I believe that all relationships take work. Even the most amenable couples in the world have some work they put into their relationships. Some relationships need work with communication, getting over past mistakes, getting on the same page about finances, and so on. All relationships take some work here and there. My question is…
When is a relationship worth fighting for?
There comes a point in some relationships where no matter what you do, the work you put in becomes pointless. Not in all relationships, and maybe it’s a very small number, but some relationships are irreparable. When does a relationship become irreparable? When the work that a relationship needs hasn’t been addressed.
Think of it like this, if you have a ship that has a leak you repair it, right? If the repair doesn’t take, you repair it again. You keep working to make your ship seaworthy, and you periodically check to make sure no new leaks have sprung. You know that without constant work to stay seaworthy, your ship will sink to the bottom of the sea. That’s what an ideal relationship, one worth fighting for should be. You and your partner work to make sure that when you encounter a problem, you handle it together. If it’s an ongoing problem you work at it together. You don’t put off repairing your relationship, because you don’t want it to sink.
A relationship that isn’t worth fighting for has none of those qualities. If you let a “leak” happen in your relationship, big or small, without repairing it, eventually, your ship will sink. If the people in a relationship are unwilling to work to fix the problems, or are actively causing the problems, that relationship isn’t worth fighting for.
Let’s say that the “leak” in your relationship is infidelity, which you’ve decided to forgive. What happens when your partner refuses to stop cheating? Not only are they not working to fix the problem, they’re adding more problems. You can’t fix the leak in your ship if someone is going behind you undoing the work you’ve done to keep things afloat.
Fighting to keep a relationship afloat purely for the sake of fighting is pointless. Fighting to stay in a relationship where you do all the work is pointless. Fighting to be with someone who wont fight to be with you is pointless. Fighting to fix a relationship someone is trying to tear it down from the inside is pointless. These are the sort of relationships that aren’t worth fighting for.
Which brings us back to our central question:
When is a relationship worth fighting for?
It’s not when the good outweighs the bad, because bad things happen to good people in relationships. It isn’t just because a relationship is easy, because easy doesn’t necessarily make a relationship worth staying in. It definitely shouldn’t be because you want to prove people wrong.
What makes a relationship worth fighting for, in my humble opinion, are these five things:
- Resolve. Simple really, a relationship worth fighting for is one in which both people are determined to be in that relationship. Not A Relationship, but the current one their in. Serial monogamy isn’t the same as resolve.
- A willingness to communicate. Candidly, and with purpose. Communicating about the problems of the issues in a relationship, a willingness to listen, and a willingness to communicate your own feelings. If there is an absence of communication, especially if there is
- A willingness to work to fix issues. To be resolved to stay in a relationship on its own isn’t enough. People committed to staying in bad relationship have that. What makes for resolve stronger is a willingness to do the work that the relationship needs to survive and thrive.
- Compatibility. You don’t need to share the same interests, or hobbies, but there needs to be a certain level of compatibility in a relationship to work. This isn’t about “opposites attract” or anything like that. Compatibility when it comes to life goals, compatibility when it comes to what milestones you both want and expect in a relationship, things like that.
- Respect and Empathy. A relationship lacking respect and empathy is one not worth fighting for. If you can’t put yourself in your partner’s shoes, how will you ever be able to acknowledge the issues that they mentions as valid? If you don’t respect your partner, how can anything they tell you ever hold any significance?
Relationships come with their share of ups and downs, and some require more work than others. I hope that if you’re ever at a crossroads where you’re wondering if your relationship is worth fighting for, these tips will help you decide if you’re fighting a good fight.
Good Luck Out There.
Also published on Medium.