5 Ways You Can (try to) Save a Failing Relationship
We shouldn’t throw something away without first trying everything to fix it.
First, some good news.
The divorce rate in the United States recently hit a 50 year low.
Yet, if we look around, it seems like so many are struggling to keep the love and romance alive for the long term. You may even be feeling the tension yourself, particularly in a new world when partners are spending more time together than ever due to the pandemic and so many things being closed.
If you’re feeling the strain on your relationship, here are some things you can do before throwing in the towel:
*Disclaimer: If there is ANY sign of physical or emotional abuse in your relationship, under no circumstances should you try to “fix” it or stay with your partner a moment longer. These points apply only to consensual adult relationships where both partners are willingly committed to each other.
Remind yourselves why you’re together in the first place.
This happens often in careers, but can also be the case in relationships. We’ve gone so far down a road for so many years that it’s easy to lose sight of why we began down this path in the first place.
What are all of the small things that lit you on fire about this person when you met? What attracted you to them over everyone else you’d ever been with? What was it that made them the one?
Write down a list of the things you love and cherish about each other, and then share them. Go into separate rooms and read what your loved one has to say about you — and then reflect — are you still putting in the same effort you did back then? We all change over the years, but has your change been intentional (positive), or reactive (negative)?
Reminding ourselves (and our partner) why we chose this relationship in the first place can spark intimate conversations or experiences that have fallen by the wayside for far too long.
Clearly communicate with intention.
This doesn’t mean just to sit down and have a conversation. You do that every day, and it isn’t helping.
The key words here are clearly and intention.
I am vehemently supportive of open and honest sharing and communicating at all times in a relationship, sometimes to a fault.
But, I believe that a sign of trust and security with our partner is the willingness to open up without fear of being judged.
When you’re trying to save a sinking ship, you don’t ignore the fact that it’s sinking and just hope that it stops. The same goes for a relationship in turmoil: You must be willing to lay the cards on the table.
What has you feeling frustrated? What are your deepest concerns about your future together? And yes: What pieces of this do you take responsibility for?
Intentional communication is not simply airing grievances, it is sitting down to search for a solution. Going down the path you’ve been on clearly means the eventual demise of the relationship, so what is there to lose?
Furthermore, there may be things that are said during this conversation that your partner had no idea were bothering you. They cannot be faulted for making decisions based on missing information, and neither can you.
Seek professional guidance.
I am not a licensed therapist or counselor, but I have coached couples together who were able to have massive breakthroughs during calls when they opened up about challenges from simply being asked the right questions.
Often times when we are on the inside of (any type) of situation, it’s difficult to step back and remove ourselves to see it more clearly.
A marriage counselor, mediator, or coach, has the professional knowledge and experience to help the conversation flow in a productive and progressive direction. Plus, an unbiased third party has the freedom to observe and comment from an objective viewpoint.
The key to this, of course, is that both partners in the relationship agree to let down their defenses and participate fully in the conversations.
There’s an interesting trend you’ll notice when you talk to people about their breakups or divorces: It was always the other person’s fault.
The fact is that relationships are a two-way street, and (unless there is abuse or extenuating circumstances), both parties carry the responsibility to nurture and support the connection.
Accepting responsibility is powerful and sends a message of personal accountability. Sometimes, an apology for something, no matter how long ago it happened, is exactly what is needed to break the dam loose and begin a flood of healing discussion that allows an open wound to close.
Understand when it’s time to let go.
A great relationship is always worth fighting for, but if you’re the only one fighting, it’s not a great relationship.
The hard truth is that sometimes a person’s feelings fade, or so much damage has been done that it feels impossible to recover from.
I believe that if you are the only one trying, the only one loving, the only one apologizing, the only one putting in effort…you also need to be the one who draws the line in the sand and remember who you are and what you deserve in life and love.
We often associate strength with holding on, but sometimes, it means letting go of what we know can’t be fixed.
What are some other methods you’ve used in the past to keep the love and light alive? Let me know in the comments!