Saving your relationship isn’t easy, but it can be done!
Every relationship starts off great! Everything is love-O-lee, you’re all kissy faced, blowing bubbles and weak in the knees. And then, all of a sudden months or years go by and you find yourself in a constant war with the one you were once all lovey-dovey with. Having a peaceful conversation seems impossible and agreements have become the way you dialogue about almost anything.
Or the opposite is true, you rarely interact and are basically cellmates sharing what seems like a 6 by 6 square foot house. Well, there might be hope to get your relationship back to a place where it once was or perhaps even better. In this post, I’m going to walk you through 7 steps that I believe will get your relationship back on track and headed in the right direction.
1. Take an Honest Assessment of Your Relationship
So where do we start? Truth is the only foundation strong enough to build a solid relationship on. Being honest with yourself and coming to grips with what you have done (or haven’t done) that has contributed to the current state of the relationship is pop up. It’s so easy to shift all of the blame on the other party and take none for yourself. But, it’s a lot harder to take an honest look at yourself and say that I’ve messed up and in certain areas. Or, I could’ve done or said something different instead of that.
Before you go into details about the areas that you could improve on, I think its best to ask yourself and realistically determine if the relationship is salvageable, do you want to make it work? What would it take to make it work on your part? At this point it has nothing to do with the other person. This is an assessment of yourself, to know if you’re willing to put in the work that it will take to make it work.
Most of the issues that couples have, stem from a lack of connection. Things that are not expressed to their partner create a wedge between even the best couples. These unspoken feelings and thoughts fester and ferment over time causing bickering and drama in the relationship. This is usually the true cause of a couples issues and creates hidden resentment towards each other. The real problem is a lack of transparent communication between both parties.
Taking stock of how you have contributed to the present state of the relationship, then communicating them will lower the defenses of the other person. It allows them to open up and take a look at how they have contributed to the relationship problems also. Now you are able to have a moment of openness. In boxing it’s called being open to a counter. When you throw a punch, you open yourself up to being punched to a greater degree. Usually, couples use this tactic when arguing with each other.
Well, that’s the best way to put your significant other on the defensive and open yourself up for a counter complaint. The next thing you know, you guys are bickering back and forth and nothing productive can happen. So, I advise you to make a list of ways that you have contributed to the problems in your relationship. List them on a notepad, journal or piece of paper. Somewhere where you can reference them from time to time.
What scenario could you have handled better? How can you better handle issues that pop up from time to time? What are the main issues that you have in your relationship? Where and when did things go wrong and why? What things are you most disappointed about in your relationship? Why do you get angry with your spouse so quickly?
2. Putting Pride Aside Keeps the Relationship Alive
Now is the time to put your pride aside and go to your significant other in a sincere way. Now, just because you are ready to work on things, doesn’t mean that they are. So make sure you choose the opportune time. This may take a couple of days of you refusing to go back and forth with them. Eventually they’ll soften up enough to be receptive to a sincere conversation. So be patient and don’t get disheartened if they’re still in a combative mode.
Most partners will try to approach their significant other without taking the time to let the pot cool down. I mean, if you just had an argument earlier today, yesterday, the day before and every day last week. Then, they are still in the foxhole waiting for rounds and bombs to drop. So give it time to simmer down.
Now, when the time is right and they are receptive then go for it. Most people in a bad relationship, will be waiting for the other person to make the first move to change. But excuse me… Ma’am or Sir… Its your relationship too. You’re responsible to try and make it work. Mort Fertel in an interview with Michael Patrick Shiels, on Michigan’s Big Show made a very amazing statement. He said (paraphrasing) “A relationship is totally a function of how both people are contributing to that relationship. If I change the ways that I’m interacting with you, if I change my pattern of behavior, then it’s going to change the nature of the relationship”.
Don’t wait for the other person to change, you change the dynamics to fit your desired end. The only way to do this is to purposefully create change. This starts with you. Trust me it will make a huge difference in the peace and progression of the relationship.
3. What does the ideal Relationship look like?
While having this dialogue, and depending on the receptiveness of your partner, now would be a good time to get an idea of how the relationship looks when functioning at its best. What does that look like? What did it look like in the past? What did it look and feel like when you were in love before? What good memories in the past can you share together? Sometimes this gets lost in the rubble of dissatisfaction. Success is built upon prior successes.
When you’re so used to experiencing bad terms in a relationship, its hard to know how it felt when it was good. So, now is the time to reflect on how things were when the connection was good. Believe it or not, this is a good step to reestablishing the connection that was once there. Every good memory creates a good feeling. Whew… I know The relationship is probably so far from that moment and it probably feels like a dream or a movie you saw. But it’s a good start in the right direction.
Now is the time to write down those things also that connected you in the past. Why did you fall in love in the first place? What about them made you want to be in a relationship with them? What did it feel like when it was all good? What would all good feel like going forward in the relationship? What would it take from both parties to get things back on track?
This will require work on both parts. If you’ve thought about what you could do better and express those things to your partner, then great!
4. Putting it all on the table
This is where the rubber meets the road and the most delicate that you have to be. Proverbs 18:19 says “An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified[protected] city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars”. Sheesh! That’s tough to do, but it can be done. The main focus when laying out your gripes to your partner is to approach it in a way that is relative to the moment. Meaning if you had the previous conversation (the ideal relationship), then this should follow the same positive tone.
“This is what I need from you so that I can contribute my best to our relationship…” Proceed from there, letting them know that everything in the past is now in the past moving forward. You are now working towards the vision that you previously discussed. Tell them about your feelings on issues, but don’t dwell and beat a dead horse. Communicate directly, give them an example and move on. Extend them the same courtesy of expressing the things that truly bothered them as well.
Talking about past offenses has to be done delicately and with efficacy, because if you feel offended, then they’ll feel offended and so forth and so on. The next thing you know, you’re right back where you left off.
5. Decide What can be done to improve the relationship
Next, make an agreement that the things discussed will be worked on by both parties. I love lists and note taking. They help me a lot. It’s something that Ican go back and reference often. Shoot, you can even text it to each other. Text your commitment to each other and title it “my commitment the vision of a better us”. That way you can easily go back and reference it. If you text a lot, save it in your notes.
The key here is to hold each other accountable to the best relationship possible. Don’t get discouraged if they slip up every now and then. This is new and new habits take time and effort to form. Researchers from University College London did a study and determined that it takes between 18 to 256 days to establish a new habit. But on average, it takes about 66 days for most habits to form. So don’t get discouraged with yourself or your partner if somewhere along the way, there’s a slipup.
After you have discussed what your issues are in the relationship, it’s time to talk about how you plan on helping each other break your old habits. Make sure you help each other from a loving place and not a place of anger or frustration. Remember new things take time to develop. What ways will you help your partner become better for you? How long do you think it should take? What are the benefits of developing in the areas of improvement?
Think about it this way, even if it takes a year or three to develop, the pay off over a lifetime is more than worth it.
6. Write it Down, Express it Often
After you guys have made the commitments, make sure you recommit often. I can’t express that enough. It makes all the difference in the world when you can go back and look at something that you said or wrote down. It helps to see your progress and keeps you focused and motivated when you’re tempted to give up on the work. You know exactly whats on the other side of a relationship left to its own devices.
So, make sure that you are communicating often, from a place of love, not of anger. Things will happen in life and in relationships that will make you want to cuss somebody out. But even at your job or church or wherever you associate yourself, you don’t just lash out because of your momentary frustration. You take the time to think about what it means if you lost your association. This to me is the equivalent of writing things down.
Writing things down and what your partner means to you, makes a difference in what you will do to keep them. Expressing these things often helps to keep you mindful of how you want things to be or continue to be. It is a big step to lasting change. When I got married to my wife, I told myself that I would write down why I got married to her.
It took me about a year into our marriage before I actually wrote it down. But I did. The reason why it was important to me was because, I knew that as time went on, things would change. I would change and so would she. But to be able to go back and reconnect with the person I was then and how I felt for her, allows me to keep a similar view of the person I fell in love with.
So write down why you are choosing to make it work. What do you love about them? What did you love about them? What do you appreciate about them? What is your new commitment? Tell yourself and them often!
7. Celebrate Small Improvements
Lastly, celebrate the small progresses in the relationship. Don’t let the complaints outweigh the compliments. Complaints should only be used in conjunction with the things that you appreciate about your partner. Theres no way on earth that you chose someone who does nothing good!! I believe that I know you better than that. You’re a better judge of character than that.
Small victories, lead to larger ones. When you focus on the things that are going right in the relationship, things tend to go right. When you focus on the wrongs of a relationship, well you end up back in the same boat. But I’ll take a happy enjoyable relationship over one that is miserable any day. Ultimately, we get what we focus on.
Getting your relationship back on track will take time, patience and work. It doesn’t just get bad all of a sudden, it took time to get there, so it will take time to get out of it. But make sure that your focus in on what you desire the relationship to be, not what you don’t want it to be. We purchase what we pay attention to… (Get it, Pay atten… Nevermind!). If you have any further questions, leave them in the comment area below, or email us at: contact@Relationshipsandchill.com we’d love to hear from you.
Peace & Blessings
Coach R. Anthony
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