Here’s the reality when it comes to relationships– sometimes they don’t last very long.
It can be all rainbows and sunshine until someone in the relationship comes to the realization that they can’t do it anymore. Or that it’s simply no longer worth it.
But that’s the thing: When does a relationship become no longer worth it? Who decides what a relationship is worth? The feelings will go away eventually, and when hard times hit, what separates those who last, and those who don’t?
It goes back to one very basic question: What’s more important to you?
It’s like exercise. Or living healthy. Or raising kids. Or getting an education. Or anything in life that is difficult, but worthwhile. Even if waking up early isn’t exactly my favorite thing in the world, being on time at work is more important to me than succumbing to my sixth snooze, and that’s what wakes me up. Similarly, a health buff might hate jogging. Absolutely abhor it. But it’s more important for that person to feel physically active and live a healthy lifestyle than to feel the comfort of succumbing to excuses.
You might disagree with her. You might hate how he doesn’t change. She might be too crazy. He might be too insensitive. But here’s the key:
At the end of the day, what’s most important to you?
When the relationship takes on a whole new level of difficulty through changing seasons, it’s not the feelings that will hold two people together, but the shared sense of what’s more important. This is how a relationship adapts to challenging times. When the going gets tough, the decision and will to work through any hardship always comes from a place of knowing what’s more important.
Three things to remember in order to make full use of this little detail about relationships:
- Honesty is key: In a healthy relationship, both parties take the time to acknowledge what their decisions say about what’s important to them. A person who values being right more than being kind will make a different set of decisions over another whose values are the other way around, and the ability to see where our decisions are unwise and unhealthy for the relationship is the first step towards making it work in the long run.
- Discipline is necessary: Knowing what’s important in the relationship is not enough; it takes a certain level of discipline to set aside the unnecessary in favor of what’s more important. Individuals who are in it for the long haul recognize the need to work on their natural, selfish impulses by keeping in mind why they’re making the hard decisions. For instance, it’s hard not to be mad when he’s being annoyingly grumpy, but I won’t take his temporary complaints to heart too seriously. I can make the decision to overlook his offenses, because I know it’s more important for me to be patient and understanding during the long wait for our pizza.
- Security should not be on the line: Finally, when you already know who you are and what you stand for, with or without your significant other, it’s easier not to lose yourself by putting the weight of all that you are on the relationship. Relationships break under the pressure of creating identities. But, as a wise TV character once said, “…when you really know who you are and what you like about yourself, changing for other people isn’t such a big deal.” (Many thanks to the character Abed Nadir of Community for this.)
With all this talk about how our decisions are based on what’s important to us, and in light of love being a decision (the implied message of this whole post), I guess love is simply this: giving priority importance to someone for no other reason than that person’s existence. Perhaps love, the lasting kind, is the simplest glimpse of the true value of a human being, as seen by another. And, despite all these statistics about love being temporary, love being timeless is still the oldest story in the book.
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