Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fixing your relationship

Are you having problems in your relationship? Are they serious enough that you are concerned about a breakup or a divorce? Read on for tips on how to fix your relationship.

The first and most obvious step is to try to pin down what is wrong in your relationship. This is easier said than done, however. Sometimes, you only have an insight into your end of the things because of communication problems (a hint right there!). Or, you haven’t really listened to the clues your partner has been giving you as to why there are problems. So, the first thing you can do is to address your part of the equation. Has your partner been complaining about your behavior, words or actions? If so, really listen to what he or she is saying to recognize the problem on your end. If not, try to figure out if there is anything that you are doing or saying which is contributing to the problem.

The other part to this step is to try to determine what it is about your partner that is bothering you or causing the problems. Take some time to really think about this and how to express it in a constructive way. You should never attack or blame the other person entirely. This will only put them on the defensive which will make them unwilling to try to change.

The next step is to communicate! Really listen to your partner – don’t get defensive. Everyone is entitled to their feelings and to have them validated. Even if you don’t agree, you have to be willing to at least consider that you have some fault in the situation. Your partner will feel better if you agree to try to resolve their concerns. If you are the one with the concerns, approach your partner in a constructive way. You should always address the issues from your point of view. For example, you can say that your feelings are being hurt because of what they are saying to you instead of lashing out and saying he or she is doing something wrong. This will turn the issue into a two part equation instead of solely blaming the other person. Then, ask your partner for input into how he or she believes the problem can be solved before you start dictating what you think he or she should do. This validates your relationship as a partnership and makes both of you feel good about working towards a common goal.

Here is a tip. If there is a recurring problem as is often the case, I advise people to come up with a code word to use when it comes up again. For example, let's say one person always blames the other for everything instead of taking responsibility for their own mistakes. When they do it again, you can simply use the code word. That way, you don’t rehash the entire argument and you are letting the other person know quickly that they are lapsing back into the problem behavior. This actually can lighten the moment and approach the problem positively (pick a funny code word like hot dog) rather than in an adversarial way. Imagine this – “You forgot to remind me to pick up milk.”, “HOT DOG, HOT DOG!” - LOL.

The last step is to recognize when you need help. Some problems are too significant or ingrained to resolve on your own. The only way to fix your relationship in this case is with professional help. You can start with a self-help book or program. But, often you will need couples or marriage counseling. This is not an easy fix and it is often hit or miss. Not every solution works for every couple and you need to find a counselor with whom you both have a good relationship. To do this, you may need to interview or see more than one. It is also time consuming and can be expensive depending on your insurance. However, you need to decide what your relationship is worth to you. Is it worth some time, effort and money to save? If you are married, I can guarantee a divorce will be more time consuming and expensive.

Therefore, counseling is always worth a try and often works. Counselors can offer some very constructive and creative solutions to your specific problems. I am often amazed at how well it can work. Don’t just spin your wheels, though. If it isn’t working, then you haven’t found the right counselor. Or, in the alternative, one of you isn’t really interested in resolving your problems. If that is the case, then you will not be able to fix your relationship because it takes both partners who are willing and able to do that.

Most relationships can be saved if both partners truly desire that result. Often, it does take time and effort to get results. If you both are committed, though, you can fix your relationship.

No comments:

Post a Comment