How could relationships possibly be easy?
Love isn’t easy.
Take two people with completely different lives (differences in culture, upbringing, past relationships, family influences, life experiences and values…the list goes on) and mush them together.
What’s going to happen, in my humble experience, is a lot of weeding, a little watering and the irreversible stain of mud on our fingers. Hopefully, the result is harvesting some of the good stuff: the kind of steady and fierce love we get after the butterflies have flown.
Sometimes though, their plants take over ours and we feel a bit strangled. Sometimes one of our plants is actually pretty toxic and kills off a huge patch of the garden, requiring a pretty hefty garden rescue. Or, we might forget a plant and it withers. The rough patches a couple can run into are numerous.
I am definitely not an expert—hell, I still find myself trying to weed myself rough patches. But, as an editor at elephant journal, I have had the privilege (and by privilege, I mean the absolutely light-my-soul-up honor) of reading many of the expert words that pass through this little mindful journal. I am one lucky lady.
And so, while it’s in my own best interest not to go air my dirty laundry for all of the world to see, what I can do is pass on a few gems that I think have been extra helpful in my own journey.
I’m going to focus on the indie articles, the ones that haven’t reached so many pairs of eyes, because we’ve already read and loved (a million times) the ones who have grown the largest flowers…and it’s time to shine a light on some of these lesser-known blooms of wisdom.
Here they are:
Why it’s a must read: When you get to the end, you’ll read the poem over again with new eyes. I was inspired, after reading, to write my own version of “us.” By the time I finished, I had revisited two dozen things (I had since forgotten) that made me fall in love with him in the first place.
Why it’s a must read: I’ve actually tried a few of these suggestions and found they helped a great deal. It’s so easy to pooh-pooh what feels like predictable, stale suggestions, especially when we’ve had consecutively on-edge and unhappy days. However, when we pulled up our socks and put in some elbow grease, we felt genuinely happy together in those moments—and those, I think, are the love-sustaining moments.
Why it’s a must read: When we enter into a relationship, we might find we’ve lost a part of ourselves, and that the only place to find our missing pieces is by being single again, by ending the relationship. But this just isn’t true. You’ll know you’re missing some much-needed breathing room if, after reading this, you feel an acute sense of longing for something other than love. It is an absolute necessity for a good relationship.
Why it’s a must read: A sweet, poetic reminder that we stay for the good stuff, and a cozy, romantic, yet realistic notion of what a long-long-long term relationship might feel like. (This is how I want to feel about my love when I’m 80—and I accept the in-between-states that must happen to get there.)
Why these are must reads: It’s easy to point the finger and recite a laundry list of everything the other person did wrong. What’s not so easy is realizing that even the biggest betrayals come as a result of two people not connecting for one reason or another—and half of those reasons are ones we, ourselves own. I’ve personally found that it’s impossible to repair a relationship without first having a good hard look in the mirror, accepting what we see, and attempting to clean a few of the obvious smudges. And I’m often met halfway, once I take the first step.
Why it’s a must read: There are so many little wisdom gems in this one—I know it’s long, but this is a time to pay special attention: trust is tricky. A realization I had after re-reading is that so many arguments arise because we don’t trust—we operate from the position that our partners are out to get us. If we think about our own part of an argument, we realize we aren’t aiming to hurt our partner and such is the same for them—we just want to be heard. When we take the time to come back to this truth, that they’re not coming from a malicious place, many of our grievances are easily deflated and resolved.
Why it’s a must read: Perhaps I’m a negative person—one of the many mirror smudges I’ve had to acknowledge and work on—and this is a must-needed reminder to balance my critical nature with kindness.
Why it’s a must read: We get so wrapped up in what might happen next, that the present is washed away, oblivious. I come back to this when I find myself worrying and I step away to re-evaluate my mindset. No amount of fretting over our relationships will do anything to shape our futures, but it will definitely turn right now into a pile of yuck. This seems like an impossible task, but every time I revisit this lesson, it gets easier. Instead of rehashing what if, I appreciate what’s going on in the moment, and it dawns on me how many good moments I’ve been passing up in favor of worry.
There are so many more “indie” articles and authors to share that I could fill this page many times over, but this is what I’d consider a good start for any of us who, like me, are floundering a little in the love department.
Please add your own recommendations in the comments!
Love elephant and want to go steady?