How to Save Your Relationship
If you and your partner have grown apart and you want to know how to save your relationship, then get ready for a radical shift, because it’s going to take a change in mindset to reestablish your connection. The good news is this: With a little bit of willingness, you can move beyond your past (regardless of how painful it might be) and regain that closeness you felt with your partner early on in your relationship.
Here are the steps:
Step#1 Only hold on to loving thoughts.
The first step also happens to be the most challenging, meaning, you may have the most resistance to it out of all the steps. That being said, it’s the starting point, because it’s the most important. Our minds want to hold on to every painful thing our partner has ever said, done, or almost-did. The longer you are with someone, the more crummy narratives store away in your mind, revisiting them one by one each time you get angry, frustrated, or are having a bad day. Your partner forgets to take out the trash (again), and your mind goes into a long diatribe about how your partner is irresponsible, messy, and leaves all the housework to you.
When this happens, you’re not being present. Instead of focusing on the moment, you are caught in the past. You can become so accustomed to reliving bad memories that your relationship quit literally lives in the past. If you want to save your relationship, the first thing you need to do is get in the habit of redirecting your thoughts when you find yourself rehashing old memories of times you were frustrated. Commit to keeping the positive memories and let go of what no longer serves the progress of your relationship. This is the only way you can move forward if you want to reconnect with your partner and avoid breaking up.
Step#2 Celebrate your partner’s positives.
If you really want to drive a wedge between you and your partner, try nagging him and telling him all of the things he’s not doing, or not doing well. Remind him how messy he is on a regular basis and complain about what he wears, or his lack of hygiene. It’s so easy to become parents to our partners; it’s natural to want to point out the flaws in others, especially when we see a person on a daily basis. However, there’s nothing that will cause a riff between you and your partner faster than making critical comments or pointing out how he left the lasagna pan in the sink without soaking it.
Don’t get me wrong, I get it. You’re tired, and you’re the only one doing anything around the house. Maybe your partner isn’t great at things like budgeting, cooking, cleaning, or paying the bills. Maybe he does a million things wrong, according to you. Here’s the key: Even if he does remember to soak the lasagna pan the next time, because you nagged him about it, it will serve you in terms of maintaining a clean house, but it will hurt your relationship.
Every critical comment you make to your partner diminishes your connection just a little bit. Choose to bite your tongue for the greater good. As it says in the spiritual text A Course in Miracles:
Would you rather be right, or happy?
Step#3 Clear the space between the two of you.
This one isn’t so much of a step as it is an ongoing process. It’s natural for stuff to come up in a relationship. There’s no way that two people can be together without becoming frustrated, annoyed, or infuriated by the other. The problem isn’t that your partner makes you upset; the problem is that you don’t communicate your feelings in a peaceful, solution-oriented way. Instead, you behave passive aggressively. You make snarky comments. You sigh. You slam the door. You recoil when he reaches over for a snuggle.
You think you’re doing the right thing by not talking about what upset you, but, the truth is that you’re doing the worse thing possible for your relationship. If your partner said something that hurt your feelings, or if he made a choice that brought up feelings of insecurity or sadness in you, you need to communicate those feelings in an authentic way. Every time you get upset with your partner but you fail to communicate (and then come to a solution), you increase the distance between you and your partner.
If you want to save your relationship, you need to get in the habit of sharing your frustrations as soon as they arise. To learn how to communicate with your partner mindfully, check out the article How to Communicate in a Relationship, or, watch the video I shot with my partner Tim about the topic.
Step#4 Get away.
Life can be busy. There’s school, work, family, friends, and everything in between. Let’s not mention all of the trips to the drug store, or the fact that you have to shave your legs, or go to the grocery store yet again. Who has the time, or the money, to get away?
If this sounds familiar, then you must understand that if you don’t make date nights and vacation time a priority, you’ll fall into the trap of living a busy life together without actually being connected. You don’t have to go anywhere expensive, and it doesn’t have to be for long in order to reap the benefits of taking some time to go somewhere and be together. You can drive one or two hours away and rent a cheap Airbnb somewhere close. Go visit somewhere beautiful with your partner. Take a bubble bath together. Try a new restaurant. Find somewhere scenic and go for a picnic.
I know you don’t have the time, and I know you don’t have the money, but you can still make it happen. Make your relationship a priority, otherwise, you’ll let the business of life create a riff in the relationship. You’ll be so busy being busy that you’ll wake up to find that your connection has faded.
Step#5 Break old patterns.
If your relationship need saving, then something needs to change, and it needs to happen now. Only you know which patterns need breaking. Do you need to make more time and effort to creating intimacy? Do you need to stop sneaking around? Do you need to learn how to trust your partner more? Do you need to work on other areas of your life that are putting stress on your relationship, such as your physical or financial well-being?
In order to save your relationship, you need to show up differently. You need to think different thoughts and behave differently. If you normally criticize your partner, try complimenting him everyday. If you are hardly ever intimate, make time for a nightly massage. If you fight over money, try having a financial meeting once a week, where you set goals, brainstorm new income streams, and celebrate successful decisions you’ve made over the last few days.
It’s possible to save your relationship, no matter how challenging it might seem. Commit to shifting your perception and cultivating new habits. Make time for each other, and stop complaining over the small stuff. Life is not about the bills, or the laundry. When you feel yourself falling into negative patterns, become present to what you’re doing, and make a new choice.
Hi, I’m Jessie! I’ve been on the spiritual path for 15 years, and this blog is where I share mindfulness & relationship advice. If you’d like to set up a session to discuss how to get your relationship back on track, send me a message.