Coupling up with someone means having a best friend around 24/7 to offer support, love, and advice. It's a wonderful thing. But even the best partnerships can hit a rough patch. And when that happens, you may ask yourself if there's a way to save your failing relationship.
Sometimes they don't seem salvageable, and that's a scary feeling. Here's this person you spend all your time with — they make you laugh, they listen to your dumb (or not so dumb) problems, and they love you more than anything else. Yet, suddenly, it's all threatening to go up in flames.
It can be tempting in tough times to jump ship, so to speak. And, sadly, this seems to be the go-to response for a lot of people. We toss our partners aside, stalk off into the sunset, and look for people who are easier to deal with. But surprisingly, this doesn't always make life any better.
As Alexandra Harra put it on HuffingtonPost.com, "Nowadays, we believe that people are exchangeable . Quick are we to think, 'He’s no good, I’ll dump him and find someone else.' And quicker are we to find a new lover who displays the exact same — if not worse — tendencies as the one we just left ... If you believe you can sift through people until you find the perfect package, you will remain highly disappointed throughout your relationships."
Of course, some relationships are worth leaving. Obviously if your partner is abusive, or they don't share your ideals, then you should make moves to leave ASAP. But quite often it's worth fixing. So if you'd like to try, then here are some ways to bring your relationship back from the brink.
1. Don't Let Others Influence Your Relationship
When a relationship isn't going well, it's more than natural to run to family, friends, and even randoms at the bar for some advice. And that's fine, because everyone needs a little support — especially if you aren't willing to turn to your partner right away. The problem with outside advice, however, is that none of these people have the full story of your relationship, and are therefore unable to offer a fair perspective.
So yes, it's perfectly fine to vent. Just don't let other people muddle your opinion, get between you and your SO, or cause more problems than before. According to Harra, "Often it is outside voices that seep into our private relationships and brew toxicity. Understand who’s playing a less-than-positive role in your relationship and commit to keeping that person’s energy out. Keep your relationship as private as possible and divulge as little details as you can." It's the best way to keep your thoughts clear, and it will allow you to view your relationship for what it truly is.
2. Stop Blaming Your SO For Your Problems
When things aren't going well, you may start asking yourself questions. Why is life so terrible? Why am I always mad? And oftentimes it's easiest to point a mean finger towards your SO. After all, they are around all the time, so clearly everything must be all their fault. Right?
Well, not necessarily. I can see why it's easy to cast blame. But it's certainly not fair — especially if the blame is misdirected — and it only ends up making your relationship harder. So instead of looking judgmentally at your partner ever time there's a problem, take a second and check yourself.
As Winona Dimeo-Ediger noted on TheFrisky.com, "When you start feeling upset or resentful, stop to ask yourself what’s going on inside of yourself before taking it out on the other person. Seriously, 99 percent of the time your issue isn’t even with your partner; you’re just projecting something onto them." Taking that moment to pause and reflect can help you remain fair and balanced, and prevent a relationship from ending for the wrong reasons.
3. Make Sure You Talk To Each Other
I'm not saying you should hash out problems 24/7. That doesn't make for a very fun, or healthy, relationship. But you should set aside some time to hear each other out, especially when things are going south. That's because listening can do wonders for a relationship, and yet that seems to be the first thing to go when problems arise.
Don't let this be your downfall. Set your temper and judgement aside, and actually have a two-sided conversation for a change. As Harra said, "There is a right way and a wrong way to communicate. The right way is asking your partner a relevant question, listening to their response, then offering your opinion. The wrong way is overwhelming your partner with your irritations and worries as soon as they walk in from a particularly long workday ... Don’t just sound off with your concerns; delve to the core of the matter by drawing your partner into the dialogue first." It may just save your relationship.
4. Don't Skimp On Physical Contact
When you're feeling less-than-thrilled in your relationship, the last thing you should do is cut off physical contact. It may not feel like something you want to do, especially if you just argued or are feeling resentful, but it's absolutely necessary if you want to keep the relationship going.
So get in there and grab a hug or a kiss, and make physical contact an important part of the day. As Dimeo-Ediger noted, "Physical affection is so, so important in any intimate relationship, and in this age of constant distractions, it sometimes takes a concerted effort to make sure it happens frequently and meaningfully. If your partner gives you a hug, take a second to lean into their chest and enjoy that moment. Go to bed 15 minutes earlier (or set your alarm 15 minutes earlier) to give yourselves time to cuddle before you fall asleep or when you first wake up." Taking the time to start and end the day together will help smooth over any bad feelings, and get you two back to feeling loving again.
5. Focus On Each Other's Needs
This can sort of be a "which came first?" scenario. Have you found yourselves in this rough patch due to neglect, or are you neglecting each other due to the rough patch? Either way, it's time to start focusing on each other's needs.
This might mean taking an interest in your SO's hobbies, setting aside time to talk about their day, or helping them through a tough time. Listen to your partner, figure out what they need, and then be more than willing to help. According to Don Olund on Lifehack.org, "Neglect is an awful word in relationships. So is taking your mate for granted. It communicates a negative sentiment. If you want to save a failing relationship you cherish then you need to focus on the needs of your partner." They will appreciate it, and will also be more likely to return the favor.
6. Stop Nitpicking Every Little Thing
Just like with neglect, it's hard to tell if nitpicking is a cause or a result of the problems in your relationship. Couples pick on each other from time to time — and usually it's all in fun — but nitpicking definitely gets out of hand when resentment's afoot. It kind of goes along with blame, as well. You think "I'm unhappy," and then turn to your partner for the reason why.
When this happens, you may find yourself extra angry when the garbage isn't taken out, or when they leave their socks on the floor. Obviously the problem isn't the trash or the socks, but your deep-seated anger, distrust, or annoyance with them.
Try to recognize the feelings behind your nitpicking, and call yourself out on them when they are unwarranted. According to Dimeo-Ediger, "... it’s never too late to change the script: make a vow to never put your partner down — about the way they look, the way they live their lives, their little quirks, anything."
7. Don't Take Everything So Seriously
If you've been going through problems for a while, life can get a bit heavy. Everything is a potential argument, a possible problem, or a cause for concern. Don't let life get this serious. Relationships are supposed to be fun, but if you get bogged down with life's little hassles (or even with way bigger problems), there won't be any room left to enjoy each other.
So take it upon yourself to lighten up, lest you ruin the relationship with your bad attitude. As Kori Ellis noted SheKnows.com, "Lighten up and don't always be so serious. Maybe the reason there is so much tension in your relationship is because you both are making it that way. Learn to laugh again and don't be afraid to make fun of yourself." It'll make for a much happier relationship, which is, after all, the goal.
That's because relationships are wonderful things, and having a partner who loves you makes life extra great. So don't let yours go up in flames, especially over something that's fixable.
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