This time of year is so hard on relationships.
You go into a shop and see romantic gifts everywhere. Romantic movies are playing on TV. You see what your happily-married friends have posted on Facebook, and you think…
My guy didn’t get me a bouquet of flowers like that.
My guy didn’t do anything special for me on Valentine’s Day.
My guy would rather watch sports or play video games than take me out to a nice restaurant.
You can’t help but wonder what kind of relationship you’ve settled for.
You’ve settled for someone who’s happy to be with you, but who isn’t going to make any effort.
Is that really love?
Look at your friends. They have husbands and partners who make an effort. You watch them together, and you can see the love and affection. They like each other. They enjoy being together.
What would it feel like to be in a relationship like that?
Are you with the wrong person?
The History of The “Good Enough” Relationship
We have such high expectations of relationships these days.
For most of human history, it was good enough if your partner was reasonably healthy, a strong worker, and could keep a roof over your head and food on the table.
But there came a point where we realized we wanted more.
We wanted someone who could fulfill our emotional needs, not just material ones.
We wanted someone who loved us. Cherished us. Believed in us.
We wanted someone who’d push us to become the best version of ourselves.
That shift, according to Dr. Eli Finkel of Northwestern University, happened in the 1960s. So historically speaking, it’s incredibly recent. The institution of marriage hasn’t adjusted to these new expectations yet—one reason that divorce rates have skyrocketed.
These days, couples don’t just divorce because he doesn’t provide or she doesn’t look after the house.
They divorce because the marriage itself no longer supports their growth as a person.
They don’t feel they can be their true selves anymore within the confines of this relationship with this person.
The Groundhog Day Relationship
That’s not to say that these relationships aren’t good by every other benchmark. Often, they’re perfectly adequate.
But it doesn’t feel like they’re going anywhere. Life isn’t getting bigger and better. It’s stuck in Groundhog Day. The same routines, the same tired “I love you’s.”
That feels like settling, when we’ve been told we can have it all.
We’ve been told we deserve a partner who loves, supports, and inspires us to grow and change and thrive.
This guy? Well, he tries, but personal growth just isn’t his forte.
Now, that’s not the deal-breaker it might seem.
There are 3 ways you can still make this relationship work for you—if you think there’s something worth keeping.
If this guy treats you well, genuinely loves you, is on your team, and wants similar things for the future, then don’t give up on what you have together. Try these 3 strategies first.
Invest more time together.
You know two most of the most surprising relationship killers? Stress and being busy.
When we’re stressed and busy, our relationships suffer. We don’t have time to spend together. And when we are together, the stress means we get irritated easily and snipe at one another.
Your relationship cannot grow unless you invest time in it.
Do you schedule relationship time every week? Time where you’re not multitasking and trying to get chores done at the same time? Time where you’re not sitting side by side on your phones, but actually interacting?
Too many long-term couples find that they prefer anything other than spending one-on-one time together. The less time they spend with each other, the less time they want to spend.
Don’t let that happen to you.
Spend time together. Every single week. Doing something fun. Making memories. If you need help with ideas, check out the Gottmans’ latest book Eight Dates.
Expand your social network.
It’s unfair to expect one person to be everything: your best friend, your motivational speaker, your career coach, your entertainment provider. 😉
Your guy is just a guy. He has his strengths, and he has his weaknesses.
Instead of judging him for his weaknesses, why not see if you can find other people who can support you in the ways he can’t?
Find friends who can talk about problems at work all day. Find friends who can talk obsessively about your favorite hobby. Find friends who make you feel better when you feel bad.
Then lean on him in the areas where he’s strong.
Focus on YOUR relationship—not other people’s.
We are stuck in constant comparison where relationships are concerned.
We see happy relationships every time we look at the screen. Marketing uses our desire for love to convince us that what we have isn’t good enough. They’re trying to sell products by making us believe we’re purchasing happiness.
Don’t do that to yourself.
You don’t know what anyone’s life is like behind closed doors.
That couple with the incredible photos of their vacations and romantic meals and picture-perfect family may yell at each other when the camera is put away. He might be cheating. She might feel like he has all the power in the relationship. You just don’t know.
As long as your relationship makes you feel safe, supported, and loved, then it IS good enough.
It’s not about how it looks to other people. It’s about how it feels to you.