Dieting is hard. Developing new eating habits, resisting favorite meals, and the thought of having to stick with it over a long period of time can make it easy to quit before seeing results. Some quit before they ever get started (I’ll start tomorrow), some quit midway through (It wasn’t working), some go back to their old patterns after getting the results they want, and others are able to change their lives and eating habits altogether. This rings true for diets, and also for relationships.
If someone said “I had a salad three times this month and I haven’t lost any weight, diets don’t work!” your eyes would roll faster than Sisyphus’s boulder. Yet this happens all the time in relationships. Often time’s couples or individuals will try something new and when they don’t get the results they want they give up and return to their old habits. People are quick to point out the time they tried to talk in different ways or use a different approach but when it’s not met with their desired outcome they give up and build more resentment towards their partner. If people treated lettuce and kale like that, they would surely burn all of it to the ground, and in the case of kale that might not be a bad thing.
There is a difference between trying and committing. Sprinkling a salad in every couple of weeks isn’t going to change anything. People need to mentally buy into what you’re doing. With relationships, people often want instant gratification instead of focusing on the long term. If someone wants to spend the rest of your life with another person, then dedicating a few months or even a few years to building healthier relationship habits is not that much time in the scope of a lifetime. Don’t try and change your marriage, commit to making it better.
When people commit to a diet they have specific goals in mind; to lose weight, be healthier, look better naked or all the above. Relationships should have clear goals as well; to argue less, to communicate better, to spend more quality time together, and to burn kale to the ground. I’m only kidding about that last one, kale tastes fine for bitter lawn clippings. Whatever the goals are it’s important to stay focused on them and not on the negatives. When on a diet and staring at a menu people remind them self of their goals and begrudgingly order the salad. Yet when faced with a familiar argument it can be hard for people to change their ingrained habits of responding. When people are able to consistently make the choice that goes with their goals instead of their feelings at the time, that’s when they start to change their habits and lifestyle.
It’s one thing to commit to a diet; it’s another thing to know how to have a plan and know how to implement it. If someone could only describe their diet in vague terms like “trying to eat healthier” or “trying to eat less.” chances are people wouldn’t be asking them for advice. However if someone were to talk about the foods they were avoiding, how they approach meals and snacking differently, and how they reinvented how they shop for groceries, that might intrigue people’s curiosity. Relationships should be no different. If someone were to say “I’m trying to be nicer.” Or “I’m trying to yell less.” They are going to be met with skepticism. But if they tell you how they are making sure they help out around the house every day, make spending quality time a priority, and are continually working on how they communicate with their partner to build a healthier relationship, then one should be inclined to stand up and give them a roaring applause.
Relationships can be hard. Developing new habits, changing communication style, controlling emotions, and committing to it even when the other person is not reciprocating, can make it easy to quit before seeing results. Don’t treat your relationship like a bad diet. Don’t wait until tomorrow. Don’t give up after a few weeks. Commit to it. Commit to breaking old patterns and building a healthier relationship. If you can force yourself to eat kale for your diet you can find the strength to change the negative cycles in your relationship. Like eating healthier, the more it is put into practice, the easier it is and the results become more visible. This rings true for diets, and fortunately, it also rings true for relationships.