What do you think the greatest strength builder in a relationship is? Some will answer marriage. Others will answer children. But the truth is that struggle is the greatest generator of strength when we’re talking about romantic relationships. Facing tough times with our partners brings us closer together.
Although adversity isn’t on the front of someone’s mind when they get into a relationship, the wise partner knows that there’s no such thing as smooth sailing forever when they fall in love. Life is still just as hard. There are even more obstacles that have to be faced. When you fall in love with the right person, that makes it worthwhile. Hardship and pain can create a stronger love and a stronger future when couples learn to see these challenges in a new light.
There’s no such thing as a perfect relationship.
Many fall into fantasy when they fall into romantic love. It’s a trap and one that can cause a lot of problems later on down the road. The fantasy of a perfect, easy relationship becomes especially hazardous when going through a rough spell (individually) or as a couple). If you’re looking for a fantasy, you think that hardship is worth giving up over.
There is no such thing as a perfect relationship. Life is messy, both on an individual level and on a couple level. Everything could be ideal between a couple. They could be swimming through life, when suddenly they are faced with the unimaginable challenges of life outside of their relationship.
Choosing to be a couple, choosing marriage or intimate partnership of any form, means you are choosing to navigate these challenges together. There is no such thing as perfect, but there are such things as trust, teamwork, and passion — all things that can be built in a partnership in the throes of adversity.
Instead of seeing the big challenges facing a partnership as a death, we are better suited when we choose to see them as an opportunity. There is a silver lining for those couples who choose to lean in as life gets tough. Relationships can be made stronger through the waves and storms of adversity.
Forging stronger relationships through hardship and pain (the how and the why).
Throwing in the towel when things get hard can be the worst mistake a couple makes. Sometimes, adversity can be the glue that brings your relationship back together. In fact, the hardships of life can create intensely strong bonds between couples while creating new opportunities and a deeper sense of trust and belonging.
A new appreciation
Going through a tough patch feels like a version of hell. Emotions run high and keeping your relationship in focus can become an impossible task. Despite all of that, couples who manage to make it through the challenges their relationship is pushed through are often couples who are left with an entirely new appreciation for one another.
The way it works is pretty straightforward. As couples are put through hardship, either together or individually, they are forced to reflect on who they are, what’s happened, and where they’ve come from. You take a deeper look at yourself and a deeper look at who you’re standing next to.
That brings a lot of couples to an entirely new appreciation. Respect rises to the surface when you find yourself standing next to someone who chose you, who chose to keep going — even though things were painful. Strength is seen in the other person and the relationship can take on a whole new light.
Never underestimate the power of appreciation in a romantic partnership. When one can appreciate the other person and themselves, one can better trust the other person and the direction the relationship is taking. Trust like that is key in making your long-term goals as a couple happen.
While individuality isn’t often thought of in terms of our relationships, it’s another core component of happiness and success. Each partner should have a general sense of who they are and what they want from life in order to make the partnership last. A strong sense of individuality and identity incorporates greater trust and passion for one another.
As adversity moves through one’s life, it changes that sense of individuality. For those who choose to lean in and get through the experience, they can find that they have different desires, goals, and needs on the other side. Some survive hardship to have greater confidence and skill.
That’s a boon to a healthy partnership. Partners can fall even more in love with one another as they become more authentically who and what they need to be within the life they are building together.
Creating better pathways
The really amazing thing about adversity, no matter how tough it may get, is that it always presents an opportunity. Getting fired from a job is scary. It puts material life at risk. But it also presents an opportunity for one to get a new job. Perhaps a better job. It creates opportunities to move to new environments and choose new people.
The same can be applied to a relationship.
As a couple, new opportunities are created as adversity is handled. Every couple navigates the flow differently, but the results are the same. Once the initial wave of shock has passed — after bankruptcy, a job loss, death, or any other big challenge — partners are faced with new choices.
Where does it go from here? What do we really want? Are we really going in the right direction? Do we want to start over? Everything looks different on the other side of adversity and that becomes a beautiful thing when you choose to see the opportunities.
Instilling greater trust
What good is an intimate relationship without a sense of trust? More vulnerability is shown in a romantic partnership than anywhere else in the world. Love is not the only thing that passes between two people committed to one another. They are positioned to see both the strengths and weaknesses in one another. Especially when faced with hardship.
Going through something challenging with your partner can create greater trust in one another and what you’re doing together. That’s a powerful force that can both move your love and reassure the investment you’re making in one another.
Seeing the person beside them go through the same depths of pain lends itself to that sense of trust. When someone is willing to suffer beside you, there is loyalty displayed there that enables partners to go deeper and be more vulnerable on the levels that matter.
No one likes to be weak. That’s doubly true in the age of social media. Everyone wants to show their best face, especially to their romantic partners. It’s normal to want the person you love most to see the best in you. That’s created by the core idea that we are only lovable for what is “positive” or strong in us.
Here’s the catch: that’s not true. Strength alone, the things that are good in us, are not what make us beautiful, and worthy. That comes down to wholeness. It is the full width and breadth of humanity that makes us the unique person that we are. The person that our partners fall in love with.
When we go through hardship, our weaknesses are unmasked before our partners. Your husband, or your wife, they see you in your lowest moments when you act in ways you are ashamed of. They see it all. Why is that good? Because unmasking your weaknesses actually makes you more lovable.
Becoming a true team
Adversity is a powerful team builder, especially in intimate partnerships. Just look at the benefits above. As trust is increased, partners learn to be more vulnerable with one another, and new opportunities are created — both parties are pulled closer together and driven toward a future more truly aligned with their goals.
Couples can become a true team when they choose to face the curveballs of life together. They are pushed back to back, forced to rely on one another and the faith they have in each other.
Communication cannot be overemphasized in a relationship. It’s a building block. Without a healthy dialogue, about good things and bad things, couples can’t grow closer and they can’t learn to foster the trust they need to build. Talking becomes even more important when a couple falls into hardship.
Partners have to talk about how they’re feeling and what’s happening. They have to sit down and talk about changing plans, new opportunities, and how they see defeating the obstacles in front of them.
Successful couples don’t get through hardship magically. They get through it by keeping the channels between them open…no matter what. Shutting down might be the easiest option, but strong couples know better.
Talking to one another is how they stay on track. It’s how they stay in love. It’s how they find the passion and the purpose even when the entire world feels like it’s crumbling down around them. They trust each other, so there’s nothing they can’t talk out.
Learning to lean on each other…
What is the central mechanism behind this growth? How could two people possibly grow closer when they are facing death? When they are facing unemployment or the loss of a home? It’s unimaginable, but it’s true. Couples who face adversity together learn to lean on each other and that’s what allows them to grow in their love and their trust.
What relationship could not benefit from that closeness? From learning how to trust another person outside of yourself? That’s transformative. It changes the way one is able to see themselves and the world around them too.
Does every relationship grow in this way? No. Partnerships planted in bad faith or with the wrong intentions don’t have the fortitude to face the hardships that life will bring them. Someone will break. Someone will be made worse by the experience. There is no room in a partnership that is ill-fitting to grow.
For those in a relationship with someone they truly love, someone who truly returns that love, hold on tight when life gets rough. Don’t run for the hills. Avoid throwing in the towel and seeking greener pastures in an uncertain future. Honor the investment you’ve made and allow yourselves to grow together as a team, as a unit. Within that safety, allow yourself to grow and find new pathways to better, more fulfilling futures in peace.