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Do healthy relationships require effort?

Valentine's Day is almost here. Every year, on that day, the spotlight of attention is put on relationships.

It's a good idea to given encouragement to your relationships. A few loving and encouraging words go a long way. Valentine's Day gives you an opportunity for expressing encouragement and love.

With relationships being in the spotlight, I find myself facing a challenging question. That question is 'Are relationships easy or hard?'

One affair 'expert' claims "Love is natural. It just is. No need to 'work at it'". I contrast this with a letter received from a reader who said regarding their relationship "We are working harder than before."

So, is a loving relationship something that 'just is' or do you have to work at it?

I believe relationships requires work. Loving others, including your spouse when they are at their most unlovable moments requires effort.

I'll grant you that I don't mind the effort, and don't consider it a struggle, yet that doesn't mean my love "just is".

Relationships require honesty. Reaching that honesty requires creating an atmosphere of safety along with being vulnerable and taking risks. There are times I wrestle with identifying what I feel and finding ways of expressing it.

There are times when the selfish side of me resists sharing and making time for others. In my mind, true love always requires sacrificial giving at some level. With persons I love, I don't mind making such sacrifices.

Those sacrifices consists of me putting them ahead of my own selfish interests. Even Scripture mentions how husbands and wives focus on the needs and wants of each other.

For me, concentrating my focus on the needs of my wife requires effort. So, if Scripture points out that effort is required in marriage relationships, who am I to argue?

I also find that discerning when and where boundaries are needed in relationships requires effort as well. It's work figuring such things out, along with the best way of approaching the sensitive issue needing the boundary.

I also know that any work you invest in your relationship pays big dividends. Time spent improving relationships is never wasted.

It would be nice if you had a great marriage relationship without effort. Given that we invest our time and money in what's important for us, a marriage without effort raises questions about how much it's valued.

If you want more from your marriage relationship, you may want to consider the "30 Days to a Better Marriage" program, which guides you in turning your marriage around.

Best Regards,

Jeff