Fixing a relationship is like playing with a kaleidoscope. Here's what you can do.
When you got married, you promised to love, honor, and protect each other at all times. Both you and your partner truly believed that you would be able to do this easily for the rest of your life. You both knew in your hearts "This is the person I want to be with forever." But why is this not so easy? Why doesn't it feel that way anymore? Why do you feel like he no longer "has your back?" Why can't you fix him? These are questions we ask ourselves at many stages of a relationship.
All relationships, including marriage, require an investment, a commitment, and a daily practice. Over time, that initial "glow" wears off and life gets in the way. You are two separate people joined together in the life cycle, which includes careers, children, stress, money issues, and all the other busyness we encounter along the path. There is a built-in cycle of ebbs and tides that we need to ride out.
Many couples get in a vicious cycle of becoming distant from each other and feeling disconnected. We have tendencies to crash into "victim mentality" when this happens. We find ourselves feeling alone and disjointed and wishing the other person would do something about it. At times, we might even fantasize about living without our partner, creating an illusion in our minds of how much better it could be with a more loving, supportive, and kind person.
In this dangerous scenario, you may find yourself trying to "fix” your partner. It may even seem romantic, as in the lyrics to a Coldplay song, "I will try to fix you." As beautiful as that song is, though, fixing someone else is impossible. Fixing a relationship is not, but it best begins with fixing yourself.
How willing are you to take responsibility for your part in the break and do whatever you can to fix yourself and not your partner?
Instead of blaming him or the situation, take action and be the first to make a personal change, without expecting him to change. It is like playing with a kaleidoscope: you move one small stone and it changes the whole design.
Since something is definitely not working, how about giving it a try? How about committing to make changes in yourself for the next 4 weeks, truly taking responsibility for your part, truly willing to "clean your side of the street" and then evaluating where you are? Making your current relationship work is often times much easier than scrapping it and starting over.
Here are 7 ways to fix a relationship. Choose your favorite ones and get started.
1. Recall a really good memory from the past of the two of you, perhaps something you did together when you were first discovering your love. Remember how it felt. Reconnect with that feeling that brought you together. Recreate the event in a new way to rekindle that old feeling. Consciously connect with those loving feelings while you remember and plan.
2. Get honest and ask yourself the questions below. Reflect on the answers in writing, if you can. Answering these questions will help you identify the role you play in the broken relationship.
• On a scale of 1-10, how committed are you to fully show up in the relationship?
• Which one of your needs is being fulfilled by him?
• Which of his needs are you fulfilling?
3. Put yourself in your partner's shoes. Get into his mindset and look at the situation from his viewpoint. People seek to fulfill their needs in different ways. If you were your partner, and you know him very well, what does he really need from you? Are you giving him what he needs or what you need? We have a tendency to give our partners what we need, not what they need. If what he needs is time with his male friends or time alone in his "man cave", give it to him. If you know your partner craves affection, give him a big hug. Lots of them. Look him in the eyes and truly appreciate who he is. He will feel it. When you fill his love tank, he will naturally want to fill yours.
4. Create a new habit of acknowledging your partner for something he did and for who he is daily. Thank him when he does something for you. Men more than women desire to be appreciated for little things they do outside of being "providers". Don't overlook his need for appreciation. It is normal to recognize what he hasn't done and what he could have done better, but when you change your focus and start seeing the small things he does on a regular basis, it changes your attitude to a more positive one. Funny how that works!
5. Surprise him with planning an activity that is outside of your comfort zone, maybe something you’ve never done together. If he's a sports fan and you are not, buy tickets to his favorite team's game or just sit and watch a game on TV together, without complaining. If he likes fishing and you would rather stay home and read a book, grab your book and join him for a morning or afternoon and quietly spend time together. Be creative with what he likes.
6. Think about a person you easily love and feel connected and close to, someone with whom you love to spend time with. Maybe it's your best friend or one of your children. Treat your partner the same way you treat them. Talk to him, be interested and present, and make him feel that he is really important to you.
7. Lose your negative self-talk. Every time you hear your inner critic judging or criticizing your partner, take control over its voice and dialogue with this voice. Change your self-talk to truly seeing your partner's positive behavior. What you see becomes your reality. See the good instead of the bad.
Taking these first steps to make changes in yourself will allow you to fully show up positively in your relationship. Do the best you can to be the best self you are. The results are up to both of you, but at least you've cleaned "your side of the street." With the concept of "energy attracts like energy", you will be surprised at how it affects the other person's behavior. Start today fixing yourself first and see where the next four weeks take you and your relationship to where you both want it to be.
Michal Spiegelman Balance Expert & Life Coach
For more amazing relationships advice, visit my site at balancedmoments.com.
More relationship expert advice from YourTango: