How To Save Your Relationship, According To An Expert
Sometimes a relationship needs saving. Whether it's because someone strayed, the couple lost their focus, or somewhere along the line the relationship got stale, saving a relationship can become necessary. Especially if the two people involved know that ending it isn't the best option — and in some cases it isn't.
When it comes to saving a relationship, according to findings by Google, people turn to their search engine for answers. In 2017, of all the relationship-related questions that were plugged into Google, "how to save your relationship" was number five on the list of the top 10, so it's definitely something people in relationships are curious about or experiencing.
While some relationships should definitely end, others shouldn't just be rescued, but fought for. Romantic relationships take work and sometimes when one person — or both people — haven't been putting in the work, it'll take some effort to bring things back if that's what both of you want. And if you do, you'll want to kick things off with a positive attitude.
"It’s so easy to slip into a negative mindset, where all we see are the things that our partner isn’t doing versus what they are doing," Anita A. Chlipala, LMFT, and author of First Comes Us: The Busy Couple's Guide to Lasting Love, tells Bustle. "Have a surplus of positive interactions with your partner. Any uplifting words or actions can start a positive cycle. Acknowledge each other’s efforts, joke around, compliment often, and show appreciation."
So since the question is being asked a lot and is clearly on many people's minds, here are nine ways to save your relationship.
1. Compare Your Love Languages
There are five love languages: quality time, words of affirmation, physical touch, acts of service, and receiving gifts. We all have a love language and it's important to be aware of which love language both you and your partner speak, so as to understand how you both give and interpret love.
"When the couples I work with report feeling disconnected, I have them take The 5 Love Languages quiz," Chlipala says. "If you have opposite or different love languages, it can account for not feeling loved by your partner. After discussing the love languages, pick your top two and discuss concrete ways you can both meet these ways you need to feel loved."
2. Identify Your Top Needs
We all have needs. Not just needs for ourselves, but for our relationship. Because of this we need to establish what those needs are, so we can share these needs with our partner.
"Along similar lines of the love languages, sometimes people are unhappy because their needs aren’t being met," says Chlipala. "These could be relationship needs, life needs, or both. Think about the things in your relationship that make you happy, or think about what’s been missing. Discuss concrete ways you can meet each other’s needs and how you can support other needs if they don’t relate to the relationship."
3. Nurture Your Friendship
What makes a great relationship is when the two people are both lovers and friends. A true partnership has both of these things.
"The quality of a couple’s friendship affects many aspects of a relationship —their connection, sense of safety and trust, satisfaction, and overall positivity about each other and their relationship," says Clipala.
4. Make Time For Each Other
Between working all the time, social obligations, and the fact that most of us are in serious relationships with our phones, we sometimes forget about what really matters: our partner.
"Between balancing work, raising children, technology distractions and daily life craziness, it can be tough to make your partner a priority, but it doesn’t have to take a lot of time," says Chlipala. "Have dates where you focus on each other or show genuine interest in each other’s day and likes."
5. Do Novel Things Together
When you've been together for a long time, keeping things invigorated takes extra effort. It also means taking things up several notches on date night. It's these dates that feel like little adventures that will make a huge difference in how you feel about each other and how you feel about relationships.
"Feelings of infatuation fade, on average, between 12-18 months. But this doesn’t mean it has to be dead forever," says Chlipala. "Doing new and different things can help trigger and sustain feelings of romance. Explore a different part of the city, have a surprise weekend outing or take a class together. Little things can invigorate your passion and couples who do thrilling things together feel more satisfied in their relationship."
6. Ask What You Can Do To Make Things Easier For Them
As much as you might not like the answer, ask your partner what you do that drives them nuts. We all have negative qualities, so it's nothing to feel bad about — it could be what improves your relationship.
"Ask your partner, 'What kinds of things do I do that annoy you, and what kinds of behaviors do you think I should stop or modify?' Some people are conflict avoidant and let anger and resentment build without giving their partner a chance to address their behavior," says Chlipala. "This can affect relationship happiness. If you let your partner know what behaviors bother you and they make modifications, it will help with thinking your relationship can be saved."
7. Touch More
Multiple studies have found that touching your partner is paramount to a happy relationship — and I'm not just talking about sex. Even just cuddling is enough to get that oxytocin going, which strengthens your bond, reduces stresses, lowers blood pressure, reduces pain, and even boosts your immune system. You know, all that important stuff that will keep you feeling physically and mentally on the up and up.
"There are many benefits to physical touch, including increasing trust, and attachment between partners," says Chlipala. "Make it a point to hold hands, cuddle, and have more sex. You’ll feel closer to your partner."
8. Accept What You Can't Change
You shouldn't try to change your partner. Learn to take the good with the bad, accept and work with what you can't change, and be able to see exactly what it is you're fighting to save.
"Couples can make their relationships worse by fighting over the same topic," says Chlipala. "Perpetual issues are problems that all couples have because they're rooted in differences in personality, lifestyle, childhood, life experiences, etc. These types of problems — anything from being chronically late versus punctual, organized versus messy, extroverted versus introverted, having differences in sex drive — need to be managed and not solved. Why? Because they're not going to go away. There's nothing wrong with your partner and the way he or she feels is not wrong or worse, it's just different. Honoring each other's uniqueness and finding common ground and being able to negotiate your differences can help strengthen a relationship."
9. Go To Couples Therapy
The most obvious way to save your relationship? Consider professional help. Couples therapy can really help you and your partner get to the bottom of things and open your eyes to issues that you may not have even considered. Therapy truly does wonders and if you value what you have and want to save it, then definitely look into couples therapy.
If you want to save your relationship, it's going to take work. But, as with all things that we give our 100 percent, the results will be worth it.: You will have rescued something that's clearly important to both you and your partner.