I begin by telling them that love is precious and we should try to save their relationship if at all possible.
I am committed to helping couples save their relationships and helping their love for each other be preserved and then thrive. As part of this commitment, I want to give you the first 5 things you need to know to save your relationship or marriage. This is the same information I give my coaching clients as they begin working on their relationship or marriage in coaching.
1: Assess the likelihood of being able to save your relationship
Couples fall into 3 categories when it comes to trying to save their relationship. Below are the categories and the likelihood of being able to save the relationship for each one.
A. You and your partner both want to save your relationship.
Can you save it? Almost certainly, if you get focused, effective coaching or therapy and work on the relationship.
B. You want your relationship to be different or you need to leave, yet your partner does not see a problem or is not willing to work on the relationship.
Can you save it? Likely, if you are coached through how to change your relationship dynamics and make the necessary changes.
C. You want to save your relationship, but your partner no longer wants to stay or has already left.
Can you save it? Yes, if your partner still reaches out to you. You will need to be coached on what to do to repair your relationship and bring the two of you back together. You will need to test out a variety of behavior until you find what works for your relationship.
2: Understand that you cannot change your partner as a way of trying to save your relationship
You cannot try to change your partner when your relationship is in trouble, because the thing your partner needs from you most is to be accepted for who he or she is. When you ask for change instead, your partner feels unloved and criticized. This is one of the ways resentment occurs in relationships. When a relationship is on the brink of falling apart, resentment is the last thing you want.
This does not mean that your partner can’t change and that your relationship can’t change. It does mean that no change will come from you asking or pushing for it at this point.
The only changes people make are driven by what they want, because they see the value in the change or experience the pain or cost of staying the same. The relationship needs to be stabilized before either one of these can happen.
If you think that part of saving your relationship is a required change on your partner’s side, you have two options:
A. Change yourself to change the relationship dynamic so that change in your partner becomes inevitable
B. Involve a third-party, an effective coach or therapist, to be the change agent for the two of you. Your partner is much more likely to change when it’s being asked of him or her by a third-party.
3: Understand the nature of relationships as a trade of needs for needs
Although relationships are about love and connection, there is also a level to relationships that is contractual. Don’t ignore this aspect of your relationship, or you put it in jeopardy. The contractual part of a relationship is no different from other contractual transactions, such as in business for example.
A business hires an employee to do a job. If the employee does not do his or her job, there will be consequences, warnings, meetings and eventually the business and the employee may part ways.
In a similar fashion, each person in a relationship has certain needs that it is their partner’s job to meet. If these needs are not met, there will be conversations, fights, threats, silence, and problems. If the needs are not ultimately met, the relationship will end.
Your job, when you are trying to save your relationship, is to find out what needs you and your partner both have that must be met by the other.
Two ways to find this out:
A. Become aware of the issues that are most troublesome between you:
Make a list of the running issues in your relationship. What does each of you ideally want as an outcome from these?
B. Become conscious of what you keep asking of each other:
Make a list of what you have been asking your partner for repeatedly and what he or she has been asking you for.
It’s ok if the needs and requests between you seem irreconcilable. When you work with a skilled third-party, you will be helped to negotiate meeting both of your needs at once.
4: The way to a better relationship is to work on you
On a certain very real and important level the state of your relationship is a reflection of your internal emotional state. This has to do with your biological make up, mirror neurons and projection, terms and ideas that are too involved for this short article.
Let it suffice to say that the state of your relationship can be significantly impacted as your change yourself. Here by “change yourself” I do not mean that you change yourself to be more of what your partner wants or what you think he or she wants. Rather I mean that you become more of yourself, more emotionally healthy and resilient, more self-accepting, more relationship-savvy and more emotionally mature.
This is why whether I am working with couples or individuals in a relationship, self-work is always one of the key parts of our work together.
5: Focus on the good
Changing your focus in the relationship starts to change the relationship dynamic. It will not completely heal an ailing relationship, but it will significantly aid the other changes you are making.
Instead of constantly focusing on what is not working, choose to observe what is good between you. Appreciate the kindness, generosity, consideration or support coming from your partner.
You don’t have to do this to the exclusion of seeing what needs work. You simply have to accept that some things are not working, and will be so for a while, as you work to improve the relationship. Then notice what’s right, on a daily basis, as a relationship healing practice.
I often have clients make a daily list of 5 things that their partner did right or 5 ways their needs were taken into account by their partner.
If there’s still some love between you, your relationship or marriage can very likely be saved. But you are unlikely to be able to do this alone. Love is precious. Get the help you need and save yours!
I am proud to report that when a couple works with me as their coach, with both partners showing up for coaching and participating, their relationship gets better 95% of the time. Even when just one partner in a couple works with me as his or her coach, the relationship gets better most of the time, as that one person changes the dynamics of what happens in the relationship.
If you are considering divorce, separation, or breaking up, consider getting coaching first, to see if I can help you save your relationship!