You, Me And Our Relationship
A relationship is like a whole other person in between.
It is strange that we take years to understand that relationships have a life of their own. Suppose you and I are in a relationship - any kind — not just a romantic one, then that relationship behaves like a whole other entity. It is like another person. It has birth, growth, change, sickness, health and sometimes death. It has primary needs like hunger, thirst, and attention. We act like relationships are mere extensions of us. They are nothing of the kind. They have a life of their own.
Relationships are like a whole other person between the two people in a relationship. We can’t just feed the needs of the individuals in a relationship. We have to make sure that we nurture this third person as well. Otherwise, relationships might throw tantrums, grow weak or die. We probably still like and love the other person, but the relationship will have gone.
In a solid and healthy relationship, both the persons involved know that they have to look at their relationship as a joint investment. They make sure that they nurture not just their own self and expectations but also that of their relationship. They keep the health of their relationship on their radar, monitor its health, and take corrective actions when necessary.
We too must treat our relationships with care. Especially the ones that have the potential to be healthy, loving, and lifelong. We will of course have fights and arguments along the way. Who doesn’t? And when that happens, one or both of the involved likely ends up compromising or stepping back — just to keep the peace. Even if this is okay on a personal level, it is important to query your relationship from time to time — “Are YOU okay?” “Did this compromise hurt your health?” “Are you still balanced?” This routine will help us tweak our conflict management techniques and responses in the long run.
After big conflicts and misunderstandings, it is not enough to just heal ourselves but also the relationship back to good health— as if it were another person involved. Because — well, it is. Really. We cannot afford to forget this.
It is a funny thing — if we ignore a relationship, it sulks, shape shifts, starves, becomes brittle or fragile, forgets to dress up or go out or talk to others. Eventually, if we ignore it long enough, it stops giving a damn about both and then either self-destructs and drags us along or dies quietly in a corner. Either way, it’s a loss of something good.
On the other hand, if we overfocus on the relationship at the cost of our individual well-being, it ends up getting overfed and overweight and smug. It behaves like a glutton who is never satisfied. It overthrows one or both and stops being the nurturer. It takes and takes and never gives back. In the long run, that’s no good either. Both the people involved have to feel healthy along with the relationship. Only then does it work better in the long term.
In my experience, the same relationship (between the same people) can go through both the phases I mention above. This business of maintaining relationships is hard work. It needs stamina and honesty. But if we can get it right at least some of the time, then it can be the most supportive and stabilizing anchor in our life. It can help ease depression and avoid stagnation to a large extent.
So. Keep your relationship healthy. From time to time brush its coat, trim its hair, dress it up and take it for a walk. Allow it to run free and shine. Let it inhale freely, and exhale deeply. It will likely support you back — as it rightly should.