Generally speaking, relationships should be easy.
Now, I don't mean you will never have to put in effort, or that things can always be smooth and conflict-free, or that there aren't going to be speedbumps and detours and challenges in any significant Relationship. It would be unrealistic to suggest that. Humans are complicated and messy and relationships necessarily grow and change over time, which can be difficult to navigate on occasion.
Key words: on occasion.
*In general*, I think it should feel pretty easy to be with and connect with someone you're in a significant Relationship with. I mean this in a "easy like Sunday morning" kind of way. In a "I can easily understand what you're trying to say to me" kind of way. In a "it is easy for me to remember why I love you". In a "you easily make me feel seen and valued in a way that I can equally easily receive".
I think it is reasonable to expect that *more often than not* there should be a sense of ease to the connection. I think a lot of us waste a great deal of time and energy in relationships that do not provide us with this sense of ease, and which actually more often add stress and undue frustration to our lives. I would invite you to consider the value in languishing in a relationship that feels like a lot of hard work all the time. I just don't think it's necessary or healthy or likely to provide longterm, sustainable happiness.
If you feel like it constantly costs you a great deal of energy to make yourself seen or understood by your partner, it might behoove you to ask yourself in a very serious way if this is the right relationship for you. If you feel that it's like navigating a veritable minefield to communicate what should be a relatively straightforward need or want to your partner, it might be a good idea to consider that perhaps you are not well-suited for one another. (Or at the very least that you might need to seek some kind of outside help to learn how to talk to each other in a way that doesn't feel so difficult.)
I'm not at all saying you should give up on a challenging relationship without making concerted effort, especially if it's a longterm relationship or if you have children together or have committed your lives to one another in marriage. And I am quite sure there are many people who are perfectly content with their relationships just as they are, easy or not. A lot of people will never even consider that maybe they should not be with this person. I'm not advocating we all get divorced at the first sign of trouble.
But...if you're not partnered, or if you're in a casual dating situation and considering whether to take it further, or if you are open to taking a real inventory of your current Relationship, I am gently suggesting that when you're in the right relationship, you will find that you simply breathe easily. You can communicate easily. The other person speaks your language and *sees* you clearly. There is a naturalness, a flow, *an ease* to the connection. Conflict is done well and with respect. There is a fundamental kindness to every interaction.
If you're interested in such things, the ones hallmarked with this ease are the kind of relationships that will sustain you and meet your need to connect deeply. These are the sort of relationships that will allow you to be your most authentic selves and to be vulnerable and intimate in a profound way. Relationships rooted in ease of connection will naturally allow for each of you to grow and change. My advice for the new year would be to pay attention to where and when and with whom you feel easily connected, and to prioritize that feeling. Seek it out. Find people who feel easy to be with and stick with them. They're your people.