Quitting a relationship is very easy when you’re feeling hopeless. But divorcing or breaking up with your partner can be extreme, especially if you haven’t tried everything to try and repair your relationship.
In this article, we look at some great ideas on how to repair a relationship. But before you proceed, there is one question that you both need to ask yourselves:
Are you both still willing to try?
If you do, let’s work this thing out together and rejuvenate your dying relationship, and if one of you is not willing, then it might be time to skip learning how to repair a relationship and move on. If you are still with us, here are some techniques for how to repair a relationship.
1. ‘Maybe it’s me’
I like introspecting. By taking the time for introspection, I get to see myself from the outside. I can re-examine myself, my personal intentions, and even do a personal commitment check on my relationship.
Sometimes, problems arise when we fail to see the dirt on our faces.
Maybe it’s our narcissistic tendencies that make us see past our own flaws and blame all the problems we are experiencing on other people.
Taking an objective inward look at ourselves will provide us with an in-depth view of our own issues that need to be addressed.
By recognizing your personal issues, and by communicating this knowledge to your partner, it might be a good beginning to repairing your relationship – especially if both of you do this.
2. Go on a couples retreat and recommit
Going on a couples retreat that has a structured approach to the experience aimed at teaching techniques on how to repair a relationship is hitting two birds with one stone: First, you’ll be going on workshop to help your marriage, and second, you will be in a place far away from the humdrum of everyday life.
In couple’s retreats such as the one conducted by Drs. John and Julie Gottman at the Orcas Island, you will undergo workshops aimed to improve your relationship with your partner.
Over the course of two days, you and your partner will learn how to improve your communication, how to increase your commitment to each other, and how to manage your conflicts.
Going on a couple’s retreat will be a perfect way to reconnect with your partner. Maybe you’ll discover that it’s not a divorce that you need, but some alone time.
3. Work through differences to increase acceptance
Share our similarities, celebrate our differences. – M. Scott Peck
When you made the commitment to your partner at the altar all those years ago, it was a commitment to love them through whatever they’ll be going through, at whatever stage that your relationship will be in; it’s important to remember and accept this notion.
Start by acknowledging, accepting, and respecting your differences as two individuals. By doing so, it will be easier for you to see who your partner is and the challenges they might face that you don’t.
Spend time looking at yourself and your partner and notice what parts of them you are not accepting and then, work on accepting them.
Another method you can use is to list down those traits or parts that you like about them and focus some of your energy on them.
As the quote says, it’s important to share similarities but without forgetting that as individuals, there are differences that you can celebrate together.
If you can do this together, then you might just repair your relationship after all.
4. Address the 4 Horsemen in your relationship
Dr John Gottman is a well-known marriage expert. He carried out a longitudinal study that followed several couples over the course of their 20 years of marriage. One of the findings in this research was the predictors of marriage, which he called, The Four Horsemen, which are: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling.
Appropriately named because they are not conducive to a good marriage and here’s why:
Criticism isn’t all that bad if it’s “constructive criticism”. It is not bad if said in such a way that the receiver is not condemned. It will only become worse if used excessively and as a tactic to hurt our partner or to project our frustrations out on them.
Instead of criticizing your partner through condemning statements, try expressing how you feel by starting off statements with “I”.
When you start a statement off with ‘I’, you are owning your own part in the situation and explaining how you feel when your partner does whatever it is that they do that is frustrating.
It allows you to be able to clearly express what you’re feeling and how your partner’s patterns are affecting you without having the negative effect of criticising your partner.
When we have contempt for our partners, the way we communicate is hurtful and are directed to hurt. It can be sarcastic, condescending, or just plain mean. Partners also exhibit contempt through our body language – eye-rolling is an example of such body language.
So, what do you do instead?
If you can spend some time focusing on your partner’s positive qualities instead of being watchful of their flaws it will help you to develop compassion, care, empathy, and kindness toward them.
“I didn’t do anything!”
People resort to defensiveness when they feel that they are in a threatening situation or are being compromised. It’s a tactic often used to remove one’s self from the responsibility of owning up to a mistake.
Sometimes, defensiveness even comes with gaslighting, a technique used by some people to make it seem that it is the other person’s fault how they got themselves into the miserable situation.
If you’re culpable, then be accountable. Practising defensiveness only hurts the feelings of your partner.
By being defensive you are exhibiting that you are not paying attention to what your partner is saying. If you did something wrong, then just be accountable and take the responsibility for it.
Being responsible shows maturity and empathy towards your partner.
Stonewalling is literally putting up a wall between you and your partner. Withdrawal or distancing yourself from your partner in terms of physical and emotional aspect are all manifestations of stonewalling.
Dr Gottman’s research found that men are more likely to resort to this tactic to prevent hurting their wives. However, stonewalling can be just as hurtful as mindlessly saying things.
Instead of stonewalling your partner, tell your partner that you wish to leave the argument to breathe; re-assure them that you will come back when you’re ready. In this manner, your partner will be more open to understanding that you’ll be taking this time away from them to properly manage your own emotions.
These four horsemen escalate in how grave they affect your partner and if these behaviors infest your relationship, it’s necessary to stop them on their tracks before it’s too late.
As an alternative solution, both of you can learn to apply more positive to pave the way to mend broken areas in your relationship
5. Practice gratitude
The previous strategies were all designed to address the negative cycles and attitudes in your relationship, this last tip will help shift your focus on the things that make your relationship good.
For us to see the good, we can practice gratitude.
Gratitude is an important skill that we all should be practising in our relationships.
Not only is it courteous, but, on an emotional level, expressing gratitude is uplifting and provides us with a better sense in our overall well-being.
When we practice gratitude, we see the good in our partners. We acknowledge their help and validate their love. We can stop contempt on its tracks because, we are able to see that, after all the arguments and conflicts, there is still the good in your partner.
Whether the cause of these conflicts is something as small such as your husband leaving his dirty work clothes on the floor; or by something bigger, such as your spouse’s infidelity, these strategies on how to repair a relationship will only work if both partners are committed to making the necessary changes.
As your vows said: “for better, for worse…” It is important to remember that you also committed to love your partner even at the “for worse” part of this vow.
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.