Relationships can be difficult, and in the midst of an argument or when hurtful words are said, giving up and walking away may feel like your best option. However, there are other paths to consider before deciding to end a relationship.
First, it’s important to remember that every couple struggles from time to time. Common struggles include disagreements about:
- How you spend your time (whether with friends, family, or time alone)
- Household chores
- Child-rearing approaches
- Overall conflicting priorities
Many of these issues couples face can be resolved. Attending couples therapy can be a great help. In fact, one study published in 2011 found that couples therapy positively impacts 70% of couples receiving treatment.
Still, where therapy can help in most cases, if you or your children are experiencing abuse, physically or emotionally, it’s time to leave. For immediate support, call the Domestic Violence Support Lifeline at 800.799.SAFE (7233) or visit their website at www.thehotline.org.
Things to try before giving up on your relationship
Below are seven different ideas to try before giving up on your relationship.
1. Pinpoint what emotions you feel when thinking about the relationship.
You may feel frustrated, angry, or hurt, but digging past these emotions is important to get to the root issues. For example, if you are feeling resentful, it likely didn’t start that way. It could be that you feel left out of their life, and that brought up feelings of rejection, which later turned into resentment as a way to protect yourself from further hurt. Once you understand the core problem, you can begin to address it.
- Write what you feel in a notebook.
- Ask yourself why you feel that way.
- Write down the event or emotion that comes to mind.
- Continue this exercise, working your way backward until you find the issue, incident, or hurt that started the trail of emotions.
2. Get clear about your expectations for the relationship.
Often, when couples argue, it is because expectations for the relationship aren’t clear. You may find that only one of you wants something you thought you both did. Wanting different things isn’t a dealbreaker, though. You simply need to understand what is important to you and your partner and create a plan around it.
Start by writing out what you need from your partner, both physically and emotionally. For example, do you need dedicated time together that is planned in advance? Do you need your partner to be okay with you going out with your friends on the weekends? How often do you need reassurance?
Before you share these expectations with your partner (and visa versa), put yourself “in their shoes.” If they asked the items you listed of you, would you find them reasonable and relatively easy to accommodate?
This exercise will help you gain a clear picture that the two of you can then create a practical plan for.
3. Change your routine.
Sometimes, you need a change of pace to remind yourself why you fell in love with this person to begin with. Consider going on vacation or swapping chores for a week. Another option is for each of you to describe your perfect day and then take turns living that out. This will help you understand your partner better and may reawaken your appreciation of them.
4. Improve your communication skills.
Take some time to discover what works for you. How do you best give and receive information? When approaching major topics, consider writing down what you would like to say to your partner before bringing it up. This will help you organize your thoughts and keep your emotions in check.
Sometimes, conversations can become heated. Don’t be afraid to take a break and return to the topic later. If you become angry, try breathing techniques to calm yourself.
5. Determine if your past is influencing how you feel about your partner.
A current partner can sometimes trigger feelings from parents, former partners, or past friends—even traumatic instances in your past. Past hurts can influence not only how you view your partner but also how you respond to different situations.
For example, if your prior boyfriend or girlfriend spent all their free time on their phone, you may become frustrated when your current partner is on their phone for any reason. Therapy is a great space to work through these issues if your past impacts your current relationship.
6. Check on outside influences.
Support and advice from loved ones is important to have in any relationship. However, sometimes outside influences can come between you and your partner. Examine those around you. What do they have to say about your relationship? If what they have to say isn’t positive, are their criticisms valid, like in the case of abuse? If not, it may be time to have a conversation with them and put boundaries in place.
Social media is another crucial influence to keep an eye on. It may be time to take a break if it leads you to compare yourself to others.
7. Play a “get to know each other” question game.
Asking each other questions is a way to spark new and exciting conversations. Consider trying out different card question games (there are apps for this as well) to take you back to better times and create a safe space for both hard and fun conversations.
How counseling can help
Counseling is a great tool to help you understand both yourself and your partner. It provides a space where you can discuss your concerns and receive guidance from an unbiased opinion.
There are two routes you can take when it comes to saving your relationship through counseling.
This is a great option if you are working through past hurts that are impacting your current relationship or if your partner isn’t comfortable coming with you. It’s an excellent opportunity to get to know yourself and learn skills to improve your relationship.
Couples counseling works best when trying to repair a relationship. It can help identify issues from an unbiased perspective and give you each the tools to mend them. Because you attend counseling together, you can both learn and grow from the experience.
No matter the route you take, counseling can benefit your relationship as well as your overall well-being. If you’d like additional relationship support or have other mental health concerns, reach out to us on our contact page or call 616-200-4433.