Updated: Feb 26, 2018
I was going through a rough patch with someone I was in a relationship with and I remember myself feeling all frustrated because I simply couldn't understand what was being asked of me in order to try and salvage the relationship so on the verge of giving up while fluttering my hands about like the emotional, Mediterranean that I am, I asked one big and very angry question: "What is your idea of a healthy relationship then?!" The answer I got was: "EFFORTLESS, a good relationship must be effortless!"
You may think it's a good answer right? Well it depends on who is telling you this and what they mean by it. In this case, I knew that by "effortless", this person meant "making absolutely no effort at all", not even to find some time for their other half, let alone to do things together, invest time in getting to know each other, give and receive love or even merely doing the dishes after the other has cooked. That's clearly wrong right?
But something about the idea of an effortless relationship still sounded very appealing to me so it made me wonder how a healthy relationship could be effortless and I realised that a relationship between two people can be effortless only after both parties have put in enough EFFORT so that the harmony between them makes it feel effortless! Think of it like an engine: when it lacks oil, it doesn't work smoothly, it might make funny noises, make the ride less enjoyable, consume more fuel or cause issues to the rest of the vehicle but if you service it and keep it well-oiled, it will seem like it's working effortlessly! Like everything in life, if something is worth having, it is worth taking care of; it is worth the effort.
So which efforts are needed for the relationship to run smoothly? There are many. But, there is one fundamental thing that represents the ‘oil’ in the engine that will keep the relationship healthy. It’s the language of love! There are 5 to be exact:
1. receiving gifts;
2. quality time;
3. words of affirmation;
4. acts of service (devotion); and
5. physical touch.
Just like anything else in life, if you are wise enough, before you even invest in something, you do your research, you investigate whether what you are about to invest in really is what you’ve been looking for, you analyse its pros and cons, you make sure it’s going to be good value for your time / money and then you make sure you can actually afford it.
How is this applied to relationships? Well before you invest time in a new relationship, it is always wise to talk, communicate, get to know the person, where they are coming from, what life lessons they have learned, their strengths and weaknesses, how they perceive life, what their idea of a relationship is, what they enjoy, what they don’t enjoy, etc. The idea is not to find someone identical to you, but someone who can fit into your jigsaw puzzle.
Now let’s say that you’ve decided to commit to this person, you think it’s going to be fairly easy and effortless because of the similarities you share with them, only to then discover that you still don’t seem to be understanding each other because you’ve missed one very important thing: Communication. Not doing the actual communication, but understanding how each of you communicate their love to the other.
As Gary Chapman says in his book, “The Five Love Languages”, people will communicate their love in the same way they like to receive it. Now think… how do you like to receive love? Do you like to receive small, frequent gifts? Do you like to spend quality time with your partner? Do you like when they use words? Do you like them to do things for you, such as washing your clothes or cooking for you? Or do you prefer the act of physical touch, such as holding hands, caressing, hugging, making love? Everyone is different. Now imagine if your preferred way of receiving love is via receiving gifts, and your other half shows love by acts of physical touch. In your mind, you are not receiving love because your partner is not buying you gifts, and as a result, you feel unfulfilled and you start doubting whether your partner really has feelings for you. Don’t you think that this is a fundamental thing that you missed in your initial communication?
Now does that mean that if you have different ways of showing love, you shouldn’t be together? No. But it will take MORE effort because you will have to train yourself to receive and feel love coming in other forms. No relationship is easy but this difference certainly requires lots of hard work. Moral of the story: a relationship is effortless only when you have put in the necessary efforts in order to make it run smoothly. If that means acknowledging your loved one’s way of giving love, that’s a great place to start! If you nail this, you are now 2 imperfect individuals who accept and understand each other perfectly… this harmony between the couple creates an effortless engine. GOOD LUCK!