Tough love is just common to familial and friendly relationships because to those kinds, it’s normal. It’s normal if you don’t want your best friend to exceed three cigarettes a day or else you’ll throw all her packs to the garbage. It’s normal if you confiscate your son’s phone if you notice he has been procrastinating on doing his projects, or if you surrender your teenage daughter to the police after she has shoplifted (woah, that’s really tough). And you do all these out of love. Real love. You are after their welfare. You just want them to be better persons.
But what if we practice tough love in a romantic relationship?
Let’s be honest, we all find it difficult. We’re scared of tough love because we’re scared to lose our better half from setting boundaries and imposing principles. We’re scared to be disciplined and vice versa, because we feel like it’s not the roles we play as lovers. But tough love can be a catalyst of change in relationships nowadays. It can set short-term relationships to forever or mold them into mature ones because of the benefits it gives. It just takes proper art of practicing it.
Here are the five benefits of tough love in a romantic relationship:
1. You subtly remind each other of self-worth.
When you’re both vocal about the should-do’s and should-be’s in your relationship, you remind each other that you both deserve respect no matter how intimate you’ve become. When you tell each other of the personal desires that you want to work out in the relationship, you are showing confidence that you’re capable of understanding each other. For instance, if you’re the girl and you want to ask your partner to do the laundry every Saturday and Sunday, then tell him. If you’re the boy and you want to remind your girlfriend to lessen her expenses then don’t hesitate to speak with her about it.
The hard part here is that you may not agree with your expressed wants and needs because they might seem too much or insignificant for either of you. But the key here is proper communication. You should both try your best to accommodate each other’s desire. Later on, you will see how it will benefit to both of you and filter out those that are unimportant. Expressing your desires even if it takes a lot of courage will magnify both your worth just right.
2. You also become best friends, not just cheesy lovers.
A best friend with a tough love is someone who can discipline you, or even harshly tell you that you’re doing awful in life lately. When you treat each other this way, you get the benefit of not being too cloying. I mean, seriously, oftentimes couples just become too nice and sweet to each other and overtime, they get fed up which leads to ending the relationship. But when you act also as best friends with tough love, you prove that you are observant of each other’s life and not just too focused on your intimacy. You are concerned with your outside lives apart from that one that you share so you can make each other better individuals.
In order for you to experience this benefit, you have to be supportive of each other vigilantly so that you will be notified whether the decisions you make in life can help you thrive. It might seem harsh to be to frank to your partner but being tough best friends can make you better lovers because you brave being truthful for the sake of wisdom. With this, you go extra mile. You go beyond being mere couples. You become a team.
3. You learn about practical necessities from each other.
The idea of practical necessities here pertains to what you just need in order to survive with what you both have as resources. Tough love is applied in this aspect by saying no to your partner when you need to, even if it could make them sulk or mad at you. When they want to get another credit card for no important reason then you have to be tough enough to say no and be firm that you have just enough for what you need. Or, when they always want to use the car whenever you both go to work, you might want to suggest taking public transportation sometimes because you also need to hone your commuting skills. Ah! What an adventure, isn’t it?
When you don’t indulge each other too much, then it wouldn’t take long before you can finally settle down. Because in this case, you have learned to be practical and experienced life within the normal or tightest means. Tough love here aims for both of you to experience a little hardship and self-depriving because not all the time you will have a large amount of resources.
4. You widen your understanding.
Of course, when you show each other the tough love, you practice empathy and open-mindedness. You get to learn to accept that you are not always right and you don’t do good all the time. When your partner reprimands you it’s really difficult to initially understand and your natural response is a silent treatment or even a threat that you’re going to find someone better (that’s so childish). But then again, with proper communication, you can practice that tough love that is not prone to violent reactions. As partners, you really have to be open-minded and lessen that selfishness. You loved each other not for personal gratification but for the expression of love itself; otherwise, that’s narcissism.
5. You exercise the real sense of unconditional love.
I am a firm believer that real unconditional love does not mean overlooking the wrong things your partner does or possesses. Instead, you stare right at those errors and correct them—with love. You confront them. You save them from the peril those wrong things can cause. It does not mean you’ll lessen your love for them if they don’t change, or you’ll love them more if they get rid of those imperfections. It rather means that you want them to experience a better life from being a better person.
You can show this kind of tough love by making them aware of what they could change or what they must stop doing and what to start doing. And no, you don’t do it by forcing them. You just need to artfully instill in them that they have rooms for improvements. Speak up. You need to offer them that chance that both of you can grab to improve. You need to show them you are also in need of their help by gently confronting you. You need to convince them to practice that tough love in order for you to build a better future with a stronger relationship.