Article inspired by Brian Robbens, creator of Respark the Romance
(Note: Although we address women in this article, the contents are equally applicable to men.)
How to Save Your Relationship from a Breakup
You and your partner have enjoyed good times, survived bad times and experienced everything else in between. You’ve been through so much together and you don’t want to give up on your partner. How to save your relationship from a breakup when things look really bad?
Taking the trouble to work on a relationship can be rewarding and bring the two of you closer together. It’s easy to develop patterns of bad relationship habits, hurt feelings and bad communication (or lack of it). Such habits can destroy your relationship.
Your first consideration is that you need to be willing to look at issues honestly and then fix them. At the same time, you should be cultivating positive habits. Remember that knowing what not to do is as important as what you should be doing to keep your relationship on track.
6 Essential Steps to Safeguarding Your Relationship
1. Don’t turn away from your partner, turn toward him.
Say, for example, that he is seated beside you and says, “There’s a new movie starting this weekend.” Would you:
a) Grunt and continue staring at your cell phone;
b) Say, “Oh”;
c) Say, “Oh, great – what’s it called?”;
d) Look at him and ask, “Which one is it, would you like to go?”
In choice a), you’re turning away from your partner. You’re ignoring him and showing that you don’t give a darn.
Choice b) is also a turn-away, just a little less rude.
In choice c) you’re showing interest, so that one’s okay.
In choice d), you’re clearly turning toward your partner. You saw that he was reaching out to you; you acknowledged him and reached back.
There’s no doubt about which response will make your partner feel closer to you.
We all make efforts to connect using little gestures like this. We initiate a conversation, try to engage the other person and show that we care. If you identify with these points, your partner will see that you notice and appreciate him.
By turning toward your partner, you will be building communication, romance and trust. You will also be avoiding anger or hurt feelings. Men are more sensitive than they are likely to show!
When you reach out and your partner doesn’t engage or take notice, don’t become angry. He might not realize what you’re doing. You can explain in a kind way that you’d like to connect more, and that was simply your way of reaching out to him.
Honesty and openness go a long way and so does sharing your desire to make things better.
2. Avoid the ruthless conversation start-ups.
Flying at your partner with statements or criticisms that begin with “never” or “always” destroy communication. An example of this would be: “You always leave everything to me around here!”
A better way to start the conversation would be: “It helped so much when you did the shopping yesterday!”
If he hurts or annoys you, start with something gentle, such as: “There’s something bothering me and I don’t think I can shake it off unless I talk to you.” You will want the conversation to have a positive outcome. You’d have a much better chance of success if you begin with a “team” mindset, rather than attacking.
3. Avoid the 4 toxic habits.
These four elements destroy relationships more rapidly than anything else:
No-one appreciates being criticized. It’s better to speak about your partner’s offending action than putting him down. Praise him for positive behavior – he’s sure to respond well to that.
Defensiveness is trying to defend yourself, or explain yourself, when he tries to talk to you. It’ll feel as if you’re telling him he’s wrong.
Stonewalling usually follows the previous two happenings. This refers to one partner avoiding the other, not talking, or giving the cold shoulder. Sometimes the partner will remain physically present but ignores the other.
These first three actions lead to contempt, which is like the last straw that breaks the back of the relationship.
Contempt results when a person cannot tolerate another. The person might use sarcasm, mock, roll her eyes, gossip, sneer and display absolute hatred. It’s as if she took all her negative reactions and emotions and compacted them. You will not want your relationship to reach this point.
Take steps to iron out problems as early as possible. If you notice any of these behaviors in your relationship from either yourself or your partner, ask him to sit down with you and have a talk. Use methods of communication such as those listed here.
4. Don’t focus on the negative. See things in a more positive light.
No matter the situation, if you have a negative mindset, you’re not going to be happy. And no-one will want to stick around in a negative environment. This applies also to your relationship. You can choose to fixate on negative things and cling to them or you can choose to look for positive things.
People have a tendency to assume the worst. Why not try to develop a habit of assuming the best about your partner? Tell yourself that he had the best intentions; if he happened to say or do something that hurt your feelings, it was just an accident. Give him the benefit of the doubt.
In any situation, try to see things in a more positive light. This takes practice; however, after a while, you’ll be amazed at how your relationship and your life are changing for the better.
5. “Check in” with your partner.
Some couples reach a point where they don’t check in with each other. They pass many milestones before they reach that point. You might ask him, “How was your day?” without really knowing what’s going on in his life.
Do you connect well enough to know what’s stressing him? Do you know what he’s excited about and what he’s trying to achieve? Think of some unexpected questions to ask him. How’s the atmosphere at his place of work? Has he met any new people? What is he hoping will happen this year? In the next five years? Does he have any concerns about life right now?
The point here is to reconnect and truly understand each other. You might discover that your partner has had to deal with something that happened to affect your relationship negatively, and you didn’t know.
6. Replace “I understand” with “I hear what you’re saying”.
Wording can make such a difference when you think about what you’re trying to get across. Some people would be annoyed when you say to them, “I understand” because they don’t believe that you really do understand. However, if you say, “I hear what you’re saying”, it signifies that you understand their point of view.
Saying “I hear what you’re saying” doesn’t necessarily mean that the person is right but it opens the door to further conversation (and an opportunity to further “connect”).
Other things you can say and maintain a more positive ambiance include:
- I see your point
- Am I understanding you correctly?
- Is there a way we can compromise on this?
- Okay, so you’re saying that.
- I want to understand this.
- I’m a little confused but I want to work with you.
Putting these 6 practices into action in your relationship will help you to connect better, communicate more clearly and appreciate each other more deeply.
If you want to take your relationship to a higher level and ensure you’re not missing anything, watch this free video introduction to “Respark The Romance“.