Don’t Give Up the 80% for the 20%

Relationships are an investment.  There is a natural ebb and flow to them, and they change as the people in the relationship shift and grow over time.  What may have worked at one point, may not work at another especially as relationships shift out of the infatuation phase and into the more “run-the-engine” phase.

My relationship with my husband stayed in the infatuation phase for quite awhile – about 5 years or so.  He could do no wrong, and it never occurred to me we could ever struggle.

Then we had a baby.

Talk about a shift in a relationship!  Oy.  Having a baby makes the rubber hit the road. There is a lot less sleep which means a lot less patience which can open the door to jabs and digs that seemed unimaginable just months before.  Every long term relationship has its moments of struggle brought on by different life events, and it is these demanding times that can make or break our commitment.

The good news is that relationships shouldn’t be challenging forever.  Why be in one if it is relentlessly difficult?  I don’t know anyone who would sign up for that!  But here’s the thing, most relationships do settle out if we can focus on making each other better, not trying to change the other, learning to truly listen, and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable.

I’ve written about my bout with postpartum depression, and thankfully through the support of a great therapist and committed friends I made it through, and my marriage did, too.

But, there is one piece of advice that sticks with me today that I received from a dear friend and colleague: “Don’t give up the 80% for the 20% that doesn’t work.”

How simple yet brilliant is that nugget, and one I go to over and over again as my relationships grow and change.  This imperative puts a relationship struggle in perspective.  It has me ask how important my personal stance is on a particular matter.  It provides relativity which is a game changer when doing the hard work of a committed relationship.

As you go out today, and every day, ask yourself if the 20% is worth the 80%.


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