When you are feeling that your relationship is shaky or broken, then the first thing that should come to your mind is stopping it from falling apart and making your partner stay. However, if there is something seriously wrong, then convincing yourself to stay and your partner not to leave, without addressing the problem together, can be very difficult. While it might seem to make things better in the short term, it might turn to be not good enough and might even make things worse in the long run. Remember that you will not be able to continue building on a damaged foundation, which is also very true in relationships, which means that you and your partner must work together to re-build a stronger foundation. A healthy relationship always involves hard work and commitment. With this in mind, here are some pointers to fix a broken relationship:
1. Be attentive and hear your partner.
When your partner speaks, you should try your best to stay mentally present and listen. Take down your defenses and open your heart, as it is not about defending yourself, but about understanding your partner and trying to meet each other’s needs. Aside from hearing the words during your conversation, you should also be attentive to body language and non-verbal signs of emotion. Try to know what your partner is feeling through expressions. By doing so, you would find out about the needs that should be met, such as understanding, respect, control, companionship or, most importantly, love.
2. Avoid escalating the problem.
While you might think that you know how far is too far, this underlying knowledge does not always keep you and your partner from walking too close into destroying your relationship. Nevertheless, you will always have the feeling that you are too close to doing or saying something that your partner cannot get past. Instead of doing things that could worsen the problem, you can stop a heated conversation or interaction and take it to a place that is more caring. You should have a shared knowledge that certain ways of being or words might hurt either of you too much that it would be very difficult to heal. Such an invisible pact can certainly keep you from going over the cliff.
3. Show some concern.
If you have lost support and trust for each other, whether just recently or over a long period, you should still try to show concern when either of you expresses heartbreak. Aside from using soothing words, you should also show consideration for your partner’s distress using gestures, body language or facial expression, especially if you are currently being blamed for an issue. Keep in mind that compassion should always rule over dominance when your partner drops into heartache.
4. Be empathetic.
Once you understand what your partner feels, you should pay attention to what feelings you are having when you observe your partner feeling in such a way. It is important to look deeper for the tenderer and softer feelings. Remember that a person would often express anger when he/she is feeling lonely, sad or stuck, or would feel pain because he/she is in pain, so it is best to stay present with your partner and connect with his/her deeper experience. If you feel compassion, then you can let him know that his/her expression of anger or pain is affecting you deeply. It is very important to hear your partner’s distress, give advice and try to solve the problem. However, you should be careful in giving advice as it might be received as judgmental or critical, which can make things worse. And again, you should express compassion and stay emotionally engaged to establish connection and provide healing comfort.
5. Address the present issue and avoid using the past.
Most people tend to use other people and the past to gain more advantage when pointing out something and make it valid in the moment, which is especially true when they feel that they are losing an argument. They believe that fortifying their points with endorsements from other people or examples from the past will bolster their effectiveness. Now, this habit can be dangerous for your relationship and should be avoided. Instead, you and your partner should be good communicators, stay with the present issue and avoid talking about the past. Do not try to persuade your partner of a position that will satisfy him/her at your expense, and if one of you starts to falter, the other should bring both back to the issue at hand, which will be appreciated.
6. Take action to solve issues and be willing to change.
You should commit yourself to intentional action to meet the needs and address concerns of your partner. For example, you can help more with the dishes or call your partner during the day and let him/her know that you are thinking of him/her. When your partner feels that you are taking his/her concerns seriously, then he/she would feel more respected and valued, which can create a positive cycle where you will be appreciated and more loved. Do not worry, as you do not have to be perfect at this—just show that you care and are willing to change.
7. Maintain basic trust.
No matter how hurt, angry or vengeful either of you is acting towards one another at first, remember to maintain basic trust in your relationship when discussing to solve a problem. The issue that you are currently facing might undermine your relationship, but you should never state that your other half is unworthy of your respect and love. Keep in mind that trust is one of the essential foundations of a good and strong relationship.
8. Sustain energy in your relationship.
There will be no hope in a relationship to last long when there is no life or energy in it. Remember that a loving couple who will allow their relationship to wane into a complicated and lifeless set of rituals will face a huge burden down the road. While high and angry energy can turn into loving energy, deadness will be very difficult to revive. Of course, it might be difficult to imagine an angry couple to show any hope in the middle of their distressing conflicts, but coming to think of it, arguments can be a strong foundation of a relationship when both you and your partner are committed to replacing your old bad behaviors with new good ones. After you survived repeated negative patterns and changed them, you will most likely find your love again and regain your commitment. While this might take some time, you will definitely find the light at the end of the tunnel.
9. Hold accountability for yourself.
To fix a broken relationship, avoid the power play of pointing fingers as to who is to blame. Of course, there should be one who is at fault and should be properly dealt with, and fights between couples normally boils down to the assignment of accountability and appropriate consequences. Now, by learning to be accountable for your actions and accept that both you and your partner have a contribution to what has gone wrong, you will realize that you are playing a winning game. Remember that this would require some skills, but it would be rewarding to see things going to the direction you wanted.
10. Share humor with your partner.
There are distressed couples who allowed hostility between each other to take over their relationship. They would argue about how they address conflicts, yell at one another and would not be able to find anything worthwhile to listen to from the other. Now, these behaviors will lead a relationship nowhere, thus should be avoided. Instead, you should share humor with each other, have fun and be happy!
11. Express unconditional love towards your partner.
Most importantly, you should allow yourselves to deliberately reconnect with the loving feelings you have for each other, even after recent arguments that made you feel angry or distant. Think about the good qualities your partner has that appealed to you in the first place, remember the special times when you made hopes and dreams together and find a way to forgive yourselves for the mistakes both of you have committed. There are many ways to reach out to your partner and express your affection physically, such as writing a note or cooking a meal. Remember that love is shown with warm feeling and concern towards your partner’s well-being, so do not make your expressions of love conditional on what either of you does. If you are having trust issues that are hindering your ability to freely love your partner, think about ways to address them and rebuild trust.
You do not really need some form of therapy to fix a broken relationship and strengthen it, as it can be done between you and your partner, considering that both of you are willing to put yourselves aside and make your relationship more important than proving who is right. However, there are times that you will feel lost during the process, which means that a competent observer who can help you find your way is also useful.