Maintaining a healthy relationship takes a lot of conscious commitment, awareness, care, communication skills, time and effort. And even when you establish a highly functional relationship with your partner, there is a chance that your love will encounter challenges.
You can never be sure that your relationship is invincible, as it will inevitably go through a few rough patches now and then.
There are no perfect matches, or couples that are flawlessly connected- this is because we, as humans, aren’t perfect and therefore do not have the capacity to create perfection in love.
The truth is that most of the best relationships go through very difficult times. These times serve as a chance for us to work out our deeply rooted childhood wounds.
Experiencing a rough patch or a toxic relationship?
If there is friction, distress, abuse, and pain between you and your partner the first thing you need to do is to determine if your relationship is going through a rough patch or it is, at its core, a toxic relationship.
Toxic relationships usually drain your energy because they are highly abusive. They are based on co-dependency, neglect and emotional manipulation.
There is typically a lack of compassion and understanding between partners. Major trust issues and the inability to create or maintain secure attachment can also be a part of such relations.
2. Healing a toxic relationship
If healing is possible, it directly depends on your specific circumstances and on how much “damage” was done to both individuals (including other people involved like close family members, children, etc) over the period of your troublesome love.
If your relationship has brought way more misery than bliss in your life then you might need to consider if this is the right choice for you, especially if there is any kind of abuse involved.
If you feel that your relationship, despite being challenging and difficult, still enriches your life and brings some positivity and growth then you need to take personal responsibility for your well-being.
You should also learn to navigate through your imperfect love life by making it better and healing the current toxicity that is there.
Once you manage to heal and overcome your initial relationship struggles, you will have a chance to experience more love, more passion, more intimacy.
The healing of your love can only happen through your conscious decision, commitment and effort to work on yourself and it’s very important that your partner does the same in his/her own way.
Here are the top 7 ways to heal your toxic relationship:
1. Resist your urges to control your partner
When you are in a relationship that lacks trust and true intimacy it is very easy to develop a controlling behavior towards your partner. Because of the fear involved you might have the irresistible desire to ask a lot of questions about the whereabouts of your partner, or his/her friends, you might even want to influence important decisions your partner is about to make, or in general you would try very hard to make him/her behave and think in a way that you desire.
When you feel like controlling these urges the best thing to do is to resist them and ask yourself – what am I afraid of in this situation?
2. Be assertive
Assertiveness is a great communication skill that will support you in managing your struggling relationship and at the same time help you in improving the connection with yourself.
The ability and decision to assert yourself are way healthier than going into passive or aggressive behavior that usually causes a lot of damage between you are your partner. Learn about it, practice it, share it with your spouse and see what it brings to your love life.
3. Hold space for each other
Make sure you are maintaining the connection with your partner even through times of friction and frustration. When you isolate, ignore and escape such circumstances the gap between you is growing and it gets more difficult to reach contentment and closeness.
4. Rise above emotional manipulation and mind games
Are you the one playing mind games in your relationship or is it your partner? No matter who is introducing these toxic manipulation attempts, in order to heal your toxic relationship, you will need to resist both initiating or participating in mind games.
5. Engage in crucial conversations
More love, more passion, and more intimacy is usually to be found on the other side of truth. In order to re-start your struggling love, you will need to start taking some emotional risks.
You can begin by engaging in a crucial conversation, bringing up the truths that you have been withholding from your partner and then stay in dialogue even when it is uncomfortable or scary.
6. Get information, tools, advice and/or professional support
Most people simply don’t know what to do. Our mainstream culture is totally ignorant about what it takes to create a healthy, highly functioning relationship.
Getting some information or involving a professional to support you would be a great step towards the couple’s recovery.
7. Practice gratitude
We often take what we receive on a regular basis for granted and we don’t see the value and importance in what our partners bring to our life. By doing daily gratitude, like sharing three things we appreciate about our partner before going to sleep can help to switch the attention from negative to positive and heal our relationship.
Lastly, it is important to recognize that what we dislike in our partner is likely something we dislike in ourselves so we try to control, manipulate, avoid, ignore or blame others instead of doing the necessary “inner work” on ourselves.
More self-love will indeed lead to more love in your current relationship.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.