Want to figure out how to save a relationship but don’t know how? If someone tells you that being in a relationship is easy, it’s likely that the relationship is either new or that the person is glossing over things. Relationships aren’t necessarily always hard or at least they shouldn’t constantly be. But they are complicated.
Relationships happen when two or more people decide to be together. And being together involves compromise and communication, both of which are easier said than done. No matter how similar to your partner you are or how much you complement each other, there will always be times when you clash.
When you start clashing more than you’re complementing the relationship starts to go off track and you have to make the active decision to put it on the path you want. Follow these steps to get back to a smoother road.
How to Save a Relationship Worth Saving
Step 1: Decide if you want to save it
It’s important that we start with this step first. Because you need to understand that there is no shame in deciding that it’s not worth saving. Even if you’ve been together 30 years. People change and relationships have to change. Sometimes we change enough that we no longer complement each other.
It’s okay to say goodbye and there is no shame in making that choice. If you’re not happy in your relationship and you no longer see a future in which you’re happy, it’s okay to stop trying to save it.
You need to take care of your own needs and your partner may not be what you need any more, especially if you’re finding that it’s an unhealthy relationship. If there’s ever a moment when you start to think that your partner isn’t healthy for you, you need to know it’s ok to step away.
Step 2: Talk it out on an even playing field
Relationships rely on communication. But sometimes communication can be one-sided. You need to talk to your partner about what you need from your relationship, but make sure you do it in a way that they get to express their side too.
Do it face-to-face and in a place where you both feel comfortable. If you share a home, do it there. But keep it out of the bedroom and never do it when you’re not both in a good mindset, like if you’re both exhausted. If you don’t share a home, don’t do it in a place that’s owned by one of you. The other person will feel like they have less power in the situation.
Do it in a place that is safe and neutral for both of you. Maybe go for a walk in a park or on a hike. Find a space where you both feel comfortable and that’s fairly private.
Step 3: Empathy and sorry’s don’t have to be scary
We sometimes fear saying sorry. It’s an admission that maybe we weren’t in the right when we did something. It can feel as though saying sorry means losing some power. But that’s not the right mindset to go into when you’re going to talk to your partner about an issue with the relationship.
Understand that this is not a matter of right or wrong. It’s a matter of emotion and where you guys are. Maybe you told your partner something that you thought was really good advice, but it upset your partner. And you still think that what you said is right. It doesn’t matter if what you said is right. It still hurt your partner and made them feel a certain way.
Understand that sorry isn’t an admission of being wrong. It means that you understand that something upset your partner, you’re acknowledging it, and you want to make an effort to not make your partner feel that way in the future.
Step 4: Be careful about what you’re saying to other people
When things are going wrong in a relationship, we often look to outside help. Usually, that means friends and family. It’s important to understand that your friends and family love you and that can manifest itself in a certain bias.
Your friends have known you forever and your family even longer. They have loved you for a long time, much longer than when you introduced them to your partner. They likely have a connection to you that’s different from the connection that they have to them. So if you come to them saying, “My partner did this,” they will likely respond by affirming your emotions and, potentially, strengthen them.
It’s not uncommon that we talk to our friends and they tell us that we’re in the right and our partner is wrong. That feedback loop will only make your reaction stronger and, suddenly, you think your partner is absolutely, completely wrong too.
This feedback loop then gets taken home with you and you talk to your partner believing that they are absolutely completely wrong. You’re no longer empathetic to your partner because you now believe that their side of the argument doesn’t have any merit. Be aware of what you say to others and of their bias to your point of view.
Always remember, if you want to save a relationship, being right and wrong and the blame game should be put aside in order to really hear each other.
Step 5: Understand that you might go to bed angry and that’s okay
Staying up all night talking isn’t going to solve a problem as much as TV might want to tell you it does. In all likelihood, if your relationship is struggling, one really long session talking about your issues isn’t going to solve everything.
In fact, staying up all night is just going to make you both exhausted and more likely to say something you don’t mean. It’s okay to call a time-out. If you’ve been talking it out for hours already and you’re just feeling angrier, take a step back and understand that maybe it’s not the right time to talk.
Maybe one of you had a horrible day at work or you don’t feel in the right headspace to be talking about something as serious as the problems you’re having in your relationship. Or maybe you’re having family issues and you just really need your partner to hold you.
It’s okay to call time-out and say, “I need this right now. Can we do this and talk tomorrow?” Just keep in mind how often you’re doing this as it’s unfair to continue to ask this night after night. Eventually, you will have to talk it out even if it’s unpleasant.
Relationships are give-and-take. You need to give your empathy and take time to communicate. If you truly believe that you want to save your relationship, put in both time and empathy to get back on track. With a commitment to open communication and honesty as the foundation of how to save a relationship, you can get there together and rebuild the love you both want and deserve.