8 Ways to Help Heal a Relationship
January is known as a prime time for a divorce. Lawyers have nicknamed the first Monday after the Christmas break as “divorce day” because of the number of calls they get asking about divorce consultations.
Part of the reason for this is because people thinking about breaking up don’t want to do it over the holiday season. They want that “one last Christmas” as a family either for the sake of the kids or just because the holidays can be a sad time anyway and ending a relationship during that time can seem heartless.
In some cases, holiday stress can contribute to problems that prompt divorce considerations. No matter what the reason, there are plenty of people who think about breaking up with their significant other this time of year.
Before you do that, there are some things to consider including whether the relationship can and should be saved. Instead of calling a lawyer, try these eight ways to save your relationship to give it one last shot.
- Don’t rush to a decision.
You can always break up later but will find it harder to reconcile once you do. For this reason, don’t rush it. Another is saying that you should never decide while you are angry because those decisions tend to be based on emotion rather than logic.
Jessa Zimmerman, a certified sex therapist and couples counselor, said the more history you have together determines how long you should wait to make a decision.
“The longer the relationship and the more invested (think kids), the more you should take your time and be sure about what to do,” she said.
The truth is most problems can be worked through if couples decide they are willing to put out the effort. Things that are considered “relationship investment” include the length of time in the relationship, co-owing a house, and children.
- Be honest with your partner
You can’t fix a relationship by yourself. It takes two to create a relationship and two can mess it up. You need to have an honest conversation with your partner about why the relationship isn’t working. This shouldn’t be a fight or an ultimatum, but you should talk about your concerns and feelings to let them know it’s a serious issue.
“Be kind but totally honest,” Zimmerman said, adding that you shouldn’t blindside your partner. “This is the time when there’s nothing to lose.”
- Get therapy.
Professional help with these types of situations is never a bad thing. Dr. Margaret Paul, who counsels couples, said it’s important to have the view of an object expert on your situation. Talking with someone who knows and understands common problems couples face could help in getting out of them. Don’t wait on your partner to warm up to the idea of counseling either, as sometimes a partner can be resistant. Go alone if they aren’t willing to go. At least that way you can get some help dealing with your side of the issue.
- Take responsibility for your part of the problem.
Problems in a relationship are typically never the fault of one person. It takes two to create them, so own up to your part in it. Dr. Paul said most don’t realize how they are contributing to the problem because they are so focused on their partner’ s shortcomings.
“Unless there is physical or emotional abuse. I suggest people stay until they have healed their end of the relationship system and are taking responsibility for their feelings,” she said.
- Work on healing yourself.
You will have to live with yourself whether you stay or go from this relationship. There is inner work that needs to be done to heal, no matter which direction you choose. Dr. Paul said many of the problems we encounter are related to our struggles we haven’t resolved. While many tend to blame their partner for their feelings, it is really up to you to fix those inner problems.
“If you have been making your partner responsible for your feeling and you are blaming your partner for your unhappiness, then it likely isn’t time to leave. You have your own inner work to do,” she said.
- Understand your partner has pain too.
It is easy to be so focused on the pain that you forget your partner is also human and can be hurting as well. Understanding they have pain takes away the attack-defend mode you are likely in and also puts you on the same team again.
“Remembering you are on the same team and the only thing you are fighting for is the relationship to thrive is key,” said Shula Melamed, M.A., MPH.
- Remember the good.
Many times, couples in trouble reflect only on the bad in the relationship. When you do that, it seems like it was all bad and that makes it easier to leave. There is also good in almost every relationship, except for those in abuse, so it is worth remembering that too before you make a decision.
In the movie “The History of Us,” a couple is on the verge of divorce. What stops the divorce is the husband begins remembering their history. In the end, he said there was too much good history to throw it away. So, remember all the parts of your relationship before you make a serious decision.
- Say “thank you.”
A recent study pointed out that couples who practiced common courtesy like saying “thank you” often stood a better chance of having a long-lasting relationship.
Gratitude is an important part of a relationship, according to Melamed. People who feel appreciated are more than likely to want to work it out.
“When you are at odds with your partner, it sometimes takes practice to be more present to how you are treating each other day to day and moment to moment when you are focusing on whatever the issues are that might be driving you apart,” Melamed said.
“Instead of taking for granted the things that your partner does on a daily basis to make your life together easier, better, run more effectively, acknowledge and thank them.”
Changing a few habits and implementing these strategies may help you save your relationship. It will, at the very least, make you a better person.