What Does “Work on it” Really Mean?

In my articles, in my sessions, and in speaking about relationships, I use the word “work” a lot. I typically say that any good relationship takes a lot of “hard work.” 

I often go on to say that any relationship that is worth the trouble, takes some amount of trouble.

This, I say, can lead to a more aware, deeper relationship.

And sometimes it doesn’t.

But that doesn’t mean that all that “work” and “trouble” is for naught. Not at all.

Because the real “work” I’m referring to is self-work.


You are making and re-making yourself constantly. Whether it impacts your partner, your kids, your family, your coworkers, is one thing. Whether it truly re-writes your way of thinking and feeling  – is another.

As a therapist I push people. Couples get annoyed sometimes when I push them further and further, seemingly beyond the confines of a small issue. “Can we move on?” they ask. Well, sure. But, preferably, not yet.

Whereas a couple might solve an issue by some sort of compromise, negotiation, kindness or giving in (all worthwhile), it’s my motive to find out what this type of juggling left the person feeling. Because that feeling will come back over and over. So, the “work” I’m talking about is constantly assessing our personal motives, behaviors, and aiming to be better. Softer.

So, no, we’re not done.

We’re never done.

And that’s my point.

When have you ever thought “Oh, now I’ve got all the rules I need to live by?” Hopefully, not since teen-age. Because there are no such “rules”. And if there are, we are taking them on one by one as we experience life. And the deeper we experience life, the more we mine our inner parts, the more likely we are to figure out what we believe in and how to live.

And how to love.

And how to soften.