When it comes to navigating your way out of a relationship in crisis, we’ve all heard this romantic advice before: Don’t go to bed angry and never go on “a break,” because we all know that’s code for breaking up. But when it seems like all you and your significant other do is fight, it’s time to take a serious look at the triggers that are creating the rift in your previously happy twosome.
We chatted with family therapist Dr. Tara Fields, author of The Love Fix: Repair and Restore Your Relationship Right Now, to get the 411 on how to exercise that love muscle and save a relationship on the brink in three simple steps.
Recognize the conflict loop
When you’re in the heat of an argument and tempers are flaring it’s so easy to fall into that nasty trap of trying to win the argument. “It’s so normal, it’s so human to be in that position where you want to be right and you want to be heard and understood. That’s what we all want, so what happens is you get into a conflict loop where each person is really battling to be right,” says Tara.
To break the loop, someone has to be the first to say, “Okay, I’m going to step back. I’m going to take a one-way ticket out of the land of me and move into a place of compassion.” Tara says it is only through compassion that we can begin to see conflicts as opportunities not only to repair the challenges in the relationship but to heal our own wounds as well.
Get in touch
Tara says that couples need to create opportunities to get in touch with the deepest needs of both partners in order to find gratitude, respect and trust. It’s a simple as this: No trust, no relationship.
“You must cherish trust like the most valuable commodity that you have,” Tara says. Trust also connects to one of the most important ingredients for tapping into your lover’s needs… intimacy. In order to have an intimate relationship, both people have to be present and willing to be vulnerable. “With technology, we’re becoming a society that is shy; we’re becoming a society that is almost becoming crippled when it comes to intimacy, so I always say you need some face-forward intimacy. One of my favorite three-minute fixes is to share with your mate three things you like about them.”
A little hope goes a long way
It sounds simple, but believing that you’re both truly worth the effort and not beyond repair is a powerful tool in healing a relationship that was headed toward self-destruction.
“The third ingredient I talk about in the book is hope. Couples come into my office and they’re feeling hopeless.” But by taking steps to work on the relationship, “they’re opening up to the possibility of hope,” says Tara. Things can get better; you’ve just got to keep hope alive!
What are your three tips for saving a relationship from imminent disaster? Tweet us at @BritandCo and let us know!
(Photos via Getty)