Most people believe that a relationship is either on or off, but is that true?
There are points in every relationship where it steadily trundles along with not a lot happening. Although everything is fine, we can sometimes think that the relationship being in this mode is not ok; that it’s boring and unexciting. Do you want to save your relationship?
Social media can lead you to these negative thoughts, with just a quick browse of instagram you are presented with a stream of photos depicting people in relationships having the most amazing and exciting time. The truth is that most people only shout about the good stuff going on.
Thinking that you are either in or out of a relationship can be very destructive. You really should see periods of “maintenance” as normal.
Are relationships discarded too quickly?
These days, society is very “throw away” – if something is broken, we bin it and buy a new one. Is that the same for relationships? Every couple will face issues at one point or another and one of the reasons for being in a partnership is so you can face problems together with another person. Those of us who have worked through issues with our loved ones will know that you can come out the other side stronger and more resilient than ever. We all know that the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side.
Improving your relationship when the going gets tough is not an easy task. It will require determination and patience to make it through. To understand why you feel like things are going wrong you need to ask yourself and your partner some questions. A failing relationship is not always marked by a big event such as infidelity, so you may have to dig deep to come up with the answer.
Why is the relationship failing?
Until you can pinpoint why things are going wrong, you don’t have a starting point. What has changed? What is different? Try and think about when things changed.
The dynamics of a relationship can change because of a life event
Children – Having children changes every couples life and not always positively. Maybe you don’t agree with your partners parenting style or you can’t cope with the lack of sleep and it’s making you extra grumpy. Some partners feel jealous that the children are now the priority.
The change could be that the children have left home leaving you with an empty nest and too much time on your hands. Suddenly the relationship changes from being parents back to being a couple and you no longer know what that should look or feel like.
Maybe a child is dealing with something in their life and it’s that which is putting a strain on the family and your relationship. Has the arrival of children meant that you are no longer having sex and enjoying intimate moments?
Jobs and work – has there been a change in working hours, type of job or redundancy. Is your partner raving about how much they enjoy their job while you dread going to work as you hate your role.
Caring – are you caring for an elderly relative and that’s causing a rift because the spare time you once had together has gone. Do you feel abandoned because your partner spends every spare minute caring for someone else.
Loneliness – are you feeling left out because your partner has a new hobby and group of friends? Your partner simply wants to use a hobby for a little space and alone time. Can you think of something you can do to enjoy yourself?
The list is exhaustive and anything could be the cause of a low point. Remember that it may only be one person in the relationship who is feeling unhappy. The other could be really content. It can be very difficult to think that not only is your relationship failing but that your partner hasn’t noticed your sadness. You can feel invisible.
So how can you try and save your relationship?
Firstly, your partner fell in love with you because of who you are and what you stand for, so don’t lose yourself in the relationship. A partner should be standing by your side, not suffocating you. Like life itself, a relationship needs to breathe, so allow each other the space to do whatever you want to do and to be whoever you wish to be. You should always strive to be the best version of yourself.
Another important point is that you need to love yourself and if it takes some one-to-one time with a counsellor or coach to achieve this, then so be it.
How can you expect someone to love you if you don’t even like yourself? It could be that you have issues stemming back from your childhood which are blocking your future. Working with a counsellor, using cognitive behavioural therapy or the suchlike could really help you to move on. It could be that you need to work with a coach to create your own life goals. You can’t expect your partner to hold your hand every step of the way. Being stuck in a rut can really change a person and destroy a relationship, so make sure you have plans to make yourself feel great. A relationship coach is always a good place to start.
Cut the insults
Communication is key and actually saying these words to the other person will be the starting point. Endless rowing will get you nowhere and saying this out loud can bring the matter into the present, like a stop button.
We keep arguing. This is ridiculous; we are just getting nowhere and it’s affecting us both.
Understanding what you are arguing about is key; some couples don’t even know why they are constantly fighting and it just becomes their normal form of communication.
There will be an element of pride disagreements, and one of you might have to step down. It may be that you agree to disagree but the communication needs to be constructive. It’s not helpful to tell your partner that they are “being stupid” or to hurl other insults.
There is no need to panic and think that a relationship is over just because you have a difference in opinion, it’s all about the WAY you voice that opinion and about respect.
Find the time
Make time for each other, even if you have young children you can grab a few minutes to have a takeaway or posh ready-meal and a bottle of wine. Grab the pushchair and make an effort to walk together somewhere different and talk.
Recognise your own flaws and always try to improve yourself because you shouldn’t expect your partner to make all the changes. Telling your partner that you are making self-adjustments will really encourage them to look internally too. It will also show them that you are serious about trying to save the relationship..
Find your funny-bone
Try and laugh about things. Remember when you got together and had humour in the relationship? Reintroduce laughter into your life and find the funnier and sunnier side of life. Talk about things which happened in the past, dig out old photographs.
The power of touch
If things have been bad for a while it can be almost “embarrassing” to touch; you feel that your partner is a stranger and they may not want you invading their now very personal space. Persevere and do things such as sit closer on the sofa, try touching your partners arm while you are talking or place your hand on theirs when you get the opportunity. These small actions can really help to save your relationship. Someone has to make the first move, so try taking the plunge.
If you can and when you feel that things are moving in the right direction say that you would really like to kiss them goodbye – tell your partner that you like to touch them and that you have been missing that feeling.
When two people touch it releases the chemical oxytocin which is known as the hormone of love.
Use positive words to communicate and avoid criticism which starts with words such as “you always”, “you’re a” “you can never”.
Make sure you allow yourself and your partner to have space and don’t take it personally if your partner wants time out. At the end of the day we all need breathing space and time alone to achieve our own life goals. Take the time to think about what you love about your partner and focus on the positives.
Show your partner that you are hearing them by using the mirroring technique. When they have finished speaking repeat back what they have said;
“Ok, so you’re saying that you would like to build the shed with the door on the left-hand side”
Don’t harbour negativity
If you are upset about something, let your partner know, but in a non-confrontational manner; don’t let negative thoughts fester or you will be back to square one.
Praise your partner. If they have done something well or said something kind let them know that you appreciate them; say thank you for a lovely meal, ask them if they would like a cup of tea. You will find that you feel really positive and it might just rub off on all the family.
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An organisation such as Relate can give further advice. Remember that you are not alone.