Relationship rescue: the vital signs
All relationships will encounter problems at some point, just as no person is perfect, no relationship is either. If the problems are severe, or have been going on for a long time, it is natural to think that maybe the relationship itself isn’t working. None of us are getting any younger and no-one wants to spend months, or even years, with someone if the relationship is unhappy and shows no signs of improving. The trouble is knowing when to walk and when to stay so here we look at some of the signs which indicate there is hope that the relationship can improve.
Good vs. bad
The first thing to look for is whether there is more that is good about the relationship than there is bad. Maybe there are lots of areas where it is working but these don’t get as much attention because you are both focused on the problems between you.
When you look at the relationship as a whole including social life, work, home, family, domestic responsibilities, financial affairs, emotional support and sex life how many of these areas are working well? Often when people break it down like this they realise that there are many more areas where their relationship works really well and the problems are confined to just one or two areas. Knowing there is more good than bad can give you the important hope you need to carry on and work through whatever problems you are having together. If it is more bad than good then perhaps the relationship has come to a natural end.
Inside vs. outside
The next thing to do is to look at where the problems you are experiencing are coming from. Sometimes the problems are outside the relationship like redundancy, housing or illness of a parent. Even though they are outside the relationship they impact on it and can make people snappy and irritable and before long it feel like the relationship itself is in trouble. The way to tell the difference is to ask yourself, if someone could perform a miracle and make the problem disappear – restore a job, give you a bigger house or make a parent better – would your relationship then be ok? If the answer is yes then the problem lies outside of the relationship and once it is resolved there is still a firm foundation to build on.
If the answer is no that suggests that the problems may be the result of the relationship not working rather than anything outside it. Often if a relationship is very unhealthy it can have ripple effects which can cause financial problems, insecurity and uncertainty in almost every aspect of life and no amount of miracles could make things right because the foundations of the relationship are unstable.
A team effort
Wherever the problems are coming from, and no matter how big or insurmountable they appear to be, if both parties are willing to work at the relationship then you have a really good chance of things improving in the future. If one person has already given up, or if there is strong disagreement about what the problem is or what needs to change, then it is unlikely you will be able to save the relationship.
You need to be both pulling in the same direction in order for there to be any real hope that the future can be better than the present situation. Once hope is gone there is very little left to work on. There are many people who stay together because they have kids or made marriage vows but they are at war with each other and every problem becomes a battle because they simply aren’t on the same side any more.
Whatever problems you are facing it is vital that you and your partner still connect with each other at some point. For some couples this will be a physical connection – they remain intimate despite the problems – for others it will be through talking – they are still open and honest when they talk and are able to laugh together sometimes. Most importantly there needs to be some way in which you show warmth and love towards each other.
Crisis or opportunity?
There is a Chinese word for crisis and it is made of two 2 symbols – one means danger and the other one means opportunity. When a relationship is in crisis there is a danger that it won’t be strong enough to withstand it. If it does survive then the chances are the bond and intimacy between the two people will be stronger.
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