The 5-Step Plan To Fix A Relationship That's Struggling (That Actually Works)

You can still save your relationship with these actionable items.

woman pulling away from her partner Sjale | Shutterstock

If your relationship is struggling and you want to know how to fix it — but have no idea where to start — you can feel really frustrated and even afraid that it will never be the way it used to be or could be.

Maybe you’ve tried several things you’ve read in articles or other resources but nothing seems to have changed, and your relationship feels stuck and is hanging by a thread.

If you can relate, here’s our step-by-step guide (gleaned from 20 years of experience) to start you on the path toward fixing your struggling relationship.


Here is a 5-step guide to fix a struggling relationship (that actually works):

1. Assess your level of desire to be with your partner

So often, when a relationship is struggling, you rush to try to find a "fix" without first looking at whether you truly want to be with this person or not.


Before you launch into "fix-it" mode, take a few moments to quiet your chattering mind to allow that still, small voice inside that’s really telling you what you know to be true. You might hear something like:

  • "I love him the way he used to be when we were first together but he doesn't seem to want to be with me."
  • "I love her but I’m not sure I like her very much or the relationship."
  • "I can see ways I can be a better partner and I want this relationship to work."

Then give your level of desire to be with him or her right now as things are between the two of you a number between 1 and 5 (or whatever scale works for you).

Sometimes, when people are struggling in their relationships, they can see clearly that they like and want to be with the other person and the relationship enough to make some changes that will create more ease and love.

But, sometimes, there just isn't enough desire to change for this relationship and that’s important information to know.


RELATED: What To Do If You Feel Like Your Husband Doesn't Care About You Anymore

2. Be open to looking at your differences…differently

You, like everyone else, look at circumstances from your unique perspective as does your partner.

When you begin to NOT instantly make your partner wrong for having a different point of view from the one you have but rather genuinely want to understand them, you’ll drop the struggle.

When you let go of the "I’m right. You’re wrong" attitude, there will be an opening for understanding each other in ways you may not have seen before. This doesn't mean you automatically give up your beliefs in favor of your partner’s beliefs.


It does mean that when you drop the old "tug-of-war” rope, there is a window of opportunity for you both to find a solution to whatever is facing you at the moment.

3. Stop the killers of connection: blame, expectations, and assumptions

When you blame, assume, and hang onto expectations, you are feeding into the struggle.

Instead, allow yourself to speak from your heart, not from your automatic reactions. When you become conscious of your automatic reactions and patterns, you’ll be able to make more loving choices.

RELATED: How To Get Out Of An Unhappy Marriage Without Getting Divorced

4. Focus on what’s going right

So often, when a relationship is struggling, your mind chatter is all about what’s wrong and you completely miss moments of connection and love.


A coaching client of ours was so absorbed in what was wrong with her partner and how he wasn't emotionally available to her that she missed seeing opportunities when they presented themselves.

In fact, she discovered that he had given her openings to find out more about how he was feeling but she had been so focused on herself that she missed them.

Even if there are brief moments of connection — maybe a touch, making eye contact, or sharing a joke — take note of them. When you appreciate even the briefest of connections, they can grow.

When you focus on what’s wrong, that will grow as well.

RELATED: 15 Surefire Signs It's Time To Break Up With Him


5. Find the fun again

The way we look at it, life's too short to not experience love and enjoy each other. When you are so focused on your struggles and what's going wrong, it can seem very difficult to have fun with each other.

Even if you’re trying "date nights", those can turn into fighting over what’s wrong with both of you feeling more miserable and hopeless than before.

When you start focusing on what's going right, you may also start finding the fun again


If you haven’t had fun together for a while, start small.

Start by agreeing not to talk about what’s wrong but just enjoy doing something together. It might be watching a favorite movie or doing some activity together that you haven’t done in a long time.

Expand your definition of what "fun" is and maybe try something new.

If you’re open to seeing something different in your partner or your relationship — and if your partner responds even in the slightest amount — you can turn your relationship struggles into more love and connection.

RELATED: When Nothing Else Has Worked, Do These 3 Things To Save Your Relationship

Susie and Otto Collins are relationship coaches and authors who help couples communicate, connect, and create the relationship they desire.