the middle of a huge argument, stopping in my tracks and realizing I couldn't breathe. Literally and figuratively. The combination of the misery from being in this toxic relationship and the sudden realization that I had totally distanced myself from God literally took the air straight out of my lungs. Why are we living like this? Because it was all we knew. We were holding on to something just for the sake of holding on to it. He'd checked out emotionally, and I'd allowed myself to be completely consumed by this relationship that he didn't even want to be a part of anymore. It shouldn't be like that. One of us should have been adult enough to recognize that we were killing each other and simply walk away. Sometimes it's just not going to work out. Sometimes you're just terrible for one another. But one thing rings true, it doesn't have to be that difficult.

Thing is, when it comes to relationships sucking, it takes two to tango. And the second you start placing all the blame on your partner, you've lost all ability to regain any semblance of order. And that's what we did. We each blamed the other. And while there was blame to be had by both parties, we would never recover from that. Hard was all I knew. Fighting was all I knew. Come to find out, you can walk out of a relationship like that with some serious baggage The kind that makes you afraid to talk about the way you feel about things because you're used to it turning into WWIII. You walk out believing that you're difficult, hard to handle, incapable of being led, because I mean...that's what the last guy called you. Most of all, you come away sure that the next relationship will be just as difficult, because "that's just the way things are". But, thank Jesus, they're not. It's kind of ironic, the thing that ended up giving me the strength to walk away was spending a minimal amount of time around a relationship that was the opposite of mine in every way. Watching two people, the same age, same amount of time together, interact so lovingly and Christ-like was one of the biggest wake up calls of my life. Seeing him respect her and shower her with affection, watching her light up when he spoke to her and serve him out of love-my relationship was done for. That was the moment that gave me hope. I have no doubt that God placed them in my life at the moment He did so that He could sweetly whisper "see? i have so much more for you".

It doesn't have to be hard. It should be a part of your life that fills you with joy, learning how to do life with this person you love. Times of trial and difficultly are inevitable, but they shouldn't leave you broken. Because real love is patient, and kind, and never ends.


Elizabeth said...

Props for the Ronnie and Sammi picture.

I completely agree with you. I feel like the media has taught us that if we're not fighting, we're not passionate, and therefore we're not in love. I even grew up in a family that treated strife and drama as necessary parts of everyday life and productivity, and I'm happy to say that I don't allow that spirit in my home now. It took 400 miles, but I finally know what it means to actively keep peace, harmony, and calmness in my own home and in my relationship.

Anonymous said...

Blake, you do not know how much the Lord just used you in my life. Your description of your last relationship is so very similar to my last as well. And I can honestly say that the one I'm in now is so different, but I have still been letting these lies affect my current relationship. There haven't been the fights and the yelling and the emotional disconnect, but it's like I still can't open myself up completely because I keep waiting for them to come. But they don't have to. I have found a man who loves me in the most incredible way I've ever seen, with such grace and such care even when I feel so unworthy of that love, and the times we argue are the times I won't talk about how I feel, because I've been expecting this relationship to be just as difficult as the last.

Blake said...

I really wish I knew who that last comment was from! Email me!