What’s Love Got to Do with It?
Ok, I confess- I have a fondness for podcasts. After years of resisting peer pressure, I have given into technology and built a library of podcasts (check the website for what I’m currently listening to!). I’m a self-help, self-diagnosing, tell-me-why-I-do-that-thing-I-do? type of nerd. My podcasts feed my analytical side, which is constantly curious and always mulling over why we behave the way we do. More specifically, why do we behave in our intimate relationships in the way that we do?
A recent podcast has me thinking about the old song lyrics,
what’s love got to do with it???
Well, Everything. Right??
Couples come to me and ask me to help them learn to communicate better. They are tired of arguing about who needs to fold the laundry or how to properly load the dishwasher. They want me to tell their partner to stop leaving dirty breakfast dishes in the bathroom or eating the last potato chip and putting the bag back in the pantry. Sound familiar?
Society sends us the message that marriage (or being in a committed relationship) is all about shiny, sparkly, happy days with nary a cross word or discontent in sight. Cue the rainbows and unicorns!!
Society is right… and wrong.
Committed relationships feed our soul. They fill our emotional buckets to overflowing and leave us giggling with goofy grins and generally making fools of ourselves without a care in the world.
But these relationships aren’t just an emotional investment- they are like a career investment.
Yes, marriage and committed relationships have a business side.
Success in a relationship takes the same committed effort that success in your career takes.
Let’s think about that for a moment.
To start a career, you think about your interests, talents, abilities, background. You prepare for an employer to ask, “What do you bring to the table?”. A relationship starts the same way. You think about who your ideal person would be. You create a list of ideals and a list of deal breakers. In other words, you define what your right person brings to the table and what you have to offer in return.
For a new job, you interview. For a new relationship, you date. If all goes well you accept the job, either joining a new company or a committed relationship.
After the excitement of a new beginning wears off and routine days become the norm, fulfilling the constant expectations of the new boss and the new job begin to feel similar to fulfilling the constant spoken and/or unspoken expectations of your new partner. Navigating these expectations requires a skill set.
Yes, true- navigating these expectations requires a skill set.
Therein lies the problem.
It’s normal to prepare ourselves for a chosen career through education, practice, internships, etc. We want to survive in the work world, so we prepare ourselves for it with skills and knowledge to strengthen our chances for success. Makes perfect sense. Yet we don’t prepare ourselves for a committed relationship in the same way.
We think just being in love is enough.
And it is…
And it isn’t…
Being in love keeps you showing up. It’s the reason you keep fighting. It’s the force that’s trying to keep you emotionally connected in the unromantic moments of dirty dishes and cleaning bathrooms and piles of dirty laundry. Yet the emotional bond of love doesn’t automatically equip us with the communication skills we need to express our wants and needs in ways that help us reach our relationship goal of staying together and surviving together for a lifetime. Those skills come from the same intentional learning and preparation we tap into to learn what we need to know to build a career.
Falling in love is the easy part. Staying in love is harder. It takes work. Long term relationship success requires the intentionality of learning the skills needed for this job and a commitment to not hit the snooze button. It’s a commitment to show up every day in a way that helps the relationship move forward to its long term goal.
So, what does love got to do with it?
Love ignites the passion and desire to take the chance on a new opportunity. Love allows us to soften, be vulnerable, and become ok with the idea of being a novice. Getting comfy with the idea that learning through therapy/workshops/groups are really all about being committed to fostering the best relationship possible. And maybe- just maybe- we can even feel a bit proud of ourselves for having the courage to show up and do the work that shows our partner the love and commitment we feel.
Ready to work? Let me know you would like to schedule a time to talk! In the meantime, check out the workshops and what I am reading and listening to!
Embrace your best self! Anne