I have many clients who come to me looking for ways to fix a relationship because they say that they are still in love with their partner but that they are finding it harder and harder to stay that way. They are sad and lonely and desperate to change.
Fortunately, and unfortunately, most relationships are the same. They go through good times and bad. And the bad times are all very similar, standard even, in their issues. And because the issues are standard, they are identifiable and easy to address.
#1 – Stop snipping.
Imagine walking into a room and seeing a friend and asking them how they are doing. How do you THINK I am doing, they respond, nastily. I have been cooking and cleaning all day and where have you been? Would that person be your friend for long? Probably not.
Stop for a minute and consider whether you ever speak that way to your partner. Maybe? Probably? Well, stop it!
Snipping gets us nowhere. It might make us feel good in the moment but all it really does is make the other person shut down. And feel bad about themselves and you.
Next time try this when asked by your partner how you are doing. I am stressed out. I have too much to do and feel overwhelmed. Can you help me?
I can guarantee you positive results – both in getting the needed help and in not adding any more fuel to the fire of resentment.
#2 – Don’t make assumptions.
Life is busy and there is a lot to be done. Chores around the house, time spent with friends, exercise regimes, demands from the kids. And it’s easy to just assume that it’s all going to fit into a day.
We all know, but seem to forget, that this is not the case. There are only 24 hours in a day and only so much that can get done.
It is very important that you both agree on what those things need to be.
I have a client who struggles most with her husband over the weekends. She has a list for him on Saturday morning and she knows that when he is done with that list there will be more for him to do.
My client’s husband wants to make his wife happy and sets out to do the list but gets distracted by tossing the ball with his child, a pre-planned bike ride with friends, that engine that needs to be tinkered with or even something else that his spouse proposes. The list doesn’t get done. And she gets pissed. And he gets defensive and everything falls apart.
I suggested that on Saturday morning she and her spouse discuss their expectations for the day and get them clearly defined. What does she REALLY need done? What does he feel he can get done? What does he want to do outside of chores?
If everyone agrees up front then no one gets let down or screamed at for not getting things done. And if that doesn’t happen then Saturday night is a much better place. A place for making love not war.
#3 – Don’t take everything personally.
My husband’s only job this weekend was to find us windows for our house renovation, my client announced to me one session. He didn’t. If he loved me he would have made it happen.
Sound familiar? If he loved me he would….
So I have to say it: this concept is total shit and the reason so many marriages fall apart.
My client’s husband didn’t get the windows chosen not because he didn’t love her. He didn’t get the windows chosen because he got a work call and had to deal with that and then lunch happened and then his son needed him and then it was naptime and then he just forgot.
There is a big difference between him not getting it done because he doesn’t love her and what actually happened.
So DON’T TAKE THINGS PERSONALLY. It’s really not all about you.
#4 – Learn each other’s love language.
I truly believe that the best tool in a successful relationship is Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages. Go to Amazon right now and download it onto your Kindle.
The premise behind his book is that there are five love languages, five ways that people express and receive love.
The languages are: Quality Time, Physical Touch, Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service and Giving of Gifts.
For each person one of those things is the thing that makes them feel the most loved when it is done unto them. When a partner tries to love them using a different love language they don’t feel loved.
My love language is Quality Time – I feel loved when someone is truly present with me, listening to me, focusing on me. My ex-husbands’ love language was Physical Touch – he felt love when I was holding his hand, hugging him or, yep, that.
Unfortunately, the language that we spoke best with each other was Acts of Service – we did things for each other, like changing the oil in the car or going to the grocery store. Stuff got done but neither of us felt loved.
Check out the 5 Love Languages at www.5lovelanguages.com. There you will find a quiz that you and your partner can both complete and you can start loving each other in a way that will work.
#5 – Fool Around and Laugh.
Yes, I know it always comes down to sex for me. I know. I do believe that it is a huge part of any healthy relationship. Sex provides intimacy and connection that makes your relationship with your partner different from the relationship that you have with any other person on earth. It’s definitely important.
But it’s not ALL that is important.
Couples need to laugh together, to have fun together. So much time is spent with the family business and the outside world that we tend to lose track of that person we proclaim is the most important to us.
Remember when you were falling in love? All of the time that was spent laughing? What made you laugh together back then? Can you go back to those things and do them again now? Or is there something new?
Whatever it is that makes you laugh do it! And do it together.
Personally, one of my favorite relationships ever was with a man I laughed with WHILE we were making love. Rolling around, being intimate and laughing together kept us deeply connected to each other. Our relationship had to end but we are still friends and look back on those times together as pure magic.
Ask any single person what it is they long for most in this world and they will say that it’s to be in a relationship.
If you are in one you are very lucky. If you are in one that is struggling, fix it. Because you are very lucky to have it. And you will miss it if, and when, it goes.
So take a moment right now to take stock of your relationship. Does it need fixing? If yes, take my list, grab your partner, and start making it happen!
Looking for more ways to fix your relationship? Contact me and I can help!
I am a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. My writing has been published on The Huffington Post, Prevention, Psych Central, Pop Sugar, MSN and The Good Man Project, among others. I work with all kinds of people to help them go from depressed and overwhelmed to confident and happy in their relationships and in their world.