One of the common questions we hear when people reach out to us for couples therapy is “How do I fix my broken relationship?”.
Maybe the struggles we are facing have just arisen recently. Or maybe they’ve been going on for a long time even before we reached out for couples counselling.
So what are the things we can put in place to fix our broken relationship?. Quick wins that we can start working on immediately. The other is the longer-term things in which we can turn things around for good.
The first thing to say is that there is no one-size-fits-all remedy. Just as a doctor needs to diagnose the patient before prescribing a form of treatment. It’s the same in the relationship. There are areas that we need to strengthen in order for the relationship to work.
For example, people say that “we need to put ourselves first and not be so giving with our time and energy”. While this might be great advice for certain people, it’s also true that other people are VERY good at putting themselves first already, and for them, the path to balance is really the opposite!.
In that case, it would be to consider ‘what can I do to better support my partner in their needs?’.
Diagnosing the problems – the CAUSES, not the symptoms!
The first issue we have is that we need to understand the frustrations that we are experiences as the symptoms of a problem, not the ACTUAL problems themselves. So often we hear that the problem that we have is that we argue a lot, and it causes frustration and resentment. and it’s true that this is a sign that we have a problem… But what’s really going on underneath?
There is a single resolution you can make (and stick to!) that will transform the relationship right now. Please, identify and eliminate ALL negativity and criticism from the relationship. But my partner does this or that which I can’t accept, so I need to let him or her know I hear you respond…
And that’s right. It’s really important to ASK for what you want in the relationship – this could be support or more encouragement or a form of practical help.
Asking can be constructive and positive – we may like to imagine that our partner is a mind reader but just suppose for now that he or she is not!
The point where the asking becomes TOXIC is where it is infused with a tonality, facial expression or body language that is negative or critical that in a sense conveys more than the words themselves convey.
“Could you help with the washing up please?”, can be said with a number of different tonalities including truly toxic ones… Try it out yourself!
The challenge is that our habits often run deep. We may have forgotten how to communicate in this neutral, open way that is free from criticism or blame, at least with our partner.
When we are under stress, and we feel that we can’t cope. When our resources are typically low, this is when we get triggered. It’s like our reaction to the situation is disproportionate and we feel overwhelmed as our body is flooded with stress chemicals like adrenaline and cortisol.
If you’ve ever been in fear of your life you will be familiar with the “fight or flight” feeling.
While these chemicals are useful if you are running for your life from a predator, they are NOT conducive to great relationship outcomes!. If in our interaction with our partner we (or the other person) are triggered into this kind of stress reaction, our ability to be measured, considerate and have empathy are seriously hampered.
It’s therefore key that we do everything we can to minimize or eliminate these situations, and to find ways to better deal with them that avoid this level of reaction.
Whenever couples reach out for relationship counselling, one common factor in almost all situations is that needs are not being properly met on at least one side, and normally both.
Our needs are both physical and emotional. It’s really useful to understand what they are, how well they meet and what needs to change to enable us to meet those needs. The danger is when needs are unmet for a while. They will come out in the form of some frustration or conflict which will impact the relationship.
And while we usually find a way to meet our needs, certainly in the medium term, this may be in the form of dysfunctional behaviour that can lead us to regret later.
So if I’m not meeting my need for emotional connection with my partner for example, then maybe I’ll find another relationship that meets that need, or another outlet such as a pet.
It’s really worth focusing on this area because although we don’t have to meet all our needs together with our partner, we have to meet many.
if we are not meeting any or many needs together then we leave nothing of whatever relationship we started with.
These are all areas that we delve into in much more detail in our programs. We work together with you to put all this into practice, to help you fix your broken relationship.
If this resonates get in touch and we can see how we can help. You can put your relationship to the test now with our interactive online tool. With this tool you see where your relationship is working well and identify key areas for improvement: