True love: It's the worst sometimes — especially when you're struggling through a particularly rough patch. If that's your current situation, relationship hacks for struggling couples might help you get back to that place where you spend more time being happy than miserable when you're together. Because relationships are supposed to add value to your life, even if you're not happy all the time. Being stuck in relationship limbo isn't really adding value. It just pretty much sucks.
The crappy thing about rough patches is that, as much as they suck, it sucks worse to do all that emotional digging, admit the hard truths, and do the arguing (I mean, discussing) that it takes to fix things. If that's you, or if you ever hear yourself saying things like "I'm not going to say anything because I don't want to start a fight," then you're really just doing yourself a disservice. During my time as a Domestic Violence Victim Advocate and Planned Parenthood Certified Responsible Sexuality Educator, I learned that even though it might seem easier, the path of least resistance is actually littered with resentment, anger, sadness and distance. It only makes things worse. It's better to put on your big kid pants and dive in, so you can resolve things once and for all.
1. Figure It Out
You might be lucky enough to know the exact reason why your relationship is struggling, like maybe someone cheated to told a specific, damaging lie. If you do, that's actually a positive, because you have a starting point. If you don't know why things are deteriorating, you can't really make a plan to fix them. You have to be honest with yourself and each other and get to the heart of what's wrong. This step is hard and requires facing some deep truths that might hurt. It must be done.
2. Take Out The Trash
If you're having problems, you're probably doing some crappy stuff and your partner's probably doing some crappy stuff, and everybody feels crappy. Time to knock it off. If you're being passive-aggressive because you have hurt feelings, you have to stop it, and start being more direct. If you always have an attitude when it's time to talk, you need to check yourself. Things are not going to get better if both of you spend all your time fueling the negativity. Set ground rules, if you must, for respect.
3. Walk It Out. Or Write It.
Since communicating your feelings is the heart of the whole relationship thing, you have to make a way for you to do that productively. It seems childish, but you can set aside certain times to be heard. For example, go for a walk together, where one person gets to talk, uninterrupted, and the other person has to just listen until you get you your destination. The other person gets their turn on the way back. If that's too much, you can take turns passing a journal back and forth. The idea is that you both get a chance to express yourselves without things turning into an argument. Sometimes just getting your feelings out has a huge impact on your relationship troubles.
4. Make The Hard Choices
At some point, you have to say to your partner, "look, we need to get past this." If you're upset over a fight you had, and you've all ready hashed things out, but they're still tense, sometimes enough just has to be enough. You have to agree to try to let it go. To stop rehashing it. to stop blaming. To stop arguing. If you can't do that, you may need therapy, or even time apart.
4. Do Something Fun
Shared experiences bring people closer together. They let you escape reality, relax, recharge, and let off some steam. I'm not saying doing something fun will solve all your problems and make everything OK again, but I am saying that it can help. It might stir up feelings that remind you of happy times, and what you love about each other. At the very least, it you'll have some fun.
5. Chart The Course
What are your goals? Are you still headed in the same direction? Or is everything changing? If you're having difficulties getting and staying on the same page, it might be worth it to so some goal setting together, and individually, to see where you're both at. Sometimes your goals don't necessarily include each other, and that's a tough pill to swallow, but it's better to face that now than when it's too late to adjust your sails (if that's what you want to do.)
6. Build Each Other Up
There was a time when you used to make each other feel good all the time, or at least on the regular. If you're struggling, odds are, you're not feeling so good about yourself or your relationship any more. Taking some time out of each day to express your gratitude, to give compliments, and to thanks your partner for the positive things they do helps to remind you why you fell in love in the first place.
7. Talk With A Counselor
You don't necessarily have to go all the time, or forever, though it might be helpful, but a counselor can help you identify unhealthy patterns in your relationship. They can help you get through issues you can't get past. They can give you tools and exercises to help you build a stronger relationship. They can also just serve as a neutral listening ear to help you vent. Try going together, and alone, so you can work through your "us" stuff and your "me" stuff.
These hacks are hard. Sometimes they're painful. But it's often through the hard times that we learn the most about what we want.