Does your relationship feel broken? If it does, don’t give up quite yet. In many cases a relationship can be fixed, if both parties are willing to put in the work.
There’s some great relationship advice out there such as learning healthier communication and looking for the good in your partner. We’ve featured some of those tips ourselves. But what about the lesser known tips? What else can you try when it all seems lost?
Try out these 8 secrets for fixing relationships and give yours a chance of recovery.
1. Eliminate the word “But”
“But” is a dangerous word. Imagine you’re trying to talk things out with your partner, and they’ve just admitted that they feel like they hardly see you any more. If your response is “but I’ve been working really hard”, that immediately erases their concern.
“But” leaves the other party feeling like what they said doesn’t matter. Try substituting this simple phrase instead: “Yes, I can see why you feel that way.” Or, if you really can’t see it, try: “Yes … can you tell me a bit more about that?”
It’s surprising how much conflict comes down to one person not feeling heard.
2. Make a conscious effort to increase positivity
It sounds obvious we know, but if you want to increase positivity in your relationship, a good place to start is by making the effort to do exactly that.
You might write out a list of all the things you love about your partner (and even better, show it to them). Or work together on finding a solution to a niggling problem like a childcare snafu.
Look for reasons to be happy with each other, and do your best to eliminate stressors.
3. Realize it’s ok to let a problem go
When your relationship is in a rocky patch, it can lead to a kind of hyper-vigilance where you feel like you have to deal with every problem, right now.
While it’s true that some problems do require your energy and attention, some don’t. Some problems you can simply let go of.
Before bringing an issue up with your partner, ask yourself if there’s anything to be gained from doing so. If you’re bringing up an issue that’s already been resolved or that you can’t do anything about now, sometimes it’s healthier to just let it go and move on.
4. Give yourselves permission for fun
Things can start feeling serious and heavy when your relationship is on the rocks. The problem is, everything feeling so dire only adds to the sense that it’s too late to save it.
Try giving yourselves permission to have fun instead, and see if that helps. Don’t be afraid to be silly or affectionate or make a joke. Schedule time for a fun night out, a picnic, a road trip or relaxing together with a favorite movie.
5. Try walking in their shoes
It’s easy to get so focused on how you feel and, sometimes, how mad you are, that the other person’s viewpoint is forgotten. Sometimes though, seeing their side is exactly what you need to do.
Next time you’re at loggerheads, try looking at it from your partner’s perspective. If you’re not sure what their perspective is, ask. A little empathy can go a long way in fixing a relationship.
6. Focus on how you can change
Of course you’ve thought a few times about the ways you wish your partner would change. That’s natural, and everyone does it.
The only problem is, you can’t change them. People only change when they are ready to, and no amount of cajoling will make them do it.
Instead, ask how you can change to make your relationship better. What habits could you quit, or start, and what behaviors could you change to produce a more nourishing atmosphere?
7. Quit the anger habit
The anger habit soon gets ingrained and before you know it, you’re spending a large chunk of time fighting with your partner.
But anger doesn’t get you very far. Think about it – if someone is angry and shouting at you, how likely are you to listen carefully and look for a solution? Most people, understandably, react to anger with either anger or fear.
Dial down the anger and make way for more productive discussions.
8. Agree to disagree
It’s ok if you and your partner disagree sometimes. You don’t have to reach a consensus on everything.
Choose what really matters to you. What issues do you really need your partner to agree with you on, for your relationship to work? What can you let go of and simply agree to disagree about?
Keeping score or winning have no place in a healthy relationship. Aim for cooperation and kindness instead, and let yourselves disagree peacefully from time to time.
Try letting a few things go – you might be surprised at what a difference it makes.
Broken relationships aren’t always without hope. With a few attitude adjustments and a renewed commitment on both sides, you can mend a relationship and even make it stronger than before.