You must never give up.
No matter how hopeless it might seem, you must never give up Love's Dream.
And no, it is not required that living The Dream must hurt. If it hurts, you are not living The Dream, you are living a nightmare and calling it a dream, hoping that it will become one.
Stop it. Stop the struggling. The Dream has no struggle in it. If you are struggling, you are not living The Dream.
Now "struggle" does not mean the small discomforts or the once-in-a-while feelings of not-okayness that are encountered by any two people who have chosen to be together intimately. It does not mean the little differences that from time to time have to be worked out. "Struggle" means just that: struggle. Ongoing difficulty. Frequent and recurring and serious discord, disharmony, disagreement.
"Struggle" means that things that ought to be simple become complex, moments which could easily be serene erupt into turmoil. Nervousness replaces excitement, sadness replaces bliss, walking on eggshells replaces walking on clouds.
You are struggling in your relationship when wariness overcomes eagerness, when pain pushes happiness out of the room...and when this happens often. Not once in a while. Not now and then. Often.
One can't ever fully relax anymore. Just when it seems like, well, this isn't so bad, I can make this work...boom...the door slams, the bomb drops, the sweetness crashes and reveals itself to be not the stuff of sturdiness that can be counted on, but an oh-so-fragile thing that cannot withstand even the gentle touch of intimacy.
I am asked, more than any other single question about relationship: When is it time to leave? When is it time to quit?
I am asked: How do I know I am not supposed to be here, learning something? How do I know that this is not all for my own good, my own evolution? How do I know that I am not just "giving up" -- again...?
I am asked: What does it take to make "love" work? And I answer, "Love should not be work. Love should be play. It should feel playful and joyful, not stressful."
The intimate relationships in many people's lives have not been long lasting. Happily Ever After has not been a universal (or even a common) experience. Indeed, it must sometimes seem to many that there is just no way to do this thing called Relationship and do it well.
People look in the mirror and ask, "Is it only me who has not been given the necessary equipment? It is only me who lacks sufficient understanding? It is only me who falls short on willingness or commitment or determination or skill or patience or selflessness or whatever-in-the-world-it-takes to make Happily Ever After work?"
Or is it that human beings are simply chasing an impossible dream? Is The Dream of real and lasting and wonderfully joyful love nothing but a fantasy that can never be fulfilled?
No. I don't believe that. And I believe that people who have tried and tried and failed have, at least, the opportunity to learn from their experience. There is no such thing as a lost cause. Love's Dream can be lived. That is God's promise.
There are couples who have lived it, who have made it to the Promised Land. Some found each other early in life, some found each other later, after much trial and error with others. All has not been perfect on their journey, all has not been smiles and laughter in every moment. But much of it has been. And all of it has been worth it. Every minute has been worth it.
There are those who say you have to "work" at relationship. Anything worth having is worth working for, the mantra goes. Okay. Fair enough. But this should be the kind of "work" that feels soooo good to do. Like Barbra Streisand singing. Like Richard Gere dancing. Like Nancy Kerrigan on ice. Like Anna Pavlova and Vaslav Nijinsky and Mikhail Baryshnikov in ballet shoes. Like Warren Spahn throwing a baseball. Yes, there's work involved...but oh, the joy of it, the sheer joy of it!
Yes, love -- real love, true love, lasting love -- may be "work," but it should be a work of art. It should be something you love to do. A wise person once said, "May you always love the loving you are doing."
Look at your relationship right now. Are you loving the loving you are doing?
If you love the loving you are doing, it is not "work" in the sense of being a struggle. It is a joy. Working to create something is very much different from working to hold something together. Everyone who has done both knows the difference. You can feel the difference, and no one has to tell you what is going on.
It has to do with effort and ease.
You know if, in your relationship, you are at a place of effort or if you are at ease.
Barbra Streisand sings effortlessly. The breathless grace of Nancy Kerrigan is effortless. That is precisely what makes it breathless grace. This is not to say that no "work" went into it. Surely it did. But joy came out of it. Work went in, and joy came out. When work goes in and joy does not come out, then "work" has become "effort."
This is the state of many relationships.
When is enough enough?
That question cannot be answered by anyone other than the person asking it. But the question rarely goes without answer. The issue is not whether the person asking the question knows the answer, but whether the person heeds it.
© 2019 ReCreation Foundation - http://www.cwg.org - Neale Donald Walsch is a modern day spiritual messenger whose words continue to touch the world in profound ways. His With God series of books has been translated into 27 languages, touching millions of lives and inspiring important changes in their day-to-day lives.