1. Look inward. Mahatma Gandhi once said: "Be the change you want to see in the world." This could also apply to love and relationships. Before picking apart your partner, consider the ways in which you could stand to improve. Perhaps you've become nagging or nitpicky because you feel underappreciated. Perhaps you've become cold or standoffish because you feel unloved. Perhaps you've become demanding of his time because you've stopped trusting him. Perhaps you wouldn't even want to be with you, if given half the chance. Consider the possibility that you've been playing off each other's behavior, unconsciously creating the problems that are now shaking the foundations of your relationship. Change yourself before trying to change your partner. Your shift in mood and behavior may inadvertently affect your partner in a positive way, making an ugly conversation unnecessary.
2. Carefully consider your deal breakers. Make a list of what you'd like to change about your partner. Then ask yourself several questions about each item on your list:
- Why was this not an issue at the beginning of our relationship?
- Is it worth it to break up our relationship over this issue? Is it truly a deal breaker?
- Can this problem be fixed with a compromise?
3. Try to understand why compromise might be necessary. A number of things may have gotten you to this desperate crossroads in your relationship. Family of origin issues. Life changes. Career setbacks or personal tragedy. People can change, yet still love each other. Understanding the issues behind your differences may make you more open to compromise, or even just acceptance.
4. Approach your partner. If, after all this, you still want your partner to change, ask him if he has time for a chat. Tell him that you love him, and tell him why. Tell him that you want to make this relationship work. Then, explain that you feel a certain way when your partner does BLANK. Put your feelings first, and his action second: "I feel lonely when you work on your computer all evening instead of talking to me." Not, "When you work on the computer and ignore me it's pretty crappy."
Ask your partner to repeat your words back to you, to show that he's truly hearing and understanding what you're saying. Have a calm and rational discussion about how this can be dealt with. Then, invite your partner to take a turn. What would he like to change about you? Be open to the fact that you could both stand to improve. 9 Things To Say During A Fight
5. Take action. Are you both willing to compromise and work on your relationship? If your partner is not willing to compromise on an issue that is truly important to you, it may be a sign that the relationship is not as important to him. If this is the case, you'll need to reevaluate the viability of your relationship. If, however, he is willing to work things out, dive on in!
Be mindful that you're both making the effort to change. Give each other positive reinforcement. While many of us can be quick to criticize or complain, we may not be as generous with our praise. As your relationship improves, the compromises you're making will cease to matter. Hurrah! And of course, as time goes on, reevaluate. Are you guys getting lazy, backsliding into unhealthy relationship habits? Renew your solemn vow to make things work. Remember why you love each other.
My husband and I made a commitment to change, and now our relationship is stronger than ever.
How have you compromised to maintain your relationship?