What Makes a Relationship Work or Not?

Relationships are what makes the world go round.

We need love to survive. You've heard of the experiment with the monkeys where they took some of them away from their mothers and put them in a cage with a mechanical mama monkey and left another group in a cage with their real mama monkey who loved, feed and cuddled them.

The monkeys with the mechanical mamma died.

Whoa! The conclusion was they died because they didn't get the love and connection we all need to thrive. Poor babies. I hate that they did that to the monkeys, and I hope you don't mind me sharing to illustrate this point. ❤️ 

We all have an instinct to be connected and feel love.

And because of this need, we try time and time again, in our relationships with ourselves, in romantic relationships, in familial relationships, in friendship, and in work relationships to make them work... OR we shrink from them.

Being in another country completely out of your comfort zone 90% of the time really gives one clarity of thought.

In pondering the secrets of the universe as I usually do with friends, either on the terrace of the villa in France or over the phone or zoom with colleagues and clients, I’ve realize two simple concepts, that when played out in life get really complicated and cause a lot of grief when you don't know and understand them and keep you from being able to forge ahead.

So here they are in the most succinct way that I have found to explain them in my 15 years of studying psychology, marriage and family therapy and coaching…

What makes a relationship work?

When both people are committed to the relationship and willing to work on it no matter what.

That’s it. In it’s most simplistic form! hallelujah!

What makes a relationship not work?

When met with the challenge of growth, this is all relationships, by the way, for some the growth is almost unbearable because it is so deeply sheltered, that it becomes a personal attack. Causing an absolute overlook. Drawing attention to it can make you the focal point of misdirected inner frustration. Usually, this means the relationship will end or at least become very unhealthy. 

So the simple truth of the matter is relationships don’t work when one or both people are unable or unwilling to look at what it is within them that needs to grow.

Relationships take effort.jpg

Acceptance my friends is what is needed here.

And love for the self and others. It’s ok. You can’t make someone be different or want to work on a relationship with you. You can be committed and you can be interested in your own personal growth. I encourage this because in the end you will be happier and have better relationships and nothing is more important.

You just need to clean up your side of the road in each relationship you have.

This means being in emotional adulthood, taking responsibility for all of your thoughts, behaviors, and feelings without blame. You are responsible for meeting your needs. So when you love someone, they can just be the object of your affection. Yes, there will still be things to work on and challenges, but if you are both committed to the growth opportunity that relationships all require of you, no matter what, you will find a way. But it takes two. AND in both cases it requires acceptance.

You can apply these concepts to any relationship, the ones we have with non-humans too.

Apply these concepts to your relationship with time, with money, with work, etc. Get creative. Be simply about understanding these concepts in times of confusion. Our brain likes to makes things complicated, so use these concepts to quiet your mind and get simple.

I hope this helps you see things more clearly.