Sometimes you can just sense when your relationship is falling apart. The energy is off, negative, or maybe you’ve actually been fighting a lot without any satisfying resolution. If you’re facing the possibility of a breakup right now, don’t lose hope just yet. Remember that everything in this world is temporary and this too shall pass.
If you care deeply about your partner and you’re both committed to making the relationship work, there’s almost always a way to rebuild. For couples who mutually want to try to work things out and ultimately stay together if possible, here’s how to proceed and fix your relationship:
Many people enter a particularly rough patch in their relationship—an awful fight or transgression, a dysfunctional pattern that has repeated itself one too many times—and begin to head for the exit. But that’s giving up too soon, whether out of fear, frustration, or laziness. The truth is, many couples really can work through their difficulties if they’re both willing to put in the effort.
Don’t sit around trying to fix your relationship all by yourself—it just won’t work. Get your partner involved if they aren’t already: Talk to them honestly about your concerns, and let them know that you’re contemplating whether the relationship can really work. Don’t threaten them with a breakup, but make sure they truly understand how seriously you’re taking these issues.
Beware the trap of blame. You can be upset with something your partner is doing, but at the same time, make sure you’re taking time to seriously reflect on the ways you’ve also contributed to the dynamic, negative energy, and problems between you. If the problem is less about something either of you is doing to that hurts the other and more about a difference in views or lifestyle, you should both acknowledge this difference—respectfully and without resentment—and consider whether a compromise is reasonable or achievable.
This is separate from just recognizing your own contribution to your relationship’s troubled waters. This is about recognizing the inner work you have left to do on yourself. Oftentimes, many of the problems that emerge in our lives are directly related to underlying mental or emotional struggles we ourselves have been dealing with all along, Paul says: “If you ignore your feelings, judge yourself, turn to various addictions to numb your feelings, or make your partner responsible for your feelings of worth and safety, then you are rejecting and abandoning yourself, and you have inner work to do to learn to love yourself. People tend to treat us the way we treat ourselves, so focus on how you are treating yourself rather than how your partner is treating you.”
As you’re working to rebuild your relationship, remember to take a breath from focusing on all the bad and spend some time reflecting on the good parts. What are some of your fondest memories together? What things about your partner bring you joy, inspire you, or amaze you? Don’t spend all your conversations talking about the heavy stuff. Things were good, once. They can be good again. It may never look exactly the same as it did before; it may very well become even better.
Get some professional help! You must take an outside expert’s perspective, someone who understands the common pitfalls couples fall into and has experience helping them out of them. Even going alone if your partner resists the idea of therapy—although attending together is ideal, the insights will be valuable either way.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of ruminating over your relationship and getting caught up in your own difficult emotions around it, but it is important to take time to see things from your partner’s perspective. You’re not the only one who’s struggling right now. Right now, the person you love most is also going through something very painful. Can you find a way to show up and be there for them?