“Eventually you will come to realize that love heals everything, and love is all there is.” ~Gary Zukav
I was always a hopeless romantic. Since I was a little girl, I craved love and the fairy tale romance.
Growing up in a two-parent home, I was very fortunate to see that it was, in fact, possible. In my teen years, I remember fantasizing about the cute boy with the dimples and how he would take me to prom and eventually carry me over the threshold after our wedding night.
I thought that all relationships were unicorns and rainbows, but after a series of failed relationships and two marriages by the tender age of thirty-two, I realized that relationships are hard work, and that in order for it to be successful, it has to be a two way street.
You can’t force someone to love you. You can’t force someone to change. And you can’t push your values, beliefs, goals, dreams, and visions on someone else. Unfortunately, I learned that the hard way.
The reality is that relationships are a series of ups and downs, and sometimes, they are downright confusing. Before you throw in the towel, remember why you started. If you’re going through a rough patch in your relationship, try these seven things to help bring it back to life.
1. Stay positive.
I know it’s hard to keep a positive spirit when you feel like your relationship is falling apart. Take the time to really focus on what’s right, the things you love, the stuff that’s going well, and the good times you’ve had together.
When you’re discussing your relationship, highlight the good stuff and minimize the bad. You’ll feel better, and so will your partner.
I used to tell all my girlfriends about all the wrong my partner was doing and found that the more I looked for the bad, the more it showed up. But when I focused on the good things about him and why I still loved him, it made me appreciate him that much more.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you don’t deal with pressing issues or forget the problems at hand; it just means that you change the conversation to one that’s empowering to the relationship.
Let go of your anger and annoyance about small things that irritate you. It won’t be easy, but every moment you hold on to poisonous feelings is another moment that will steal your chance to be happy with the person you love.
2. Remember that no one is perfect.
You must always remember that no one is perfect—not even you. As long as you and your partner are trying and open to growth, there is still hope.
Remind yourself why you fell in love with them in the first place. We all have our own quirks and bad habits, and we expect our partners to love us despite all of that. Give them that same respect and understanding.
The downfall of my failed relationships was always that I demanded control. I wanted to be right in every situation. I wanted to prove something, and I failed miserably every time. No one won, and the relationships turned sour as resentment built. It’s not about being right or wrong; it’s about opening up, listening and understanding where your partner is coming from.
3. Love yourself first.
Loving yourself and working on yourself is the beginning of all change, whether the change is in you or in someone else. Simply put, you can’t change someone else, but you can encourage change in those around you by the love, positivity, radiance, and growth you reflect.
Spending your energy on pushing others to become what you want them to be will only detract from your own growth. Instead, focus on yourself and progressing in your own way. Live as an example for what you want to see in those around you.
4. Make decisions from the heart.
Ask yourself what you’re really trying to achieve in your relationship; ask yourself why you are with this person. If you really love your partner, is that reflected in how you act toward them, speak to them, or treat them? If someone were to see how you act in your relationship, would they be able to see a couple that really loves each other?
If not, it may be time to start making decisions and actions based on the love and respect you have for your partner. Just like in the previous tip, you can’t just think you want something; you have to have action and feeling behind it.
If you love your partner and really want to make it work, then take the necessary steps and commit. But know that both of you have to be on the same page. A relationship can’t be one sided. If you do the best you can to make it work and it still doesn’t, at least you tried.
5. Lead by example.
Take responsibility for your wrongdoings in the relationship. We are all so quick to blame our partners for why things went wrong. Look at yourself first. Take a day (or two) to observe your own behavior. Be honest about whether you have a mean edge in your voice or a condescending tone when you talk to your partner.
Try to think before you speak to your partner, take a few deep breaths, and then say what you need to say coming from a place of love. Fully engage with your partner and really listen when he speaks. You really do get what you give.
6. Start doing things you love.
Find what makes you feel loved. Find what makes you feel alive and invite your partner to be a part of it. People that really love each other want to see their partner light up, have success, have fun, and live life.
Likewise, help your partner discover what lights them up and fills them with joy. Sharing these experiences together can spark up a dull flame, especially after years of just existing in the relationship.
This could be something simple, like doing starting a hobby or a club together, or something big, like starting a business with your partner.
I remember when my partner and I started our clothing business together. It brought us so much closer. We worked together and thrived in the business, and were able to bring that into the relationship. We had things to talk and strategize about and were able to bring those skills into our marriage.
7. Go on an adventure.
Take risks. Do something fun. Do something scary. Try something new together. Think outside the box and take the relationship to a whole new level.
Try skydiving, bungee jumping, or take trapeze or surfing lessons together. Infuse fun and adventure back into the relationship. These moments will be sacred and last forever. The thrill, the adrenaline, the rush of doing something out of the ordinary can bring more life into a relationship than you can imagine.
If you want to salvage your relationship, you have to be willing to do the hard work, self-reflect, and then take action to balance your partner’s needs with your own. When things start to slide back, always remember to bring out your best self and treat your partner respectfully.
Relationships are meant for growth, not comfort, and even if you try all of these tips, it still may not work. The beauty of it all is that you are preparing for the best relationship of your life, whether it be with your current partner or a future one.
Every relationship happens for a reason. When you live and love with intention, awesome things start to happen.
Jumping couple image via Shutterstock