BLOG: Relationships don’t take a lot of work!
Relationships don’t take a lot of work…they just need attention!
Most people believe that in order to make a relationship strong and healthy it requires a lot of work. We challenge that concept and feel instead that relationships require ongoing attention. If we don’t give it our attention, it will work on us. The more attention we give the easier the process and the less it will feel like it is work.
So many examples of this show up in our work with couples. After a significant time together, kids or work replace the focus that was once the partner. So the partner feels neglected and starts to find the attention of a co-worker or colleague appealing. This sometimes leads to an affair. Or the lack of attention leads to resentment that shows up as bickering, or displaced power struggles in other areas of the relationship. Or maybe each gradually find comfort in other parts of the house doing hobbies, or pursuing other interests, within the home, or outside. But sooner or later, something happens and now we are forced to paying attention.
Is it that we take our loved one for granted, assuming they will always be with us and so we tend to spend less time and attention on them? Or maybe it is much more than this….
What if it is more the case that the relationship becomes more important to us over time and we are just not up the challenge of taking as many risks as we once did? Our relationships become more significant to us as our commitments get deeper and more expansive, (a house, kids, financial security for the future, etc.)
What if we are just not willing to take as many new steps to further our understanding of our partner? It feels safer to get into routines that work instead of continuing to explore new possibilities that each partner might find exciting and challenging.
Human beings, like all species, protect against potential threats.
When relationships become important to us we tend to get protective of this investment. Instead of continuing to grow and change, we unconsciously carve out a comfort zone. This comfort zone is maintained based on our skill level and shared experiences together.
To most couples, it is more appealing to avoid unnecessary conflict and crisis, and rest on reliable routines that have predictable outcomes. There are however, some people who grow up in relationships where conflict or crisis is the norm and they tend to keep things stirred up. The common denominator in both scenarios is that the couple re-create what was familiar in their families or they tend to do the opposite.
The hidden truth behind all of this is that then fear is dictating what we will, or will not do.
Instead of expanding our growth, we inhibit our growth and go with the skill level that we already know and trust. We tend to shy away from doing things that are new and different because we don’t trust our ability to navigate the new territory successfully.
So, we stay in our comfort zone. The most important thing to understand is that there is no growth in the comfort zone. After awhile people can become bored or disinterested staying in this zone. And quite frankly, things can start becoming a bit uncomfortable even in the once familiar comfort zone when one partner wants more and begins to challenge the rules.
“If it ain’t broken, break it.”
Now what if we were to look at this issue from another perspective. A perspective that is predicated on “If it ain’t broken, break it.”
If the rules of living in the comfort zone (CZ) are producing stagnant results, and we were to challenge the parameters of what is possible, what else could we create in a committed relationship? Perhaps, we could create something amazing and expansive.
Are you in a CZ in your relationship? Perhaps the intimacy has died down and you’ve accepted it. Perhaps you want more adventure instead of watching movies every Saturday night. Examine some of your routines and ask yourself if it’s time to make some changes.
If you answer YES, what is one thing you can do that takes you out of the CZ? This can be a small change and in fact at first, this works best. Taking small steps towards “breaking the CZ rules” can have you and your partner on a whole new and thrilling trajectory.
Congrats on giving more attention to your relationship…it doesn’t have to be work after all, just a willingness to shake things up a bit and take things out of the CZ!
P.S. If you would like more support in applying these principles, give us a call. In between our speaking and coaching engagements, we carve out a few individualized sessions each month. Schedule your appointment here.