By Dr. Ken Fung
In your relationship journey, you and your partner may, together or separately, encounter discouragement, fatigue or disinterest. You may even question if you should continue together. It is not uncommon to experience these feelings in a long-term relationship, but they are not necessarily a reason to break things off, or even to be worried.
Every relationship experiences ups and downs. Even the happiest relationships have moments of doubt and dispassion. In these times, do not panic or rush try to “fix” things. Rather, accept them as natural part of the relationship, just like happy emotions. No emotion last forever, happy or unhappy.
More importantly, ensure that there is an emotional connection between you and your partner. After all, this connection plays an important role in whether you can understand, empathise and care for each other.
Sometimes people become resentful because they feel that what they have given in their relationship is not directly proportional to what they received in return. They have become “emotional accountants”, pursuing an exact balance of payment. This mindset is never helpful, as no two people show love and affection in quite the same manner, nor do they necessarily view the same task with equal weight. It does take two people to have a loving relationship, but how each approaches and understands it can be different but equal in their hearts.
Instead, focus what your partner has done for you, and savour the happiness you have in these shared moments. Understand how they contribute to the relationship, perhaps in ways that you did not even consider. Maybe they show their commitment in practical ways, that don’t seem romantic, but are an act of love nonetheless.
When you are baffled, think about what beliefs you entered into the relationship with, and how those shared values provide a strong bedrock as you move through life together. Remember how you met your partner, fell in love, and decided to commit to each other. Also review what happened in all the times that you two have shared — not just those that have discouraged you.
Finally, if you find that you are frustrated because you can’t solve some problems, don’t despair. No relationship is perfect. As a psychologist, I can tell you that between couples, nearly 70% of problems are unsolvable, and are known as “perpetual problems”.
If there are some issues lingering and going back and forth, then they simply may not be resolved. If you insist on trying to solve them thoroughly to your satisfaction, it may only bring disappointment and affect the relationship. What you can do is think about how to coexist with these issues, how to use compromise and dialogue to maintain your hard-won investment, and get along.
If you are having difficulty with your relationship, it doesn’t mean it is over. Remember that no relationship is perfect, that some times may be happier than others, and some aspects of your partner will never change. If you need help sorting through this process, contact the BFDC. We can help.