If you?re looking to save your relationship, this is exactly what you should and shouldn?t do.
Photo by Matheus Ferrero on Unsplash
by: E.B. Johnson
No matter how hard we try to make everything perfect, our relationships fail sometimes. As humans, we are complex creatures with a deep well of desires and emotions that drive us and propel us toward the future. It is these same emotions and desires that can sometimes pull us away from the person we love most, or lead to a widening divide that takes time and understanding to heal.
The trial of a splintering relationship is a hard one to navigate. While there are a number of ways to restore the passion that once brought you to your knees, there are also a number of terrible ways to try and fix what?s broken forever. If you want to get your relationship back on track, you have to know how to do it the right way ? and you have to know which pitfalls to avoid. Fix your relationship by skipping out on these critical mistakes, and get back to the love that the two of you once shared.
The relationship break down.
When things get thrown off kilter and our romantic entanglements start to break down, it can be tempting (and easy) to jump into a winner-take-all blame game, but the truth is there are a number of reasons our relationships don?t pan out the way we hoped.Things change over time. Our expectations change, the things we want from ourselves and others change.
Those same changes also take place in our partners, and over time it becomes necessary to stop and reassess who you both are and what direction you?re taking. When our relationships begin to falter, it?s a sign that something is changing that needed to be addressed. Conflict only arises when there?s something to heal. To see that, though, you have to know the signs and know what it takes to piece things back together.
Signs of a broken relationship.
If your relationship is out of whack, there could be a number of factors at play. When the connection we share with our partners begin to unravel, those issues manifest themselves in a number of ways. From a clashing of expectations to a communication breakdown. Things change, but we can fix them with a little understanding and a little know-how.
1. Shifting priorities: As humans, we all have different goals and different priorities in our lives. For some, their focus will forever be on work and advancing themselves in their chosen career. For some, they will forever be chasing the perfect family and that picket fence in the suburbs. We all have our priorities, but it is imperative that those priorities align or compliment one another in order for our relationships to thrive. When priorities become too drastically diverged, it can cause a dramatic rift that cannot be overcome ? try as you might.
2. Trust issues: Loss of trust is one of the most harmful contagions in any relationship and one of the most common reasons we fail to meet eye-to-eye with our partners. Trust issues can stem from many factors, including childhood trauma, but it always results in some unsavory behaviors that can be damaging not only to ourselves but our partners and families as well.
3. Clashing expectations: We change and, as we change, the things we want from life and the people around us change too. The key to happiness is realizing this, and realizing too that everything is impermanent. Almost all misery in our life comes from a failure of expectations, or a refusal to accept things as they are. Everything changes, including our relationships. Nothing is necessarily forever and nothing is ever guaranteed.
4. Growing apart: Sometimes, things just get stale or boring for us and it causes us to pull away from someone that once thrilled us. Obligations distract us and time passes quickly. Once you?ve finished struggling up the hill together there?s barely any time to congratulate one another before you realize you?re no longer standing next to the person you started the journey with. Finding your way back to a mutual connectedness is a process and one that requires you both to start by peeling back some of those new layers you?ve grown over the years.
5. Failure to communicate: Communication is one of the most critical pieces of any successful relationship (and one of the most common reasons they break down). Numerous studies have identified communication as one of the primary reasons couples seek therapy, as well as one of the biggest reasons they seek divorce or separation. The way you communicate with your partner can be one of the biggest indicators of where your partnership is and where it?s going. If you treat one another regularly with contempt, then odds are there?s a poison somewhere that?s eating away at your connection.
The worst ways to save your relationship.
When our relationships begin to unravel, it causes us to panic as we lose that sense of safety and trust we once depended on. Forced into a corner, we can jump to conclusions and make senseless choices that cause further harm to ourselves and the person we share a connection with. If you want to save your marriage or partnership ? there is a right and a wrong way to do it. Avoid these ?fixes? if you want to have any hope of getting things back on track.
Go on an expensive vacation
Some couples decide on grand gestures of romance in order to find their spark again, but reliving a honeymoon will do little to solve deep-seated issues, nor will it ultimately relieve the stress being caused by your conflict. Though a big, romantic getaway might be planned with the best of intentions, it creates high expectations and puts more pressure on the two of you as a couple than is necessary. The fiscal burden of such a move is also likely to cause a lasting and irritating source of argument fuel for days or weeks to come.
Have a child
One of the worst decisions you can make for a failing relationship is the addition of a child. Bringing another life into the world, when your own is a mess, is unfair not only to the child but to yourself. While new life might be a miracle, it is not a fix-all. The never-ending responsibilities that come with caring for a child are sure to overwhelm any ?you-and-me-forever? feelings that come with a new arrival. While coming together to care for a living thing can be an enlightening bonding experience, it?s one that?s best practiced with a rescued fur-baby than a living human being.
When we?re feeling overwhelmed, it?s natural to seek space; this space, however, can be detrimental to our partnerships and relationships. Problems only get resolved when they?re addressed. A continual seeking of space is little more than running from the problems that are tearing your relationships apart. Rather than using distance to avoid conflict, you have to learn to face your challenges together, coming up with the solutions you both need to be happy again.
If you?re a serious couple with serious problems, and you don?t yet share a space ? moving in can be the wrong choice for a number of reasons. While sharing an apartment or home can give you both a trial run (at both conflict and resolution), cohabiting before you?re ready can lead to settling and brewing resentment that undermines the happiness of both partners involved.
The best ways to save your relationship.
In the midst of all this bad, there is a bit of sparkling good news. If your relationship is unraveling, there are a number of concrete steps you can take to get it back on track. While not all relationships and partnerships are meant to last forever, some are. Using these simple techniques will help you both get to the root of your issues, and get to the foundations of what?s worth saving and what isn?t.
1. Make peace with and accept the undesirable elements of your partner.
If you?ve spent any time reading any of my articles on self or love, then you?ll know that the first step in fixing any problem that we have is often acceptance. This is doubly true when it comes to fixing our relationships.
When we commit to loving someone, it has to be completely and without exception. While you may not love the fact that your partner is allergic to cats (making it impossible to ever own a kitten of your own) you have to learn to accept that fact, rather than just begrudgingly moving on.
Failing to accept all facets of our partners, the good and the bad, leads to resentment and an inability to be flexible and understanding with one another. If you want to heal the hurts that are ripping apart the fabric of your love, start with accepting one another as you are ? not as you want the other person to be.
2. Learning to be fluid when it matters.
Couples often split-up because they become polarized in their thinking and are unwilling to appreciate their partner?s viewpoints. For any relationship to truly succeed, it is necessary to adopt a more flexible approach and be subjective in the way we view our partners beliefs.
When spouses or partners perceive things differently, it can feel threatening or invalidating. In the honeymoon phase, we try to mask these differences by camouflaging them or paving over them all-together, in an effort to make things ?work? whatever the cost.
Being in long term relationships have a funny way of bringing those things to the surface, though, and when they do come up we have to work hard to open our minds and be accepting of ? rather than threatened by ? these differences in attitude or perspective. A shift in our partner is not a betrayal. It?s life. Accept them for who they are and make an honest effort to adjust when things change.
3. A showing of genuine interest.
The longer we spend with someone, the better we think we know them. When we get too comfortable, we go on autopilot, and when that happens we can forget to show genuine interest in our partners and the things that are important to them.
Whether or not you have a lot of common interests and concerns, you have to deepen your friendship by cultivating an interest in the interests of the people we love. Regularly enquiring into their lives and the things that make them tick takes effort, but it?s also an expression of love and commitment.
Make it a point to ask your partner about their life, their hopes and their dreams and you might just be surprised at what you uncover along the way.
4. Genuine displays of affection.
If you love someone you have to show it. Too often, we forget about the power of a genuine display of affection, but it?s one of the most powerful tools we have in fixing a broken relationship.
Think back to those compellingly romantic first moments in your relationship; remember the butterflies and the way they made you feel. While you may never be able to recapture the exact power of those feelings, you can recapture a piece of it, by talking openly with your partner and expressing your love through small, authentic displays of affection.
When life gets busy, we can sometimes forget to let people know that we love them, but it?s important. Don?t assume your partner knows how much you care for them; show them every day by telling them and showing them how much you care.
5. Bring back that childlike wonder.
There are all types of ways to refresh that childlike wonder in our relationships, but it requires us to get creative about how we address our romantic woes.
Reinvigorating a relationship sometimes takes a drastic move like planning a romantic vacation or scheduling regular date babysitters and date nights. It can be as simple as getting out into nature, though, or spending time just discussing your dreams and all the things you two want to accomplish with your lives.
Think back to the joyful things you did during your courtship and consider the things about your partner that caused you to cement your commitment to them. Were there exciting activities that you two once engaged in? The more positive things you share, the more it will light up the love the two of you share.
6. Respecting boundaries.
What boundaries do you set with your partner? What boundaries do they have with you? If you have trouble answering one or both of those questions, chances are there is a serious imbalance in your relationship that needs to be corrected.
Our boundaries and our limitations are the indications we set of what we will and will not tolerate. They are a manifestation of our self-worth, and without them we create adversity in our life that is damaging. For us to feel comfortable in our relationships, our boundaries (as well as those of our partners) need to be clearly defined.These borders indicate everything from what you see as appropriate behavior in your partner to how much privacy you require for your own mental wellbeing.
Get familiar with your owns needs and limitations as well as your partners, and work hard to negotiate agreeable compromises where those things just don?t meet up. If you come from the mindset that solutions exist for all these problems, you?ll find them?but you?re going to have to do a little digging.
7. Stop arguing over money and start talking about it.
Every couple disagrees over money at some point, but that can be avoided by adopting an open an honest attitude about the whole thing from the jump.
We?re all concerned with things like our earnings, investment and debts, but subjects like accumulating wealth and dealing with debt are hard.
Get your ideals on the same page first. While the goals you have financially may never meet up, it?s possible to find a middle ground. You have to reach a place where you?re both willing to accommodate each other?s preferences with entirely sacrificing one side or the other. If there?s debt, be honest about it, and don?t try to gloss over the facts just because you wish they were better.
8. Break out of the isolation.
The pursue-withdraw pattern is a very real thing and one that can be toxic to the longterm health of even the healthiest relationship. This happens when one partner clings tightly to the other or when both partners want closeness and connection but there?s a perceived disconnection somewhere in the middle. One half of the equation starts to believe their needs aren?t going to be met, so they pull away because it feels safer than being let down.
They might also complain or push for more connection, but that doesn?t work unless both parties are aware and onboard for change. Withdrawing in our relationships or withdrawing into our relationships is a sure-fire way to lose ourselves and the authentic truths that define who we are at our core. It undermines the trust and security that we seek in a relationship and it undermines the trust and security we find in ourselves.This pattern is a universal torture technique and the only way to break it is to be blunt and be brutal about what your problems are and what?s causing them.
Resolving this isolation problem comes down to having a frank conversation. You have to address your behaviors, as well as the behaviors, views, reactive emotions and basic needs and longings of your partner. Sometimes, just having the conversation allows the change to be facilitated. You have to be honest about your needs as well as the needs of your partner as well. Companionship is a constant give and take, and you have to play on both sides of the field, not just one.
9. Satisfy your sexual needs.
It?s an uncomfortable topic for a lot of us raised in the cast-off worlds of the Puritans, but satisfying our sexual needs is critical in any romantic relationship.
The only way to deal with issues of sex is frank conversation. Talk about your fantasies and what you need to feel fulfilled in the bedroom. If you need your partner to take charge more often ? tell them so.
Don?t be afraid to ask for what you want and don?t be afraid to give in either. Like love, sex is a give and a take. Learn how to enjoy both. If you?re struggling with intimacy, take some time to get to the root of your own issues and address what it is that?s holding you back from connecting with your partner on a truly intimate level. Sex isn?t everything, but deep and meaningful connection is. Find the line that works for you.
10. Resolution and forgiveness.
How much have you actually endeavoured to resolve and forgive past hurts? Odds are, not as much as you think you have. More often than not, a breakdown in our relationship is the result of a failure to resolve a previous hurt, misunderstanding or injury. If past conflicts haven?t been fully worked through, those wounds can stay open for a long time; festering and bleeding until they become something toxic to your relationship.
Let go of grudges and recognize the importance of reviewing past disappointments with a critical eye. In retrospect, the hurts inflicted by our partners are more often caused by misunderstandings than actual maliciousness, but we need time and space to recognize and accept that.
Forgive your partner for their missteps and acknowledge that they are human ? just as you are ? and capable of all the foibles entailed with that mortality. If something they did continues to peeve you off over time, bring it up with them, and don?t be afraid to as accepting of your own reactions as you are of theirs.
Putting it all together?
When our relationships begin to fail, it is us up to us to take the initiative to save them. While there are a number of great ways to reconnect with the person you love, there are a number of horrible fix-all solutions that are guaranteed to create more conflict and heartbreak at home. If you?ve run into troubled waters with your partner or spouse, avoid compounding those problems by adding children, making expensive decisions or running from the conflict that must be resolved before healing can set in.
Come together again by making peace with what is and accepting one another as you are. Learn to be fluid when it matters and show a genuine interest in your partner and who they are and where they?re at. Bring back that affection that you once shared and try to uncover that childhood sense of wonder that once drew you together. Though things and people change, we can find our love again by respecting boundaries, being honest and open with one another about what we need emotionally and sexually, and learning how to resolve our conflicts like the adults and lovers that we are.