Relationships are Work

Unpaid, Volunteer Work

Saman Khanzada-Mirza

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Image: Chicago Reader

One morning over breakfast, I was asked by my twenty-something daughter about what makes relationships work?

She is normally never prone to such thought-provoking queries so early in the morning, instead choosing to scroll through her phone or watch an episode of New Girl or Brookyln Nine-Nine as she downs her bowl of cereal in muted silence.

But just the night before she had finished reading Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Keranina and I could see it was playing heavily on her mind. She was clearly intrigued by the complexity of human emotions and behaviours that spill into relationships, so superbly written by Tolstoy into characters in that book.

The relationships in Anna Keranina are all flawed, far from perfect and there is no clear protagonist or antagonist in the story. Instead, each character stumbles through a thought-forest of their own making portraying many of their weaknesses and some of their merits in turn. A beautiful and well written tale of just being human.

So in the spirit of Anna Keranina, I thought I would give her the answer to her question by being open and honest, without hopefully putting her off relationships for life.

I told her to forget about what makes relationships work.

Relationships are work — unpaid, volunteer work.

And at no times has this become more aparant than now in Covid times, when we are forced to spend days and nights in the closed proximity of the four walls of our homes with no where to go to get way from the love of our lives.

But it does not start of that way.

In the begining of a relationship, when you are still in euphoria of discovering each other’s quirks, this work, I told her, will be very interesting. You will want to be in each others company forever. You will feel elated and excited every time you discover something new about each other.

This is the cute and classic rose-tinted eyeglasses phase. Everything is beautiful.

Then you will meet his circle of friends and family and they will present you with another working challenge. Your work load will increase exponentially. You now have to put in extra hours to get to know this…

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Saman Khanzada-Mirza

I love all inspiring and uplifting things — whether as beautiful and profound written words, elating and exhilarating art and design or soulful life experiences