3 Reasons Love is Not EnoughAug 09, 2022
Love is not enough. I know that may be hard to read but truly, in all my research, and in my experience of going through a divorce, it just isn’t. Maybe it was in “more simpler” times. But I believe with everything we are contending with nowadays, it’s just not enough in order to maintain a happy relationship. We don’t get taught how to nourish a healthy and conscious relationship at school, but I think if we had been taught a class on this, a lot of us may have been saved plenty of heartache and pain! Love may not be enough, but it’s also the driver of so much of what we do. So many of our decisions are based on finding that special person, creating a life with them, finding happiness and attempting to live happily ever after. So if, like me, you have been somewhat confused on your path of finding love, if you have been through relationship problems, I want to clarify some of the key components and building blocks to having a happy, nourished and healthy relationship.
1. Admire and respect your partner.
When you realise that admiration has gone, it’s hard to get it back. It’s important that the foundation of a relationship is full of admiration and respect. When you admire someone you hold them in high regard. You respect their decisions, you trust their decisions, you believe in them. You admire certain qualities, or the way they speak about things they are interested in and you respect their values. When you are fond of your partner you are loving and affectionate towards them.
The thing is, people change, situations change and with that perhaps your fondness, your respect, your admiration has over time become less and less. For example - when you met your partner, they were hard working & ambitious which was something you really admired. Then ten years later, they no longer are interested in being ambitious, they are more interested in feeling free and spending time with friends. They may even have a total career change and work part-time. This makes you unsure of who they are and what they want to achieve. However, can your admiration for them change in a positive way? Can you admire the fact that they want to spend more time with people, that they want to feel more connected, that they are brave enough to go against the grain and have a different life? Admiration can pivot. A new version of the relationship can develop. But we have to fundamentally have a good level of respect, fondness and even feel inspired by our partner for things to feel good and healthy within a relationship.
Something to note - you have to also admire and respect yourself in order to be able to truly admire and respect your partner. If you judge yourself a lot, if your inner critic is running wild a lot of the time, if your mental health is suffering, if you are always down on yourself for not being good enough, if you self-esteem is low, if you are not feeling confident… then the likelihood is, this is the energy you will be projecting onto your partner. To work on a relationship is to work on your own personal growth. As Mark Manson writes:
“As well as respecting your partner, you must also respect yourself (just as your partner must also respect themselves). Because without that self-respect, you will not feel worthy of the respect afforded by your partner—you will be unwilling to accept it and you will find ways to undermine it. You will constantly feel the need to compensate and prove yourself worthy of love, which can only backfire.”
How can I show more respect & admiration towards my partner? Big tip… it’s in the small moments, it’s the small details that really count.
2. Communicate to your partner, not behind their back.
One thing that I believe is really important within a relationship is that you openly tell your partner what’s bothering you, do not do it behind their back. It’s incredible really how many people will complain about their partners to other people without actually confronting the issue at home. To do this takes a significant level of vulnerability. To be able to share and express feelings, to be courageous enough to have difficult conversations, to be open enough to receive feedback that might be hard to hear, to feel the fear of being rejected and speaking up anyway. Communication takes a lot of work.
When you communicate to your partner, even though at first it may not be well received, you are building trust and intimacy. I have had first hand experience of true feelings being withheld from me for a long time and it sucks, it really sucks. Honesty is all to do with boundaries. And boundaries are all to do with self-worth. You must feel worthy enough that what you feel matters. And in expressing a boundary you are building self-worth. One key thing to remember with boundaries - it’s in the expression of the boundary that you empower the relationship and yourself, not in the reaction of the other person. Yes you may feel guilty that your partner is upset with your truth, but in the long run, it’s going to create a safe space for both of you. You are not responsible for your partners reactions. You are responsible for how you show up. So show up with integrity, express you true feelings with love and compassion and don’t speak badly about your partner behind their back.
(Of course, it’s ok to speak to a great trustworthy friend, or a therapist, or coach about what’s going on… but don’t be speaking willy nilly to every man and his dog about how useless your partner is, even if it feels like a throwaway comment, it disrespects the relationship.)
Have I expressed fully to my partner how I feel in a non-attacking, measured way?
Of course it’s important to spend quality time together but it’s also so important to create space within a relationship. We have to have our own interests, hobbies & friends to create separation. When we are enmeshed within a relationship, we can become too dependent and loose our own sense of identity and worth. We want to make sure that we aren’t relying on someone else to validate us and make us feel worthy. We have to allow our partner freedom and space not only to do the things they want to do separately from us, but also to do things their own way. When we try to control how our partner loads the dishwasher, or how our partner drives, or how our partner books a holiday… we create codependency which is no good for anyone. Trust me, I have been there, trying to control way too much! We have to give our partner a sense of autonomy in order for them to feel worthy and loved. When we are trying to control, it’s often a sign that we are lacking in our own self-worth.
“Generally, the more uncomfortable we are with our own worthiness in the relationship, the more we will try to control our partner’s behaviour.” - Mark Manson
Plus, not allowing our partner to just be how they are, do the things the way they want to do them, is a subtle sign of disrespect. And we know how important it is to respect our other half.
Esther Perel says that one of the most important things for desire within a long term relationship is space. If we are on top of one another all the time, or micromanaging things for one another… we will not find our partner attractive. We will not have the physical or psychological distance that is required for mystery, curiosity, interest, admiration, intrigue and excitement. We also can’t have all our needs met by our partner - our partner cannot be our lover, our confidante, our soul mate, our financial advisor, our friend, our personal assistant and all the people! We have to remember to go to different people, seek out a therapist or coach and we also have to learn to rely on ourselves.
Is my partner getting the space they need? Am I getting the space I need?
What can I put in place to prioritise this?
The bottom line, relationships take work… conscious relationships take work. But it’s so worth it - not just for your partner and the relationship you have together, but also you will learn more about yourself than you could have ever imagined.
I would love to help you, click here to find out more about The Lover's Guide to Conflict - an online workshop to help you not only find out how to communicate better, but how to understand your emotional needs and the 4 signs of failure within a relationship. Transform your relationships forever.
"Really loved the workshop it was so fab! It’s really had such a positive impact on my communication with my husband. We fight way less (I don’t think we’ve actually had a fight since) and repair much faster, and my husband is really listening and understanding. Our disagreements are way more constructive now where we see where each other are coming from and try to solve it."
- Laura, Lover's Guide Student.