You’re looking to save your relationship but it’s not in a great place. Where do you start? Can you even change a damaged relationship if your partner isn’t interested in doing anything? The answer is “Yes!” You can absolutely make changes, but you’ve got to approach your relationship in a new way. Today I’m sharing my three-step process to restart your relationship plus I have a special gift I made just for today’s article, so read on!
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Here are my three steps to restart your relationship right now:
Step 1: Restart Your Relationship with Yourself
The first thing you need to do to restart your relationship with your partner is to restart your relationship with yourself. If your relationship is in a crappy place, then you’ve been acting crappy (I say with love). You’ve likely been frustrated and unhappy for a while and this energy has been seeping into your relationship with your partner. Maybe you’ve been passive aggressive, withholding, nagging, silent, complaining, manipulative or raging.
If your relationship is in a bad place, you’ve been scared! This means the fear part of your brain has been running the show, which has resulted in some unhealthy behavior on your part. I know you want to blame your partner’s actions (or inactions) for the reason you’ve been acting this way, but that needs to stop right now if you want to turn your relationship around.
It’s time for you to decide who and how you want to be now, regardless of what your partner does or doesn’t do. This can be a tough pill to swallow, but it’s the medicine you need. If you want a different life, you’re going to need to be different.
You can scream it’s not fair all you want, but it doesn’t change the facts. I always say, the one in the most pain needs to change first and right now, that’s you.
But I don’t want you to change and be resentful. I want you to see this as an opportunity for growth. You don’t want to be this person you’ve often become in this relationship. You hate nagging and complaining. You don’t feel good about yourself when you’ve lost your temper or given your partner the silent treatment.
For example, maybe you’ve been reactive with your partner or raise your voice when you’re angry. Maybe you don’t share your feelings. Maybe you’ve been hiding your spending or lying in some other way. Maybe you get harsh and blaming with your partner.
Think about the ways you’ve been acting in the relationship that you don’t like. In other words, identify what you’d like to improve with who you are, and how you interact, in general. It’s time to decide who you want to be.
Again, I don’t want to hear about how this person is “making you” this way because no one can “make you” be any way. This is you and you need to take 100% responsibility for your behavior. You’re not a victim in this relationship, so blaming your partner for your behavior needs to stop right now.
Really think about it. How do you want to be in this world? Someone who is kind? Patient? Loving in all things? Compassionate with everyone? This crisis in your relationship is a call to action for you. It’s how the Universe got your attention and now it’s time to re-assess and think about why this struggle is here right now.
When our relationships are damaged and we’re still in them, then we’re damaged in some way – in our sense of self and who we thought we were.
See this as an opportunity – a time to be the kind of person you’ve always wanted to be. Not to “get your partner to act a certain way,” not to “have a happy relationship” but because this is how you want to show up in the world for yourself.
To help you restart your relationship with yourself (and your partner) I’ve created a special list of journaling prompts to help you define and get really clear with this step.
Believe it or not, this is really all about your boundaries. You decide who you want to be and how you react and then, it doesn’t matter what others do or don’t do, you act from this place – whether that’s your partner or anyone else.
Start acting mindfully throughout your day and taking full responsibility for your actions and reactions. It’s time for the real you to emerge.
Step 2: It’s Time to Tell a New Story
You can’t be in your relationship complaining and telling your friends, sister or therapist the old story of your relationship over and over and expect anything new to emerge! It’s time to tell a new story of your relationship. It’s time to tell the story of who you are now and what you’re creating now.
t’s time to talk about all the great qualities in your partner and all the reasons the relationship is what you want. It’s time to get a little delusional (as I mentioned in a recent podcast, having positive illusions about your partner is one of the research-backed keys to a happy, long-term relationship)!
As you focus on the positive you will see more and better things and your partner will pick up on this too. A belief is just a thought you’ve had over and over. You’ve had a lot of negative thoughts about your relationship up until now so, guess what? You’ve got a lot of negative beliefs about your relationship!
And don’t hold back on voicing your appreciation to your partner. In a 30-year study of marriage and divorce, researchers found that one of the biggest regrets divorced people had was not giving their partner more affirmations, encouragement and support either in words or thoughtful actions. And don’t just say, “I appreciate you.” Instead, be specific with your words: “I really appreciate how you woke up this morning and apologized for arguing with me last night. It means so much to me.”
Researchers have found that the couples who look for things to appreciate are happier and stay married longer than those who’re always looking for their partner’s mistakes. The best and easiest way to be appreciative and focus on the positive is to keep it simple and just focus on being kind. Kindness should be bottled as “Couples Glue.” It creates affection, bonding, validation and more kindness as your partner reacts in kind (pun intended).
I highly recommend you write down all the things you love about your partner and all the things you love about your relationship. I would make a daily list of what you appreciate and what you’re grateful for. I’d go all in on looking for evidence that proves you right, every day!
Step 3: Be 100 Percent Committed to 100 Percent Effort
If you’re not 100 percent committed to putting in 100 percent effort, things aren’t going to change. Now, if you’re not sure if your relationship is even worth saving, you’re in the wrong place. But, if you’re sure it is, then it’s time to go all in.
If you’ve really done Step One, then this is going to be relatively easy. If you’re truly committed to being a certain way, regardless of what your partner (or anyone else is doing), then you’re in the perfect place because you’re being honest and not attached to outcomes. If you’re kind and compassionate, then you’re not being that way until your partner acts a certain way – this is just how you act now. What your partner does or doesn’t do, isn’t the point. If it is the point, you’re being manipulative and that’s not what’s going to turn your relationship around.
This might sound harsh but, if you’re only acting a certain way so your partner will act a certain way that is conditional and manipulative. It’s fear-based and you can’t base a love relationship based on fear.
It always amazes me that we love a person so much and we’re afraid of losing them but, if they reject us in some way, we hate them. WTF? Them not wanting us isn’t a reason to decide they’re an asshole. They’re not wanting to act the way we want them to act doesn’t mean they’re wrong and should be punished and treated poorly.
This also helps you get out of your head this fear that you’ll be taken advantage of. If you simply act a certain way because that’s what you do everywhere, and there are no strings attached, then what advantage can be taken? Again, I’m not talking about giving 150 percent (that’s codependency) or giving when you’re resentful (also codependency) and I don’t ever want to hear that your partner “made” you do anything (that’s bullshit unless you’re an indentured servant).
Stop focusing on the outcomes of the relationship and, instead, focus on your internal outcomes. Didn’t it feel great today to act with love consistently? Aren’t you proud of yourself for acting not reacting? Don’t you have more self-respect that you didn’t lose your shit when something didn’t go your way?
Here’s the deal, if you train for a big race, but don’t win the race, you’ll still be better than you were originally because the training helped you! You got stronger and better at some skill. You gained perspective and patience. You’ve learned you can dig deep and be more. Even if you don’t win the race, you’re going to be more fit and healthy if you did all the training!
Understand you and your partner aren’t in the same place – you each have momentum in a certain direction and to think you’ll be in exactly the same place at exactly the same time is crazy. You’ve been working yourself up to where you are but your partner has their own pace and momentum that isn’t necessarily yours. It doesn’t mean they’re wrong and you’re right. It means they haven’t caught up to where you are. Again, this is why you don’t focus on what they’re doing, but keep the focus on what you’re doing.
At the end of the day, you’ve got to have faith in love, not fear.
Putting your faith in fear (I’m worried that, I’m anxious about, what if?) isn’t helping you. All it does is keep you in fear-based emotions like anxiety, frustration, impatience, worry, helplessness, hopelessness, resentment and doubt). You can’t create a loving, connected, fun relationship based on those feelings. No way. Never. Not going to work!
No matter what else, remember: Great relationships aren’t built in a day. Great relationships are built daily.