Some sneaky relationship myths that I think are doing people a great disservice, one of which I personally have been majorly burned by.
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Hey my friends how's it going? So some of you may know since I've talked about it before on here that I grew up in the Mormon cult, and I'm using cult here very intentionally because I believe that that's what it is. And I know there are people who will disagree very strongly with that and they are free to do so ,but I believe it meets the criteria of a cult. So that's what I'm calling it. And as a young girl growing up in the Mormon cult, they start teaching you very young about how important it is for you to get married and have lots of babies. Because in Mormonism, that is women's sole purpose. And so they start that indoctrination very young. So it was pretty regular for me to learn about marriage or eternal marriage, as they would call it, which basically indicates that someone is married inside of the Mormon temple. And something I routinely heard and was explicitly told in this teaching about marriage is that marriage is hard. It is hard work. It's something you have to work really hard at. Over and over and over again. That's what Iheard:
marriage is hard. And I don't think that this teaching is unique to the cult. I think it's an attitude that's kind of been passed down through the generations to many women. Marriage is hard. But hard is never defined. No one says what specifically is hard about it. Just that it's hard. So we have this generation of older married women always saying and telling younger unmarried women that marriage is hard work. So when I got married at the ripe old age of 21, and my husband started controlling what clothes I could wear and restricting who I could talk to. It was hard. We had fights as he started becoming more and more controlling and as I at first resisted that, like nasty fights, like screaming in your face, ripping the door off the hinges fights. And it was hard. And I heard my whole life that marriage is hard. And so when all this was happening, I was just like yep, they were right, and marriage is hard. It fit into what I had been taught, so I wasn't figuring that anything was off. I figured that everyone's marriage must be like this. That behind closed doors, we weren't different than anyone else. In that this must be the hard that I had always heard about. But the thing is, I don't think marriage is actually hard. And I'm not married Now full disclosure, but I am in a long term committed partnership like we live together. We've been together for years. And it isn't hard. And that's not to say that there isn't effort involved. All relationships, take effort. And that's not to say that there is never hard moments because Sure, there are some moments that are hard but as a whole, it's not hard. Right? You have to make the effort to communicate how you're feeling and you have to give the benefit of the doubt and you have to make time for each other. But it's not unique in that and what I mean is that intimate relationships, whether they be familial, romantic, or platonic, all take the same type of effort. But we rarely say something like Oh my god, having a best friend is so hard. Even though it takes just as much effort to nurture that relationship as any other. Right, and I'm not saying that there's not conflict in relationships. There's conflict all the time. It's natural and normal in human relationships. And it takes mutual respect and active collaboration and partnership to work through that conflict. But in a healthy relationship based on mutual love and respect, and a commitment to each other, it really isn't hard and I don't think it is useful to call nurturing a relationship and collaborating on efforts like running a household or raising children as hard because hard connotes suffering. And a relationship shouldn't feel like suffering. Right making effort in a relationship is not suffering. What is hard what is suffering is having someone try to control you , what is hard is having to walk on eggshells all the time. What is hard is constantly being disrespected. Being in a mutually respectful engaged partnership is not hard. It's not suffering. And it's not that the older generation got it wrong. I remember hearing one of my mentors talking about how she was watching the news and they were spotlighting this older couple that had been married for like over 60 years or something crazy. And they were talking about how he had cheated on her like the whole marriage and they were asking her why she forgave him and why she stayed with him throughout all those times of being cheated on. And she replied to that by saying what choice did I have? I'm a woman. So the older generations were not wrong when they said marriage was hard. Because for them, it probably was but it probably wasn't marriage. That was hard. It was being a woman that was hard. Being a woman where you didn't have options. For a long time, women couldn't own property. They couldn't take out loans without a man co signing. They couldn't have a credit card without a man. They faced horrendous job discrimination. They were stuck. A lot of the time they were stuck in marriages that were hard marriages where they were abused and cheated on and they had no other option and it was hard. It was hard to know your husband was with his mistress. It was hard to keep the house spotless and know whether it was safe to talk to him right when he came home. I bet it was hard for a lot of them. Obviously, this was not everyone's experience. I'm sure of that. But I do believe that everyone who calls marriage hard, does it because of this or some version of this. So I think this has evolved to be one of the great myths of relationships. And I do think that there is another myth in relationship that sits on the other end of the spectrum. And it is that if it is the right relationship, it will be easy. The belief that there shouldn't be conflict and things should be peachy all of the time. And if there ever is conflict or a lull in the relationship, it means that it is bad and doomed. And this goes back to effort once again. You can't do nothing to nurture a relationship and expect it to be great. A great relationship takes effort. And I think when you think it should be easy, it means you are expecting to not need effort and expecting that there won't be uncomfortable moments. Because there are uncomfortable moments in relationships. When you get in a relationship if your attachment style is anything other than secure, you're going to have your own inner demons to work through regarding hyper vigilance and how willing you are to be vulnerable and open with someone. good relationships with true intimacy require vulnerability. And vulnerability is not always comfortable. But it is what builds deep relationships. So while it isn't hard, it isn't easy either. And I think trying to define relationships as being either easy or hard is a false binary. That I think does people a disservice. I don't think it is useful to think of them that way. Relationships are just relationships. They're a mix of both there are blissful easy moments and there are hard difficult moments, but overall, they just are. They take certain intimacy skills and that's really it. You can get more comfortable and practiced in those skills. But it won't be either easy or hard. It's not an either or. It's kind of a both. And I think a way better way to talk about relationship is to talk about them in terms of effort and in terms of intimacy skills. Telling someone that a relationship should be easy or should be hard doesn't really tell them how a healthy relationship is. It lets it remain vague and ambiguous and undefined and unknowable. And I think there is a lot of confusion out there as to what is a healthy relationship like if you've not had that modeled for you, in your in your family life, You might not know and so when someone comes along and says hard, you might take that to mean something totally different or when they say easy, something that's not correct. What is useful is to talk about the skills that are required to be successful in relationships. And talk about how to go about building those. And not setting it up to be this false binary that just really doesn't exist. And it's so interesting to me that we talk about romantic relationships so often as if they are this different beast and in truth relationships are relationships, that you can have very intimate friendships that will take the same effort and the same intimacy skills as a romantic partnership. The only difference is that you probably aren't having sex with them. But the relationship part of it is the same. And yet we don't make a big deal out of our friendships. We don't talk about them in the same way and build myths surrounding them the same way that we do with romantic relationships. And so I just think that something so easy to think about like if you have the ability to form close friendships and you have those skills, then you also have the skills to form an intimate romantic relationship. Because the relationship skills are not different from one from the other. Like the only difference is really sex and that's not the intimacy part of it. So that's what I got for you, my friends. let's bust down some of the either or black and white thinking that people seem to be so fond of myself included. Until next time, be well.