Every relationship eventually reaches a point where both partners ask, “Why can’t it be like it used to be?” When the bad days outnumber the good, when you have thoughts like, “Is it time to end things?” it’s time to take a step back and decide whether you’re both in it for the foreseeable future.
Although it might be easy to give up and start over with someone new, this isn’t always the best option.
Don’t give up too soon! While change is possible, a complete lack of effort won’t be the thing that brings it – so read on to learn 20 ways to improve your relationship before giving up for good.
1. Talk to Each Another
If your relationship has taken a turn for the worse, you need to go back to the basics. Instead of having heated arguments, you just talk.
Be completely frank about the issue at hand, whether you believe it’s your fault or his.
Acknowledge that things are different now than they were before, and express your feelings of hollowness, frustration, and disassociation to your partner. If it achieves nothing else, at least you know that he knows what you’ve been feeling.
2. Consider Couple’s Counselling
If you and your partner find that you can’t interact effectively, consider seeing a counselor who is qualified to assist people in difficult relationships.
There’s no embarrassment in asking for help. In fact, recognizing when you need help from a third party is a sign of maturity.
Sign up for a joined therapy session and see how the two of you open up in an unbiased environment. Therapists are professionals for a reason.
3. Set Specific Objectives
Communication is crucial, and you can make it more effective by establishing concrete objectives and action measures.
Set clear expectations for the relationship rather allowing things to fall back into old patterns. Know what you want to achieve out of each therapy session and always check if you’re making progress or not.
4. Recognize that Change is Good for You
The most devastating expectation we can have from our partners is to expect everything to remain the same as the relationship progresses.
The person you love right now was a different person, and has changed now – but does that mean it’s for the worse? Absolutely not.
People change, and that’s beautiful. He is evolving into a butterfly on his own. Don’t impede his process.
5. Don’t Compare Your Relationship to Others
When we enter relationships, we always expect the other person to be our soulmate from the get-go and expect them to understand us.
Romantic comedies and celebrity couples have misguided us so much on what it takes to make a relationship work that we often work harder at destroying it rather than nurturing it.
Don’t expect a boom box outside your bedroom window or even a garland of roses every day. He loves you, just not in the crazy way you expect him to.
6. Communicate Correctly
Breaking up without a concrete reason, or worse yet, without communicating how you feel to each other, can be devastating.
You have all these feelings with nowhere to go. To have a secure relationship, the important part is to become a little better at communicating correctly. Check out 13 Tips for Communicating Effectively With your Partner for some ways to improve your communication with each other.
You don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, but you also need to be frank about why the relationship isn’t working out. Be kind and attentive when framing the situation so that your partner feels comfortable opening up to you.
7. Say Yes to New Things
If you’re stuck in a rut, try infusing your relationship with some positive energy. Like Jim Carrey in Yes Man, try saying “yes!” for a change – and yes, that means saying yes to things that you’ve never seen yourself doing.
Change your attitude to change your life and relationship. Be spontaneous for a change, and be open to trying new things together.
8. In With the Good, Out With the Bad
Make a promise to yourself to start over with a clean slate and a fresh start to see if you can have a happier future.
Practice consciously ignoring all of the negative events that have occurred during your time together – and instead, focus on the amazing memories that you love most.
This will help get rid of any bitterness, resentment, or sense of hopelessness in the relationship, and will allow both partners to appreciate each other for the good times they’ve shared – and not the bad.
9. Discover the Root of the Problem
What’s the real issue? Take some steps back to get a good look at your relationship as a whole, and figure out if the painfully hard components are superficial or a warning of something bigger to come.
Common problems can include:
- Frequent job travel
- Distance dancing
- Not having an appetite for sex
- Unequal distribution of household chores
- Economic issues
- Having a child
- Planning a wedding
- Career changes
- Arguments about family
- Mental/physical health problems
Once you’ve discovered the root of the problem(s) in your relationship, you’ll get a better idea if it’s something you can work through together.
10. Be Patient
If you’ve just had a raw, open discussion about your feelings, don’t expect any immediate changes to your relationship.
Discuss what isn’t working in your relationship or making you sad with your partner, and be patient. Encourage your partner to make the necessary adjustments.
Being respectful and allowing your partner to change their actions can mean the difference between a short-term relationship and a satisfying, long-term one.
Change takes time. Wait a while to see if things improve, and if they don’t, start reconsidering the relationship.
11. Go Back to Basics
Treat your partner the same way you treated them when you first started dating. This means:
- Putting him first
- Checking up on him
- Doing goofy things to make him happy
- Showing affection daily
- Making random little surprises for each other
One tiny secret: no matter how angry you are at one another, a warm, sincere chuckle is better than any therapy session. If his laugh makes you feel all fuzzy inside, he might just be the one!
12. Bring Back Spontaneity
Remember when you first started dating, and you’d do weird crap just to show your beau you were “laid back” and “chill”? Well, bring some of that back!
Go for tacos at 2:00AM or even bake cookies at midnight. Sit and watch all eight Harry Potter movies and draw lipstick scars on each another’s foreheads.
13. Tell Your Phone to “Buzz Off”
When you’re eating dinner or watching a movie together on the sofa, put your phone away. Life is always distracting enough, and wasting more time on your phone shows your partner that they aren’t a priority.
If you guys are having a bigger issue with communication, show your partner that you’re fully present, that you love them, and that you’re giving them undivided attention.
Actions speak louder than words, and can help your partner realize the depth of your feelings for them.
14. Figure Out How Much Work You’re Willing to Do
Sometimes, the work that needs to be put into a relationship seems like it’s never ending. But, if your relationship is down in the dumps, you’ve got to do it!
Make a concerted effort to make your partner feel loved. We know what you’re thinking: why should you be the one to put in all the effort? The answer is: because you don’t want your relationship to end.
Don’t focus on how much work he is putting in. Instead, do your own part, and keep doing it. You love him, and that should be reason enough.
At the same time, however, keep an eye on how much work he is putting into the relationship as well. It shouldn’t feel one-sided; a partnership involves two people – and it’s important to know that he wants the relationship to work as much as you do.
15. Think About How You’d Feel Breaking Up
Imagine what would happen if you and your partner broke up:
- What do you feel?
- Do you feel lost?
- Do you feel like the wind got knocked out of you?
- Do you feel relieved?
If you don’t see a future together or feel relieved at the prospect of breaking up, we don’t need to spell it out for you. Boy, bye!
However, if your eyes well up with tears thinking about the idea of ending things, then there are a lot of emotions inside you. Acknowledge them and think about what you want to do with them.
16. Trust Your Instincts
Whether you want to stay or go, make your decisions and trust yourself. If you think there’s progress to be made and ways the relationship can be improved, don’t give it up.
On the flip side, if you’re willing to leave, be bold enough to make that choice.
17. Understand Your Partner’s Love Language
People speak one of the five love languages:
- A good time
- Physical contact.
Their love language can be anything from giving a rose or gifts to your partner, massaging them, cooking for them, or really anything else – but the important thing to understand is that everyone’s love language is different.
Make sure you know what their love language is so that you know how to keep each other happy.
18. Change the Scenery
Life gets in the way sometimes. Our job, children, and everyday worries catch us by surprise with how much time they take.
If you’re overwhelmed with how much you have to do and how little time you devote to your partner, it’s a clear sign that the relationship isn’t bad at all—you just haven’t had enough time to nurture it. Take this post as a sign, and book a romantic weekend getaway!
19. Focus on the Positives
We’re all human, and make dreadful mistakes. We’re full of flaws. You’ve probably made many blunders in your life too!
Why not extend the same courtesy towards your partner? Yes, he’s made mistakes, and yes, you should call him out on them – but to abandon the relationship entirely means that it’s always been an option in the back of your mind, and shows that you’ve never entertained the thought of reconciliation.
Instead of focusing on his flaws, focus on his good qualities for a change.
20. Work on Yourself
Building upon our last point, no one is invalidating your feelings. Your partner might indeed have flaws – and he should work on them.
You’ve talked to them, confronted them, and cried about their behavior. They don’t seem to change, but you don’t want to lose them either. So what can you do?
You can work on yourself – it’s as simple as that. Work on all the things you do when you’re mad or sad, like becoming passive-aggressive, saying mean things or fighting till your gums bleed.
Even if they don’t change and you end up separating, you come out of it a better person.
The Bottom Line
To better see where the relationship is headed, you need to give it complete focus and attention and experience it for yourself.
Sit with your partner and talk it out. See where he’s at, and see how you feel when you hear his reactions. Assess what the two of you want.
Deep down, you probably already know if your relationship is worth saving – or if it’s time to call it quits.