The moment I joined Pinterest and started going through all the relationship pins, the one common theme was affirmations, affirmations, and more affirmations. I mostly brushed them off until I started seeing affirmations to save your marriage/relationship.
Now, let’s start by making a clear difference between affirmations, motivation, and goals.
Motivation is your reason for doing something. Wanting to be in a healthy relationship, to be happy with that person, to live a fulfilled life with them - perfectly valid motivation, and you should definitely rely on it to give you strength for your efforts.
Goals can be short term (solve this issue and finish this fight) and long-term (get married, have seven kids), and they are also valid. They help you know what you're striving for and what steps you need to undertake in order to get there.
Affirmations, on the other hand, are these sentences you repeat to yourself, hoping the universe will give you what you want without any real effort from your side. Now, you can call me a skeptic, but that doesn’t seem very useful to me.
Affirmations vs. Effort
Here’s a question to get us started. You have 2000 pages to learn for your exam. Are you going to:
pull a couple of all-nighters hoping you get the questions you have learned best, or
Disregard the book completely and affirm to yourself you’re going to pass it with 0 knowledge?
I believe we’re all making the same choice here. Now, you might say “Yes, well, the universe won’t give me complete knowledge of the American law system, but relationships are something else. They’re ethereal, they’re based on feelings, emotions, and a whole lot of luck!”
Sure, but they’re also based on a lot of hard work. I already spoke in one of my previous articles about how romantic comedies ruined a lot of us by making us believe that “what will be will be” without us needing to lift a finger.
But how many couples do you know who met on accident, stayed together on accident, and are 100% happy without trying? To contrast that, how many do you know of who fight, cry, are on the verge of a breakup and breakdown, and only overcome it when they try hard as hell?
Affirmations Make Sense - I Understand.
I know what makes affirmations so appealing - trust me, I understand! Relationships are so complicated. As human beings, we are complex enough on our own, let alone when we’re combined with another complex psyche! There’s no equation to solving a marital problem or a misunderstanding; there’s no contract you sign that promises you 100 years of endless love. There are a lot of X’s and Y’s in there and accepting that we cannot control it 100% (and even the parts we can control we need to work very hard for!) doesn’t sound appealing at all.
After all, if we can all simply attract what we want without doing anything, why shouldn’t we?
But trust me when I say - affirmations will only leave you confused and sad once you see that nothing is changing. But rather than understanding that and doing the hard work, you’ll go on reading about “Why your affirmations aren’t working and how to fix it”, because, well - it’s the easy way out, isn’t it?
But here’s the harsh truth. If you don’t put in the work, nothing will change. If your partner doesn’t put in the work, the problems will remain. If you don’t talk about it and work hard on changing whatever needs to be changed, no amount of affirmations will do it for you. And even if you do try so hard, things may not work out. It sucks, I know - but the sooner you accept that, the bigger the chance you’ll actually solve it all and have a happy life and a healthy relationship.
Stay motivated. Work towards your goals. Stay positive - but put in the hard work, too.