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Curly Nikki

Happily Ever After: Should It Really Be This Hard?

By January 27th, 202119 Comments
Happily Ever After: Should It Really Be This Hard?

Over the weekend, a few of my girlfriends got into a discussion about relationships and marriage and the question emerged: Should relationships be hard work?  

What do you think?  Naturally, a bunch of related questions will pop into your mind once you begin to think about it: If
my relationship feels like hard work, does that mean that I’m not with
the right person?  What are we doing wrong?  Is it supposed to be easy?

I’m not going to attempt to answer these questions for you today; my
intention is to trigger some self-exploration for you that will help you
understand your own situation.  But of course, I’m going to offer my

If your relationship feels like hard work because you are both juggling
careers, children, or whatever priorities exist for you, then this is
just a natural part of life.  Compromise and communication won’t always
be easy, but if the love you have for each other motivates you both to
make sacrifices and find that common ground, you’re on the right track.

If it feels like hard work because you can’t be yourself with that
person, or they don’t respect you, or show you love; then deep down, I’m
sure you know that something fundamental is not right.  If it feels
like hard work because you want that person to fill a void that exists
within you then that is also a problem. You can’t change the other
person, and you certainly can’t expect them to complete you – contrary
to what romantic comedies teach us.  If you’re not happy with the one
you’re with just the way they are, or vice versa, this is a red flag. 
Making this kind of union last will not only be hard work, it will be
fruitless hard work.

Consider the following:

“There are many of us who are looking at what we need and want in
relationships with eyes that have been blinded by the wrong
information.  What we think people can do for us or give to us, and how
we think they can make us feel will shift when we accept our true
identity and begin to love ourselves because of who we are – whole,
complete, and perfect beings.   In the absence of fear; love, joy, peace
and truth can reign supreme.”

— excerpt from In the Meantime, by Iyanla Vanzant

We’d love for you to share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments.

is co-authored by Kim Jackson and GG Renee with the intention of
connecting with women through messages of self-love and personal
freedom. We believe that true beauty starts on the inside and radiates
outward, so maintaining emotional health and balance should be an
essential part of every woman’s beauty regimen. We use this platform
as an opportunity to share our personal experiences, and to help other
women who are seeking guidance to find their own truths and live


  • relationshipdna says:

    Your garden analogy is perfect, couldn't have said it any better. The thing is, most people never really learned what a "good relationship" or "good marriage" for that matter looks like. They were never exposed to it and thus, simply end up fumbling through the process hoping they eventually get it right. It's like going on a trip with no destination or map really.

    It's a little sad, but much like anything you want in your life, the information and examples are out there and ready for you find when you've made the decision that you deserve it. When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

  • Jessica Coletrain says:

    Anything worth having is working for, my husband takes good care of me because I take good care of him. #mutualrespect

  • mjshegog says:

    For a Different POV. I am Atheist as is my future husband. We've been together for nearly 6 years now and have seen each other through graduate school and now Medical school. Our relationship is built on the fact that we were both complete people single for an extended (read scary) amount of time and we knew ourselves. We've been able to grow together and make each other better. It is work sometimes, no work sometimes and rarely hard work. But I feel relationships are like anything else in life they require some effort.

  • Natural Beauty says:

    I completely agree. If it's hard work due to circumstances such as work, kids, finances, etc, then that's normal. Everybody goes through that. If it's hard because the relationship is dysfunctional, you're bringing in baggage from the past that has no business being in the future, or you're in a deceitful, abusive relationship, then you already know whether or not it should be this hard. It may be hard for some to just walk away from a relationship that one has spent so much time investing into and there may be kids involved and such. But, like the article says, it's fruitless to continue to invest in such a relationship. People hardly ever change. Especially if you continue to stay with them despite what they do. They have no incentive to change due to having no consequences to their actions.

  • Derika says:

    Amen sister! I feel the same exact way. Since my husband and I have both built a relationship with Christ, our marriage has gotten easier. It is so much more peaceful because we pray together and read the Bible together. If things get rough, we talk about it because we recognize the devil's tricks, wiles, and darts being thrown to destroy what God has put together.

  • Tiff says:

    Sometimes you won't like the person your with, you won't like their attitude, they may seemingly undervalue you at times, and you may think they're getting ugly, but that doesn't mean it's dunzo. Be in charge of your own happiness. If there's something you want him to start doing for you, then do it for him. If all married couples got divorced when they were "unhappy" then there would be no point in anyone getting married. UNHAPPINESS, DISSATISFACTION, DISPLEASURE, DISCOMFORT, AND SICK-AND-TIRED IS APART OF MARRIAGE, IT CONTRIBUTES TO THE FABRIC OF YOUR STORY. THERE WILL ALWAYS BE A REASON TO LEAVE, no matter how smalll or large. Deal with it, in the method that God communicates to your spirit. Everyone's situation is different; Every woman should not get divorced just because they're not happy at the moment. TO EACH IT'S OWN.

  • Kay says:

    I agree, relationships shouldn't be hard work; however, they do require a commitment to the nurturing of the relationship. Once you have established that there is a genuine connection, you need to be committed to being there for the person as much as possible. To build that trust. A true friend is an integral part of your life.

    Those are just my thoughts on the topic…

  • kitka says:

    Any relationship worth having, whether platonic or romantic, needs to be nourished. The solidity and quality of your marriage depends on the foundation on which it was built. So yes, maintaining a good marriage takes WORK. It shouldn't be strenuous, but it is something you have to invest in daily. The Five Love Languages (by Dr. Gary Chapman) is a good book to read to get insight on possible ways that people give and receive love. My husband and I practice this technique, and it seems to work for us. It's not gospel, but it's definitely a good starting point for people who may feel like something is missing from their relationships.
    I once heard a minister who was officating a wedding ceremony say that men and women really don't have needs in marriage. I was like SAY WHAT NOW? Now that I think about it, I agree with him, in a way. I think that marriage becomes HARD work when your happiness depends somewhat on your spouse. I started out with high expectations, and when I was constantly disappointed (lol), I finally learned to expect nothing from him. Instead, I rely on God and myself. I released my husband from that responsibility. I had to learn to make MYSELF happy, and then I could focus on loving my husband. That way, anything he does is gravy lol. I think he noticed when I started taking care of myself the way I needed to. Don't get me wrong–we communicate openly about the things we like (and maybe don't like so much). But I stopped focusing on how he is making me happy or unhappy. I'm much happier just to make him happy. And he does the same for me. Now we have a stronger relationship.
    We still get mad at one another. Conflict resolution is something we have to REALLY work at. But we will work on that together. Marriage is a marathon, not a sprint. We fall in and out of love. People change and grow. As long as you share a common goal, you will be alright.

  • ss says:

    I married when I was 23. Let me tell you – marriage is not hard, but it is work. This is no lie. I take the Christian POV – for better for worse and for keeps.

    I just celebrated my 27th wedding anniversary last June.

    I'm not saying stay in an abusive relationship – that is not what our Father wants for us. If your man has a 'hand problem', let somebody know. A family member, a pastor, whoever. Shine some daylight on that foolishness and that should put an end to it.

    I thought of marriage as a garden. You can't just stand back and enjoy it without weeding, watering, and nourishing it. If you both don't put the effort into maintanence, how will your garden look? There are always weeds creeping in, it languishes during the long dry times, diseases and setbacks can happen. But with work from two willing partners, it can be made to flourish.
    Sometimes a wall appears in your garden. Right down the middle. Don't think that you can tear that wall down all by yourself – two people built that wall up, so it will take the same two people to tear it down.
    I once half-jokingly stated to a divorced and remarried friend that I was unable to participate in an activity because "I wanted to keep peace in my home". She quickly retorted,"if you HAVE to keep peace in your home, you never had peace there in the first place."
    I will close with a reflection on my earlier statement, our heavenly Father does not want us to be in an unsafe or unhealthy relationship. If you have to leave, leave, and be off on your own until you know how to love and respect yourself, and how to not tolerate abuse just because you don't want to be alone. That "half a loaf is better than none" foolishness has been responsible for so many dead and dysfunctional families.

    Be blessed

  • abrunnin says:

    I agree that love is a choice and not an emotion

  • Jesus-in-the-City says:

    I thought this was a really interesting question. As a Christian, I am answering from the world view of my faith, and obviously, I don't expect other people with different beliefs to have the same viewpoint. First off, I think the two categories of marriage and relationships are completely different and can't effectively be addressed under the same banner. As far as relationships and dating goes, I think a lot of what the writer said makes sense. When it comes to marriage though, in my opinion, I think some of what the writer said is a little flippant. I believe that marriage is an oath between a man, a woman and God, and so I don't think it can be said that if the marriage is hard work because you can't be yourself around the person or they don't respect you or show you love that something is fundamentally not right, insinuating that the marriage will eventually be fruitless.

    To be completely honest, I have been married for just under 2 years and we have a soon to be 14 month old baby. Both my husband and I are completely imperfect, selfish, hard headed human beings at times. I think we could, easily, both have said the other person didn't respect us or let us be ourselves at times. But, love is a choice, not an emotion or a feeling. We made a promise to each other and to God to be with each other til death, and God has made many promises to us in His Word. Knowing this and standing on this foundation on a day to day basis is what gets us through even the toughest of times when everything would point to a red flag, but God's Word points to "anything is possible with God," (Luke 1:37).

    Marriage can be VERY difficult hard work. There are different seasons where things might seem great and then things might be a real struggle. If you're not ready to commit yourself, for better or for worse, to another human being and to keep your promise to God, you probably shouldn't be getting married. That's my point of view.

  • Megan M. says:

    Relationships and marriages are hard work and required teamwork/partnership without those of course it is going to be hard work as well. I am not in a relationship of any kind, but I have seen how my mother and father's relationship was hard of course especially with four children, they stopped being a team. In relationships and marriage some people want their partner to be a certain way/ change them, either from watching TV, movies or what they did not have or see growing up, something they just learned or made up (unrealistic) and never using "I" statements learned this in my marriage and relationship class and also my stress management class in college. Relationships of any kind can be stressful and requires work and communication to maintain them. I also learned in college you can argue but never use fowl language or put a persons character down it is completely natural for couples to disagree and you can find another solution that both of you agree on instead of getting mad or trying to please the other and you are against it just to keep him or her happy. My criminal justice professor shared with the that this always comes up in divorce…he made me do this or I did not like this but did it only to please my partner. Simply communicate no I disagree… a lot off topic but I am just sharing why I have learned.

  • Janice says:

    Maybe I'm in the minority here, but I don't think relationships should be HARD work. Of course there will be some rough patches, but overall, you should find some joy and happiness in your marriage everyday. If God brought us together, and we keep Him at the center of our marriage, it should NOT be an everyday struggle. I was with my ex-fiance for 5 years and it was hard. Everyday it seemed like there was some new problem/issue/lies/etc… we were dealing with. Once I got delivered from that situation, God really opened my eyes to how a relationship should be and then I met my husband about a year later. We have been married for 4 years and this relationship is so right! Of course we have arguments and don't ALWAYS get along, but we both work at it, pray together, and keep our relationship positive.

  • Angie says:

    …If LOVE feels like a task to you, You should die!
    Seriously! Love towards a significant other is just like love towards a
    stranger, like hope….Godly even. Obviously, the world is not perfect but when
    you show love to others or an idea, the feeling is magically reciprocated
    back….Its almost feels like Disney World in your mind all day. Its truly
    simple, yet magical.

  • Yo says:

    Truth be told, anything good worth having is going to require work. I am not married but I'm in a long term relationship that constantly proves to be worth the work and effort we put in. I think we get bamboozled by the pretty pictures of love when in reality, love and relationships are far from being easy. Just like everything else in life, careers, goals, the journey in general, it takes blood, sweat and tears to make relationships work. Which is why it is important to be with someone you are equally yoked with. It's not going to happen if you are going one way and the other person isn't somewhere close behind.
    Successful relationships don't just happen over night…But, the right person and the right reasons, make it is all worth it in the end…
    Just my two cents

  • Safarascurls says:

    I agree with the article that the type of hard work matters. Realizing this is key to a successful marriage. This is my second time around and the hard work is much different than the first time. My marriage is hard work, and at times I feel like i want to give up. However, when I think about what makes it hard, it always comes back to children & careers. So sometimes you just need a break in order to move forward. This type of hard work makes me a better person so I continue in my marriage.

  • Gwenn4ya says:

    I've only been married for 7 years and I can attest to the fact that it is hard work! It is true that when you are in "search" of that someone, you have those blinders on and don't really see the real deal. I know for some, marriage looks sooo easy, but it is some hard work. It takes time, patience, and a whole lot of love and two willing people to have the same if not common goals….and a committment to each other. So easily spouses are often ready to give up when things get a little rough. Compromising is another key word I had to learn while in this relationship with my husband. It isn't always my way or his way….we have to learn to compromise. You have to keep in mind that you have two different minds coming together as one. If you are not willing to put in the hard work, then perhaps at this moment marriage or even a serious relationship may not be for you.

  • Tamieka McGibbon says:

    A saying I have always heard growing up, "If you want good, your nose has to run". Anything worth having, you are going to have to work hard for. Relationships are hard work and to have a very good relationship – you are going to work your butt off. Life is busy, we all know, but if you want a relationship that will last a lifetime, you have to take the time to make it work and make the sacrifices.

  • Sweetdrk1 says:

    I absolutely LOVE Iyanla! In the meantime is my favorite self help book ever. As for working hard to maintain a relationship, I think anything worth having takes work. The key is to measure the value.

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