Being in a relationship can feel amazing. However, all relationships will experience some form of discomfort and conflict. Sometimes conflict can be resolved easily while, in other instances, conflict can damage the relationship. When relationships are damaged, you may forget why you ever fell in love with your partner. If this happens, resentment may start to form which usually leads to a breakdown in communication. When a relationship enters this state of functioning, both partners often feel unwilling to see or hear their contribution to the dysfunction. In times like this, it can be difficult to know how to fix a relationship.
The purpose of this blog is to outline ways to repair in times of challenge. Reflecting on love for one another and a desire to communicate are amongst the ways you can begin to fix a relationship. However, in order to repair, there must be a willingness to have a constructive conversation to resolve the dysfunction. Without the willingness to discuss the challenges in a relationship, fixing the relationship is on hold. Hopefully, this blog will promote the inspiration and motivation to start working on your relationship.
Agree to communicate
In most cases of damaged relationships, communication is the source of dysfunction. Agree to explore ways to communicate about how to fix your relationship. This can be something as simple as agreeing on what day and time you are open to having a conversation. Once you both have agreed to start the communication process, explore setting some rules around communication. For example, agreeing to a calm tone is very important. This means that no yelling is allowed. Speak to each other with care and respect.
Making eye contact is also important while having difficult conversations. When you are making eye contact, the other person can see your commitment to the process. It also demonstrates that you are committed to fixing your relationship, are present for the conversation, and that you respect what your partner has to say. Make sure to allow space for a time-out. Expect that the conversation may get intense. Agreeing to take time-outs before you start will make it easier to ask, “can we take a five or ten minute break?” during the conversation.
Discussing the dysfunction in your relationship
Show up for this discussion with the willingness to see your contribution to the dysfunction in your relationship. This can be a challenge. Considering this, be mindful that no one wants to be told they have hurt or disappointed their partner. I suggest being mindful of what you say and how you say things. It can be helpful to make a list of the things you want to talk about. Expect that you may experience some anxiety which can cause you to forget details and leave things out. Explicitly state what you are unhappy with. But, avoid using statements like ‘you always do this’ or ‘you never do that’. Instead, use phrases like: ‘it makes me uncomfortable when you do ____’ and, ‘when you do that it makes me feel ____’ or, ‘when you say ____, that makes me think ____ and when I think that I feel ____.’
Try not to shame your partner for something they tend to do or say. Instead of shaming them, ask for clarity on why they are doing the thing that bothers you. There is a strong possibility that your partner does not know how much of an impact that thing they do has on you.
Reflect on falling in love
Give yourself permission to reflect on the things that brought you and your partner together. Recall the moments when things were great and communication was easier. Taking a look at old photos can be very helpful in this phase of fixing a relationship. Photos are proof of the good times you have shared. Talk about the day you first met and share memories of the first date. Perhaps, sharing three things that attracted you to your partner will remind you of how and why you fell in love with each other. This stage of fixing your relationship requires vulnerability. Don’t be afraid to show how much you care. Be as authentic as possible. And don’t hold back!
Determine ways to reconnect
Be very intentional as you find ways to reconnect. Understanding the goal will set you up for success. In other words, you both need to be on the same page if you plan on fixing your relationship. Share what will make you think and feel like your relationship is moving from a dysfunctional stage to a love-functioning stage. Be honest with your partner about what you need and what you are willing to offer. This is the moment of renegotiating your relationship. In this stage, you are fixing the broken foundation of your relationship. That said, don’t make promises you can’t keep.
How to fix a relationship: the benefits of couples therapy
Sometimes, help is necessary in order to fix a relationship. In some cases, the damage is so intense that having an unsupervised conversation might appear to be unrealistic or impossible. If discussing the dysfunction in your relationship only leads to more dysfunction, it might be a good idea to seek support. A couples therapist can help bridge the gap in communication. Having a professional in the room can provide a sense of safety and comfort that your thoughts and feelings will be taken into consideration. A couples therapist can offer techniques and tools for communication. However, couples therapy needs to be a good fit. If you or your partner don’t feel comfortable with the therapist, it will be important to talk about that with each other and with the therapist.
I imagine that no one wants to find themselves looking for ways to fix their relationship. If you find yourself in that place of exploration, I encourage you to take these suggestions into consideration. Also, find other resources, as these are just a few of the many ways you can fix a relationship. If you decide to use these suggestions, try doing this work in stages. Acknowledging the fact that this will be a lot of work, but expressing that you are willing to show-up for the work, can help reduce the discomfort.
I encourage you to understand that this can be mentally and emotionally challenging. While in the phase of agreeing to communicate you may want to agree to spread the “fixing process” out over a few days or weeks. In any case, before you give up and walk away from each other, ask yourself if you have done everything in your power to fix your relationship.
Are you and your partner struggling to repair challenges in your relationship? Couples therapy can provide a safe space to share and explore the more difficult aspects of your relationship to get you and your partner on your way to a healthier connection.
Have you ever had to fix a relationship? Tell us what worked and what did not work for you. Join the conversation in the comments below!