Great Relationships Take A Lot Of Work

By Linda & Charlie Bloom

Great relationships take a lot of work. You’ve got to do your own work if you want your marriage to work. If you don’t do the work, you won’t get the benefits. The idea that we have to work in order to create a worthwhile relationship has been around for quite a while and many of us, particularly relationship ‘experts’ and therapists have been affirming the idea for so long that we rarely question it’s veracity. But what exactly does working on your relationship really mean? Is it really true that the willingness to do “the work” is the critical factor in determining the quality of your relationships? And what exactly IS the work that relationships require anyway?

The idea of work is so embedded in our beliefs about relationships that we rarely, if ever, question these assumptions when we hear them in conversation or read them in self-help books. Might there be some benefit to taking a closer look at this notion? Perhaps. As my grandmother used to say, “it couldn’t hoit”.

One of the first things that we may notice when we begin to examine our beliefs about work and relationships is that we often aren’t exactly sure what the “work” of relationships really is, and consequently tend to default to our associations with the word “work” in our efforts to better understand the concept. When you think of “work”, if you are like most people the associations that you have are not likely to be especially thrilling or even particularly pleasant. The American Heritage Dictionary defines ‘work’ as “the exertion of physical or mental effort or activity directed toward the production of something.” Synonyms for work include labor, exertion, travail, drudgery, trouble, chore, and toil. “Toil” a word frequently associated with work means “to proceed to make one’s way with difficulty or pain. To labor continuously and strenuously.” Phew! Is it any wonder that most of us have a certain degree of resistance to the notion of embracing work as a path to anything?

So if you have any confusion or mixed feelings and thoughts about doing your relationship work, it’s with good reason, and you’re not alone.

Yet the desire for loving relationships and the pain of living without them can be strong enough motivators to provoke efforts on our part to confront our confusion, challenge the odds and overcome our resistance, persistent though it may be. The question however, still remains, what exactly IS this “work” that relationships require? In confronting this question it becomes obvious that paradoxically, doing “the work” often requires us to redirect our attention away from our relationship, and focus instead on ourselves, sometimes even to the extent of running the risk of losing the relationship itself. Barry and Maya found this out the hard way.

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3 replies
  1. Pat K.
    Pat K. says:

    Nothing worth having free. We have got to apply this to our marital relationships in the Black community. We'll work a job 'til we die, yet come home and neglect the mate God gave us to love, honor and cherish. Doin' what Mom & Dad did, has not benefitted us, folks! Unless we can develop good relationship skills, quality of life will continue to elude us. A good marriage is the most coveted relationship known to mankind! We must keep in mind that "charity starts at home"!

    • SmoovNut
      SmoovNut says:

      Totally agree. Many of us religiously work hard at the office to obtain respect & general acceptance, but do almost nothing at home to show respect, support in healthy ways, & to show how much we love one another. It's easier to seek validation at the office & at the clubs because it's easier to explain why wouldn't get those things in those places as well. At home, it's definitely more complicated, but needed a 1000x more & most people "assume" they're doing their "part" – which has not been the case.

      Some younger couples find it easier to discuss work (usually non-positive events) each evening instead of truly unwinding & being fun & flirty. It's easy to come home complaining each day. It takes a little effort "to leave work at the office" & just be home when you're home.

  2. Elaine
    Elaine says:

    I'm willing to put in the work but my man is afraid of hardwork. smdh

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