When we first meet that special someone, it’s remarkable how firmly those rose tinted goggles stick to our eyes. We quickly become infatuated with our new significant other. Everything they say and do seems to sparkle with charm and our adoration colors everything about them. The good things are very good, and the bad things are shrugged off as their personal quirks. Those early days of your relationship are a powerful narcotic. That glowly feeling you get when you see or think about them never subsides and that spark between you never dims. Love has a very particular effect on our brain chemistry and it can entrance us and lull us into a belief that your relationship will remain forever perfect. By all means you should enjoy this feeling, and while I’m certainly not saying that it won’t last, what is inevitable is that the dynamic of your relationship will change over time. There isn’t a specific cutoff point after which your relationship will slide into a cycle of mutual resentment and irritation (There may be a biological basis for the “seven year itch” but it’s by no means an inevitability. The “honeymoon period” in which everything about your partner is so intoxicatingly wonderful you spend your every waking moment thinking of them may be finite, but every relationship has the power to go the distance.

The test of your relationship will come not with the good times but the bad. Anyone can maintain a relationship that’s going well. Sticking with and working through a relationship that’s going through a rough patch shows character and determination. A relationship is a wonderful thing, and when you’ve found the right person you should absolutely fight to keep them. But relationships can be made to turn ugly, either by external influences or simply the ways in which both parties change as people

Do we commodify our relationships?

There was a time when if something broke, we’d repair it ourselves or defer to an expert who could fix it for us. Today, however, we have a much more disposable mentality, and this is in danger of bleeding into how we look at our relationships. Sure, there are plenty more fish in the sea, but throwing out a perfectly good relationship simply because your partner doesn’t tick every single box on your wishlist. There was a time when we used objects and loved people, but as we become increasingly reliant on technology and digital connectivity to bring us happiness, we mustn’t neglect how important and precious our interpersonal relationships are. We should recognize and embrace our own imperfection and that of our partners if we’re to develop a healthy attitude to our relationships. We should endeavor not to be too picky when dating and certainly try not to “fix” our partners by trying to make them into someone they’re not.  

Money

Money can be an enormous sticking point in relationships. Whether it’s having too little, making the most of what you have or even having too much, it is among the most common toxins a relationship faces. Couples can keep financial secrets from one another, find themselves arguing over the household budget, they can be envious of one another’s financial assets, find themselves adopting a competitive attitude over income or come to loggerheads over what is theirs as individuals and as a couple. Money matters can also serve as a catalyst to bring up other issues in the relationship. Find time to discuss money matters in a neutral way. Stick to the facts and work together to find the best financial outcome for the household. Money comes and goes, but your relationship needs to outlast any $10 in your purse.

Parenting

Parenting is a wonderful experience, but it can also put an awful lot of pressure on relationships. You may disagree over how best to raise your child. Your different upbringings may cause you to develop very different expectations of parenthood. Moreover, you will likely be more tired and stressed and we’re rarely at our best under these circumstances. Statistics show that divorce rates do increase after having children. That said, your child is also a living manifestation of your love for one another. What better incentive to stay together than to show a positive example for relationships that helps to influence the way in which they perceive their own relationships in adulthood. While nobody’s suggesting that anyone stay in a bad relationship for the sake of the kids (not only can it lead to a lot of unhappy parents, studies show that it doesn’t do the kids any favors either), you owe it to your family to do everything you can to keep your relationship alive and well as it changes and evolves with your life and circumstances.

Separation

A separation isn’t necessarily the end of a relationship. It’s a profound change. If a couple decides that they no longer love one another or something happens to dissolve the relationship, it’s possible (and in some cases necessary) for couples to continue to working on their relationship wither as friends or at least as two people who can share a room. This is especially important if kids are involved. While you will need to contact Barton Wood or a family lawyer near you to sort out the legalities and the logistics of separation are always tough even on the most amicable splits, you will both benefit from staying civil in this difficult time. Nobody benefits from descending into anger and bitterness.

If you have kids, it’s vital that you work collaboratively with your ex, regardless of the circumstances of your separation. You need to work together to give the child you made the quality of life they deserve. Avoid bad mouthing your ex to them or trying to sway your child against them (however tempting it may be if they have wronged you). Whether you like it or not, as long as you’re raising a child together, you will continue to have a relationship with your ex. It may not be romantic or sexual anymore, but it still needs to be just as carefully maintained.

All relationships face tough times, but your ability to navigate them together will test the strength of your relationship and lead you to long term happiness.


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