Lately I have seen a number of folks go public in varying degrees with their marriage/ long term relationship issues. Whether or not the world wide web is the place for that kind of thing is another topic for another day, but the one common thread is how much work they are putting into repairing/ saving/ improving their marriage/marriage adjacent relationships. Perhaps because of this, I seem to be seeing more articles online about how to work on your marriage as well. And they baffle me.
I take my wedding vows seriously and I fully intend to be with my husband for the rest of our lives. I know he feels the same way. I also can say, with full confidence, that neither of us have “worked on” the relationship one day in the 11+ years we have been married.
Does this mean we have neglected each other or are unhappy? Not at all. We have a rock solid, very happy marriage built on love, respect and trust. We do nice things for each other. We compliment and encourage each other. We include each other in the joys and sorrows of daily life. We keep each other’s secrets. Simply put, we do all of the things that some people call “working on their marriage”, but it’s not work. It’s just what we do naturally out of our love and respect for each other. It’s what people in healthy relationships do without even thinking.
Certainly there are ebbs and flows in every relationship. There are times where, for one reason or another, you might not feel as connected to your partner for a while. That’s perfectly natural. There will be things you disagree with your partner on and sometimes you will fight about those things. Also perfectly normal. But if you need a checklist to remind you to tell your partner you love them, or to listen when they speak, it’s time for a long look in the mirror.
No, I’m not saying that you should throw in the towel if you aren’t two peas in a cooing pod every day. What you expect and need from your relationship is something only you and your partner know. And yes, I do take marriage vows very seriously!! But good relationships aren’t a chore or a never-ending project. They don’t feel like a duty or obligation. I’ve been in relationships like that and there is a reason they all ended poorly!! Simply put, if your basic needs aren’t getting met and you aren’t being loved unconditionally, I have to wonder why you are still with that person. And you should be asking yourself that same question.