7 Ways To Postpone Your Relationship's Expiration Date
If you're lucky, you will find yourself in a relationship with a very long shelf life. But the reality is, a lot of relationships have an expiration date whether it be from difficult circumstances or the basic fact that you're just not compatible with each other. But if you feel like you're with "The One" and you really want your relationship to work, there are ways you can postpone your relationship's expiration date or forget about it completely.
"A relationship that has an expiration date looks differently depending on the the couple, but the biggest indicator is that the dynamic between the couple has shifted in a negative manner," Rachel Moss, dating and relationship coach, tells Bustle. For instance, one partner may start to get irritated by the small things they used to love about the other. Or what used to be bickering here and there has turned into huge fights that go on for days. "Regardless of the specifics, there is often increased tension, conflict, or avoidance and decreased communication with one another," she says.
Before you even think about finding ways to bring your relationship back from that negative space, it's important to get real about why you want to in the first place. "Sometimes we hold on to relationships because of fear and that’s a never a good reason to stay in something that’s not working well," Kerri-Anne Brown, LMHC, relationship expert and founder of Healing with Wisdom, tells Bustle. "But if fear isn’t your only reason and you have a desire to make things work, there are things you can do to save it." So here are some ways to postpone your relationship's expiration date, according to experts.
1. Make A Commitment To Work On The Relationship
"If both partners can commit to the necessary changes for improvement, the relationship has a chance of survival and even possibly thriving," Brown says. If there's an expiration date on your relationship, something clearly hasn't been working. If that's the case, just know it's going to take a lot of work. You both need to be committed enough to put in the effort if you really want to see positive changes in your relationship.
2. For Every Reason To Separate, Find A Reason To Stay Together
Think about what made you fall in love with your partner in the first place. Remember the special moments when your partner made you feel loved and cared for. You can even try visualizing your life without your partner and see how that makes you feel. "When couples are angry, they think separation is the answer which only creates a new set of problems," couples therapist, Mindy Utay, LCSW, tells Bustle. "Don’t act from anger before thinking clearly about what a separation looks like from the other side."
3. Be Aware Of How You Communicate During Conflicts
Fighting can turn pretty ugly if you're not careful. If something said is taken the wrong way, it can make one partner feel rejected, unloved, and sometimes even abandoned. But as couples therapist, Brittainy Wagner, tells Bustle, if you can recognize that the things you say in the heat of the moment can further damage your relationship, you'll be more careful with your words. From there, it's easier to communicate to your partner with empathy, compassion, curiosity, and an open mind. "This is how we can begin healing from past hurts in a relationship that is heading for a breakup," she says.
4. Let The Past Go And Focus On Moving Forward
Communication is key, but it's especially important when your relationship is headed for its expiration date. As Dr. Lori Whatley, licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle, "Making sure you two are sitting down and engaging in difficult but helpful conversations will make your connection better." Most importantly, keep those conversations moving forward toward the future. Don't keep revisiting the same tired issues. "Holding on to past problems and constantly bringing them up is not productive in order to foster a loving and secure relationship," she says. Be willing to let go of the past and move forward.
5. Work On Yourself
It’s easy to blame your partner for everything that's going wrong in the relationship. But no one's completely at fault for the breaking down of a relationship. While you can't control your partner's actions, you can take care of yourself. "If you are finding that your relationship might be falling apart, your best chances of saving it, are to work on the one thing that you can control and that is yourself," Connie Omari, LPC, clinician and owner of Tech Talk Therapy, tells Bustle. Do things that make you feel happy and more balanced like exercising, meditating, or reading a book. While Omari says this does not imply that you need to change for your partner, it serves as a reminder that you are responsible for yourself. "When we make better choices in our own lives, we typically reap better rewards elsewhere," she says.
6. Swallow Your Pride
Pride and ego can get you into a lot of trouble. According to Omari, protecting your pride can prevent you from having the open and honest conversations that need to happen. "If you want to save your relationship, the best strategy is to swallow your pride and let your partner know how you feel about the relationship," she says. Relationships require a certain level of vulnerability in order to be healthy. According to her, many relationships fail because partners are not willing to be honest with one another due to fear of being hurt or rejected. The only true way to let your partner know how you feel is to tell them, so don't be afraid to open up.
7. Be Open To Seeking Outside Help
"If your relationship is on the verge of breaking, you have nothing to lose by trying to exhaust all of your resources to save it and that includes counseling," Omari says. It may not be for everyone, but it's worth a try. Sometimes talking to an outside third party can help you have those difficult conversations that you've been trying to avoid.
Sometimes, relationships have expiration dates for a reason. For instance, if you've communicated your issues and things still haven't been working out, maybe it really isn't meant to be. But if you're both still willing to stick it out and you put in the effort to change, you can have a relationship that lasts.