5 steps to improve a failing relationship
There are many reasons why relationships fail — from trust issues to infidelity to something as simple as a lack of communication.
Whatever the reason, if you’re not ready to give up on your relationship yet, there are many sources you can rely on or things you can do to try and improve matters. Try our 5 simple steps to improve a failing relationship and see if they help you.
Step 1: Learn to Communicate
Though we called it simple in the introduction, a lack of communication is one of the most common reasons relationships fail.
There are many reasons communication dwindles in a relationship. You may never have been that good at communicating in the first place or if you’ve been together a long time, you may have stopped listening to each other over the years.
Communication is a two-way street. To improve it, you both need to actively be working on both expressing your feelings and actively listening to your partner. Without both of you putting the effort in, your communication won’t improve.
Active listening involves giving your partner your full attention. Don’t just hear them, but look at them and empathize with them. This means no interrupting, no excuses, and no anger.
Similarly, when expressing your feelings, you should avoid using accusatory terms or placing blame wherever possible. Communicate the way you’re feeling while recognizing that may not have been the intention.
You also need to be completely transparent and honest about your feelings. Don’t continue to bottle things up because you feel like it’s the easier option, but that could be what got you in this mess in the first place. Even if you feel embarrassed to begin with, the more you communicate the easier it will get.
A great tip to improve communication is to have a weekly couples meeting. It means you’re sharing at a scheduled time, not when emotions are running high like after a fight. It also shows commitment from both sides to make the time to resolve communication issues.
Step 2: Own Your Flaws
Nobody is perfect, you included.
While one partner may have been behaving more selfishly, it’s very likely that you behaved in a manner you wouldn’t usually as a reaction to their behavior, as a minimum.
More often in relationships that are equal and don’t involve narcissism, infidelity, or abuse, both partners are at fault in some manner. Which is totally okay, you’re only human after all.
What you need to do to improve your relationship is own those flaws and behaviors. Unchecked negative behaviors can lead to the other partner feeling exasperated and exhausted. This often leads to them wanting to leave the relationship.
If either of you are always making excuses like “I said that because I was tired” or making empty promises to stop without following through, you have unchecked negative behavior.
It’s not difficult to resolve either. You might take a little hit to your pride, but the rewards and personal growth are worth it.
If you know your partner is right and you’re just disagreeing. Try agreeing with them and apologize.
This should be a real apology, not a simple “I’m sorry”, though that’s a good start. Recognize the reasons you’re doing it, the harm you’re causing, and talk about how you can resolve it together.
Owning your behavior can help rebuild your relationship. You can work on letting go of the resentment built up towards each other and focus on the good that brought you together in the first place.
Step 3: Learn Each Other’s Love Languages
Communication isn’t all verbal. People express themselves in many different ways. In fact, it’s argued there are five main love languages:
- Words of affirmation
- Quality time
- Physical touch
- Acts of service
- Receiving gifts
Words of affirmation are verbal expressions, for example telling your partner you love them or appreciate them. Quality time is spending time together, for example, a trip to the beach or a meal out. Physical touch doesn’t only refer to sex, but any physical affection such as holding hands or hugging.
Acts of service refer to small nice acts to help the person you love, for example washing the dishes or putting gas in their car. Finally, receiving gifts is quite self-explanatory, but it doesn’t only refer to extravagant gifts. It’s the thought and effort behind the gift that is the expression of love in this instance.
Everyone has different love languages and it’s so worthwhile discussing what yours and your partners are. This way you can both make sure you’re expressing how you care for each other in the manner your partner can best receive and understand it.
Step 4: Have Fun Together
While relationships are often hard work, it shouldn’t be like that all the time. But in long-term relationships, it’s common for the fun to feel like it’s left the building, in a literal sense if you live together!
It’s so normal to get bogged down by daily life as a couple. Chores, work, obligations all begin to take priority.
Look back to when you first started dating. Presumably, you had a lot of fun together once or you wouldn’t be together now and fighting for your relationship.
Studies have shown that couples that have fun together have increased intimacy and relationship satisfaction.
So this one’s simple, bring the fun back. Make time to do things you love together. Go out and explore the world.
Step 5: Seek Professional Help
Professional help shouldn’t be seen as a last resort. Many couples benefit from it, at all stages of relationships. Even when things are going well, professional help can help you learn to better communicate to build a more solid foundation for when things do get tough.
There are many professional services available to help couples. This includes couples counselors, psychologists, or spiritual directions like JR Mahon. You can pick whichever feels best for your unique relationship.
When Not To Save A Failing Relationship
There are some instances when the advice above will not work. This is when it’s definitely time to end the relationship. If your relationship exhibits any signs of abuse, whether that be verbal, emotional, financial, or physical, you should leave the relationship as soon as possible.
Improving your failing relationship comes down to communication, honesty, and effort. Without this on both sides, your relationship will struggle and you should seek professional help where needed.
You can find much more helpful relationship advice on our website. While you’re there see what else we have to offer!