Growing up, I’m sure we all have experienced tough love at some point. Whether it’s obvious or not, when applied correctly to a child, discipline is instilled and lessons are learnt. But as we enter adulthood, the idea of discipline and enforcing tough love into our relationships seems pointless and at times, condescending.

If we use this method to help our children, younger siblings and family members, why shouldn’t we apply this tool when it comes to our relationships, which at times, are in dire need of some tough loving?

It could be bad social behaviour, a lack of respect or a tendency to lie, but often we find it too difficult to tell those we love hard truths. It’s true that love can easily blind us to our other half’s flaws, but in some cases others may feel that doing this will push their husband/wife or boyfriend/girlfriend further away and ignite an unneeded fight. So instead, we succumb to soft-touch love – the complete opposite of tough love.

Eleanor Bailey wrote:

It’s easy to get entrenched in soft-touch love. After all, at the beginning of a relationship, the fact that your partner behaves like a spoilt three-year-old is overshadowed by the good stuff that you fell in love with.

Culturally speaking there is a hierarchy in terms of gender when it comes to Asian families with men sitting proudly at the top. Women who are still expected to maintain some traditional values are still strongly seen as the homemaker. To pull your husband down a peg or two in some families would be completely unacceptable and would go against the role in which you are expected to adhere to.

By ignoring bad behaviour and not properly snipping it in the bud, not only are you validating it, the impression you’re giving suggests that you’re willing to condone it should it occur again.

Why relationships need tough love

So how do you enforce tough love measures? For starters, don’t fall for the victim story. A sob story is a manipulative way of trying to get negative attention. Instead, establishing healthy boundaries can begin to help an individual.

With tough love, there is always a lesson that will be learned, and unfortunately it is learned the hard way… The dependent one is shown that he needs to take charge of his own life. Tough love can be “sink or swim” and a heart-wrenching situation to endure.

The problem is, we tend to resort to this action when it’s too late. When we have endured enough heartache or when a relationship has ended.

Exerting harsh actions can actually help individuals. Having revealed the true extent of someone’s lies and secrets to their loved ones and stepping away, I was ultimately deemed vengeful by that person and I expected that.

But if it puts them in the perfect position to change, then I reckon those bold actions show more strength and love than any domestic goddess who’s happy to condone such destructive behaviour.