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How Did Our Relationship Become So Complicated?

How Did Our Marriage Become so Complicated? Is it supposed to be THIS hard?

I was talking to a friend recently about relationships and marriage and how they get into the ruts that can plague them. We all have them, whether it’s an off day, week or month(s). But how does it go from always be so easy to being so much work?

When did it all get so complicated?

I was reminded of this conversation when I was driving into work today and heard a song that was basically saying – why can’t it just be the two of us without all of the other mess?

How does it get so hard to just be two people in love? How do you know if it’s supposed to be like this or if your marriage is somehow different and not as strong or as “good” as everyone else’s?

I look at it as if your marriage is a puzzle. In the beginning everything is new, exciting and easy. And it should be, because there are only 2 pieces to the puzzle at this time: You and Me. It’s only the two of you without the added layers of time, obligations and a past. It’s simple and making a perfect connection doesn’t take any effort. Not that effort would frighten you, because your partner is perfect. Right?

As time goes on, new pieces are added. Relationships with friends or family, resentments, disagreements, flaws that you start to see in one another, outside obligations, kids, house duties, the list goes on and on. With more time comes more pieces. You now are left trying to make everything fit in order to get that happy, clear picture. It’s not perfect anymore. The sides don’t always line up exactly and sometimes it feels like half the puzzle has been thrown about. These are the times when you may question or doubt…which only serves to add more for you to manage.

Is it supposed to be like this?

When you have a real connection with someone that grows deeper with time, and when you begin to build a life with someone, complexity is added. It’s supposed to happen that way as a result of growing together. If the added stress and complexity scares you away you will never get to expirience the deeper and truer parts of the relationship. You will miss out on the opportunity to see and feel something amazing.

A two piece puzzle is nice. You look at it, it’s probably something simple like a picture of a tree, and you think – “well, that’s nice” – and it is. You can appreciate it and you can enjoy it, but it isn’t anything spectacular, especially when you compare it to a 1,000 piece work of art.

The more you are introducing into your relationship, the more likely it is that you will have difficult times. That’s really how it’s supposed to be, you cannot build a true life with someone without the downs to accompany your ups.

The off days, ruts, doubts and fears are normal at some point or another in every long-term relationship. We usually won’t even question a thing until we are in the thick of a fog, which is the exact time we should instead be focusing on the core instead of the outlying pieces.

The core, your center, should always be each other. When you get lost in the chaos of kids, duties and obligations you need to refocus on where you started. Who cares if everything else is working if your marriage isn’t? Your number one needs to be your spouse above everything else that has been added. They need to be before the kids, before your job, before your parents or friends – before everything. The two of you are what started it all. You created your life and the world you are living in together.

Your marriage is supposed to be complicated and by design you will go through times of disconnect, miscommunication and doubt. Just remember that while a rut is normal, it doesn’t have to continue long. Focus on your first two pieces, spend quality time together, rearrange your thinking to put your marriage first, and sometimes drop the other mess and just be the two of you.

How Did Our Relationship Become So Complicated?

Amy Bellows, PhD

Amy Bellows holds a PhD in Psychology and has had the opportunity to work in various settings including leading adolescent group therapy sessions, working with victims of sexual assault, helping woman inmates adjust to post-prison life, conducting parenting education classes and assisting with drug and alcohol dependency treatment plans. The unique challenges and opportunities that come along with being a part of a step-family is a special interest of hers. Amy is currently working in the corporate environment with a interest in group dynamics and change management. You can find her on her website, or on Twitter @AmyBellowsPhD.

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APA Reference
Bellows, A. (2017). How Did Our Relationship Become So Complicated?. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 8, 2020, from


Last updated: 24 Jan 2017
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