The relationship gym (DW#973)

While we may instinctively understand the importance of good relationships, we sometimes fall for some rather destructive myths about relationships.
Here are two in particular:
  1. Relationships "should" work naturally and that if they don’t, there is something amiss. This misconception is often fueled by social media which would lead us to believe that all we must do is "find our soul mate" and "be with someone who will treat us like kings and queens" and the all the rest will automatically and magically fall into place.
  2. It is obvious what makes relationships healthy or happy. [In other words, I know what I am doing, and no book, course or expert can guide me otherwise]
Please do not fall for this nonsense.
Despite what Instagram, Hollywood/Bollywood [and sometimes your own ego] would have you believe, great relationships take awareness, intentionally, attention and effort.
Here is how highly regarded positive psychologists, Suzann Pileggi Pawelski and James Pawelski put it in their great book, Happy Together:
"We believe in the importance of working on our relationships just like we work on our bodies at the gym. Fitness doesn’t come magically; it’s the result of sustained effort. And this effort needs to be directed wisely. This is why we turn to trainers for advice. And any good trainer will tell you how important it is to develop good exercise habits that can make it easier to get to the gym and keep going on our routines. This is true of relationships, as well. Sustained efforts and habits are essential. And once we begin to see the fruits of our labor, and enjoy greater understanding and better interactions with our partners, we naturally become motivated to work even harder. Eventually, the hard work doesn’t seem to be so ‘hard’ or ‘work’ at all, but rather becomes natural and fun behavior we want to keep doing. To help us direct our efforts wisely in our ‘relationship gym,’ we will need to look to leading researchers in the field of positive psychology for their evidence-based advice".
What the Pawelskis are saying is [by the way, two positive psychologists and relationship experts married to each other – how cool is that?!]
  1. Being happy together is not effortless. It needs intention, attention and commitment and
  2. We need to be open to learning what relationship experts say because we may be behaving in ways which are counterproductive to our own relationship wellbeing.

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