You don’t just buy a new house when the bathroom gets dirty.
At least, most people don’t. Most people throw on a pair of rubber gloves, grab the bathroom spray, and get to work. In fact, most people see their homes as an investment: they fix the basement, install marble countertops in the kitchen, and plant flowers in the garden every summer.
There is an unspoken understanding that comes with buying a house: this is going to be work, and it is going to be worth it. So you choose the house wisely. You shop around until you find the best one on the market. Then you commit, sign the papers, and the house is yours. You don’t shop endlessly—you don’t spend your life stopping in front of “For Sale” signs and phoning realtors.
And yet, when it comes to human relationships, which perhaps require the most effort and upkeep of all, we expect things to just work. We expect the novelty and joy that we had at the beginning of the relationship to follow us for an eternity. We expect dust to disappear on its own, cracks to fill themselves, and bathrooms to never get dirty. And when this inevitability strikes, we get antsy and disillusioned, wondering where our promising investment went. We start keeping an eye out for “For Sale” signs. We wonder if we even bought the right house. And so it is: monotony, boredom, conflicts, communication barriers. These are the chores, the rooms in the house of our relationship that require regular upkeep.
Maybe you’re thinking, Well jeez, why bother with investing in a relationship if it’s just going to be more work? Well, that’s something you have to answer for yourself. You have to decide if the love, richness, and depth of a committed relationship merits the full spectrum of effort and humanness involved. Passion is not generated by lust and novelty alone—true passion emerges from experiencing every facet of a person, of every emotion that they stir within us. Sometimes there is overwhelming joy; sometimes there is pain and insecurity.
Embracing the many dimensions of love and putting in the effort to bring your original commitment to fruition is the ultimate source of happiness. Otherwise, we are left chasing a mirage, a transient titillation, searching for the deep fulfillment that can only come with effort.
When we knock on the door of happiness, it is effort that answers. Not excitement, entertainment, or novelty.