Few things are as frustrating and painful as a broken relationship. It can feel like being trapped in quicksand. Sometimes the more you kick and flail, the faster you sink. How do you know when a relationship is worth saving versus when it’s time to move on? How do you recognize your issues versus your partner’s issues?
These 5 tips can help:
1. Set clear, measurable goals.
Spend less time discussing what you don’t want in your relationship and more time discussing what you do want. Write out concrete relationship goals. Maybe you agree to one date night per week. Maybe you both agree to de-escalate future arguments by taking some time to cool off. These goals should feel balanced, requiring both parties to make healthy changes.
2. Discuss exit strategy
Establish a timeline to clarify expectations. Decide to go “all in” for a period of time – 6 months, a year, etc. Agreeing to re-evalute your relationship at that time can help to establish that if you still aren’t meeting agreed upon goals, it might be best to take some time apart. Don’t wait for your relationship to repair itself. Make the changes you need to make. At some point, if your partner isn’t meeting you halfway, the most responsible thing to do may be to walk away.
3. Understand the larger patter.
Troubled relationships don’t happen in a vacuum. Review your past romantic relationships. Consider your family background. Ponder your relationships with your co-workers, your boss. In many ways, your romantic relationship is a reflection of your overall life approach. If your relationship isn’t working, there are likely other areas of your life that also aren’t working.
4. Let go of blame.
No one ever wins the blame game. Focus instead on change – not changing your partner, but changing you. If you feel you’re doing everything right and your partner is doing everything wrong, you make yourself into a victim. You don’t require your partner’s cooperation to become a happier, more mindful person. Improve yourself, improve your life, then re-evaluate your partner.
5. Try couples counseling.
Couples counseling helps find balance, directing each member of the couple toward their personal issues. Rather than going round and round in familiar circles, a counselor can help establish new communication patterns. Your counselor will help you set clear goals and honestly measure your success along the way. In addition, couples counseling helps you and your partner see the bigger picture, teaching you to recognize unresolved personality issues and other life factors that contribute to negative relationship habits.
Repairing your relationship begins with awareness, and effective counseling helps bring increased awareness to every aspect of your life.