Fix a Ruined Relationship
Edited by Kathy McGraw, Maria Quinney, VC
You love your partner, and you can't imagine a life without them, but right now, even talking to them feels like pulling teeth. You hardly spend time together anymore, and when you do, you argue over everything from whether to get low-fat or non-fat milk to whether or not you should quit your job to start your own business.
You may not even be sure about when it happened, but somewhere along the way, one of you or both of you made a mistake or a series of mistakes, and it damaged your relationship. You want to save it, but you don't know where to start. This article will give you some information about how to repair a broken relationship.
Can this relationship be saved?
Some relationships are too damaged to be repaired.Before you decide to try and fix yours, it is helpful to determine where your relationship stands. Generally, a relationship can be fixed if you can answer yes to the following questions:
- 1Saving your relationship requires that both partners what to work through their problems. It takes work, both together and separately, and if one of you isn't completely onboard and willing, then their apathy will sabotage the recovery process.Do both of you want to try?
- 2It's hard to own up to your mistakes, but part of healing the rifts in your relationship is knowing what went wrong, what your part in it was, and then fixing it, none of which you can do unless you face your errors.Are you willing to admit that you were wrong?
- 3You can still see yourself and your partner together years down the road and can't imagine what your life would be like without them.Do you have trouble picturing life without your partner?
- 4The intensity of attraction ebbs and flows over time, but overall, you still get a thrill when you look at them, even if you make not like them much at the moment.Does the thought of your partner still make your heart beat a little faster?
- 5Even though both of you have been at each other's throats more often than not lately, there is no one else who you would rather spend time with than your partner.At the end of the day, does your partner still feel like home?
Reconnecting With Your Partner
When you and your partner are struggling with your relationship, you begin to act less and less like a cohesive pair; that sense of "couplehood" you had earlier on is gone. You drift apart and what little time you do spend with each other is spent arguing and negative emotions are pervasive. To repair your relationship, you need to reconnect with each other; you need to remember what it was like in the beginning and recreate that closeness you used to share.
- 1Learn to talk to each other again. Ask each other questions and talk about more than just the kids and the bills. All too often, these day to day concerns take over our interactions with our partners, and we forget how much fun it was to just talk to them.Get to know each other again.
- 2Any couples counselor will tell you that the key to a lasting relationship is communication. Miscommunication leads to wrong assumptions, misunderstandings, and hurt feelings.Communicate with each other.
- Become an active listener. Consciously focus on your partner's words, and then repeat them back and ask your partner if that was what they meant to say.
- Own your emotions and thoughts. Speak using "I" rather than "you." For example, instead of saying "you hurt me when you left the toilet seat up" say "I felt disregarded when you left the toilet seat up. The first example is very accusatory and may put the other party on the defensive. The second example clarifies what you mean by feeling hurt and explains how their action affected you.
- Refrain from using the phrase "You always...". It's hyperbole and gives the other person room to think "well, that's just not true,' and distracts from the issue at hand.
- 3Just because you're in a committed relationship doesn't mean that you need to stop dating. A romantic evening out where it's just the two of you without the distractions of a busy household will help you bond with each other. Plus dating is fun!Go out on a date.
Trusting your partner and having them trust you is essential to a happy and healthy relationship. When trust is lost, it can be very difficult to regain, but it is not impossible. Whether the trust in your relationship has been broken by lies, cheating, or another betrayal, it will take a lot of work on the part of both partners to rebuild it.
- 1Offer no excuses and tell the person that you are sorry for hurting them. Acknowledge their pain and most importantly, be sincere. For example, you can say "I am sorry for what I did. I was wrong, and I know how much it hurt you." Don't add to it; allow your apology to speak for itself.Apologize.
- Don't be too quick with your apology, since doing so may come across as in insincere.
- Do apologize in a thoughtful manner while taking your partner's feelings into account.
Intimacy encompasses much more than just sex, although sex is a part of it. When a relationship is in trouble, the intimacy level between partners drops and they grow distant from each other. Part of the healing process is recovering that lost intimacy.
- 1Intimacy may mean different things for each of you; one of you may be content just being in the same room together, while the other might crave more interaction and physical touch. Talk with each other and try to compromise, so that each of you feels that your needs are being met.Discuss what intimacy means for you.
- 2When your partner gets home, go over and give them a hug and reach out and touch them periodically through the day when you're together. Physical affection helps you feel connected to each other and reaffirms your love for one another.Make a habit of being physically affectionate.
- 3Everyone loves compliments; try and find three things to compliment your partner about every day. You can say something like "I love attentive you are" or "I love that color on you." It doesn't have to be flowery or effusive, it just has to be real.Give your partner compliments.
- 4Talk about your day and how you are doing, and be sure to also ask them about their day. It's easy to get lost in the details of a busy life and forget to talk to and listen to each other.Discuss your day with your partner.
- 5It doesn't matter what you do, so long as you do it together. Binge-watch, the first season of Lost on Netflix, start a garden or do a puzzle. Spending time together helps you strengthen the bonds of your relationship.Spend time together.
- 6Cuddling releases the hormone oxytocin which makes people feel closer to one another. Cuddling also feels really nice.Cuddle with each other.