When NASA launches a spacecraft, it uses about 90% of its fuel to free itself from the Earth’s atmosphere. Once it has removed the gravitational pull, it needs considerably less fuel, allowing it to travel great distances while spending far less energy. This principle also applies to relationships: the first steps are those where real work begins. It includes listening carefully, not to be a control freak, practicing vulnerability, overcoming your fears, being honest, even in the face of fear and focusing on your own work rather than trying to change your partner. As with mastering any other new skill, it takes a long time to hang on to it and cope with difficult times. The effort required is often considerable and the challenge can be daunting, leading many people to conclude that it is not worth it or that they lack the stamina and persistence to work indefinitely on its level.
Love Requires Effort
An effortless relationship is not an excellent relationship; it’s a doomed relationship. It takes an effort to understand and communicate with each other. Love takes work to expose and resolve the conflict between beliefs and expectations. But, this does not mean that there is no “happiness forever” between two.
It’s more like “they worked happily forever”.
We think that if the feeling is there, then the relationship should just “naturally” thrive. But while this may be natural, most of us have developed fairly unskillful practices in our attempts to meet needs that were not met in our relationship. Yet while loving another is not enough on its own to ensure a happy future together, we do have the ability to participate in our relationships in a way that greatly influences the degree of prosperity they will have. The time we spend in the early stages of this process and the steepness of the learning curve have to do with our willingness and ability to learn the lessons that relationships continually provide us. These lessons focus on honesty, non-judgment, responsibility, commitment, compassion and risk for beginners. The more we focus on mastering these learning opportunities, the faster we will internalize the skills and competencies necessary for good relationships.
As we integrate these capabilities, replacing old defensive habits with new, more effective ones, work becomes easier and more natural. We automatically start doing the things that work and we give up the regular responses that no longer serve us. Although it takes time and the process is gradual, if you can stick with it, the result is not only worth the effort, but it exceeds what most of us thought possible.