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How to Fix a Relationship

These 10 tips on how to fix a relationship are both practical and romantic. Whether you’ve been married for 20 years or dating for a few months, you’ll find something useful in these tips for fixing relationships.

How to Fix a RelationshipIn Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help YouFind – and Keep – Love, Amir Levine and Rachel Heller offer scientific explanations for why some people seem to navigate relationships effortlessly, while others struggle. They also describe how each of us behaves in relationships in one of three distinct ways: 1) Anxious people are often preoccupied with their relationships and tend to worry about their partner’s ability to love them back; 2) Avoidant people equate intimacy with a loss of independence and constantly try to minimize closeness; and 3) Secure people feel comfortable with intimacy and are usually warm and loving.

The most important tip on how to fix a broken relationship is to accept that it takes time, energy, and effort. Relationships don’t magically fix themselves, and the best ones are those that took effort. Another thing to remember about fixing relationships is that sometimes you need external help. Even if you talk to a relationship counsellor or marriage therapist for just one session, it can change things for the better.

How to Fix a Relationship

These tips on fixing relationships are from the APA website. The link is at the end of this article.

1. A little goes a long way

A marriage project showed that 75% of happy couples reported that their spouses made them feel cared for or special often, while less than half of the unhappy couples reported the same. “Doing or saying small things frequently to make your partner feel special, cared for and loved … is very predictive of staying together, being happy and [preventing] divorce,” says the lead researcher.

These “positive affirmations” can be as simple as tucking a nice note in a spouse’s wallet or giving a shoulder rub after a long day at work. Even being polite and saying “thank you” can help fix a relationship.

2. Men need positive affirmations more than women

Men who didn’t feel affirmed by their wives were twice as likely to divorce as those did. The same effect didn’t hold true for women. This may be because women are more likely to receive such affirmations from others — a hug from a friend or a compliment from a stranger in line at the deli.

“Men don’t get it from other people in their lives so they especially need it from their female partners or wives,” says the lead researcher. So, if you’re a woman who wants to know how to fix a relationship, make sure you’re affirming your man!

3. Fight nice

John Gottman, PhD, founder of the Gottman Institute and the University of Washington’s Love Lab, says that 69 percent of marital conflict never gets resolved. But research shows it’s how couples handle those inevitable sore spots that matters.

“The people who have stable, happy relationships are much gentler with one another than people who have unhappy relationships or break up,” says Gottman, who’s known for his ability to predict which newlyweds will divorce with more than 90 percent accuracy by observing how they communicate (Journal of Family Psychology). “They’re kinder, they’re more considerate, they soften the way they raise a complaint.” Fixing a relationship involves fighting kindly.

4. Think about how you fight

More recently, UCLA’s Lavner led another study reevaluating how a couple’s fighting style affected their marriages. He looked at data from 136 couples over the 10 years since their weddings. After a decade, the most striking difference between the couples who had divorced and the ones who stayed together was how they had handled conflict during their first year of marriage. The couples who as newlyweds had interacted with anger and pessimism when discussing difficult relationship issues were more likely to be divorced 10 years later.

Couples’ communication patterns proved to be more predictive of divorce than their reported levels of commitment, personality assessments and stress. Knowing how to fix a relationship isn’t about NOT fighting, it’s about how you fight.

5. Learn good communication skills

Research shows that good communication set the happiest of couples apart from the less blissful. Partners who reported patterns of destructive behavior when dealing with conflict in the first year of marriage, for example, were more likely to divorce years later (Journal of Marriage and Family). Remember how I said that external help may show you how to fix a relationship? This is a good place to start.

If you don’t think you can fix your relationship, read 10 Signs of a Bad Relationship – It’s Time to Pack Your Bags When…

6. Talk about more than the dishes

tips for fixing relationships

How to Fix a Relationship

What you talk about matters! “Most couples think they’re communicating with one another, but what they’re really talking about is what I call ‘maintaining the household,'” Orbuch says, or detailing to-do lists and divvying up chores. The happiest couples also share their hopes, dreams and fears.

“They’re spending time getting to know one another,” Orbuch says. Gottman calls this “the existential area.” Conversing about “who are we, what’s our mission and what’s our legacy” creates shared meaning and purpose in the relationship. This helps fix it.

7. Celebrate good times

Other research suggests that supporting a spouse when times are good might go further than doing so when life goes sour. In one study, participants who felt supported by a partner during a positive event, such as receiving a high rating at work, felt better about themselves and about their relationships.

8. Take risks to fix your relationship

Few factors undermine a relationship more than boredom. Couples who were bored in the seventh year of marriage were significantly less likely to be satisfied with the relationship by their 16th anniversary (Psychological Science). So, the earlier you think about how to fix a relationship, the longer you may stay together.

If you and your partner are under alot of pressure at home or work, read Coping Strategies for Stressful Relationships.

9. Don’t take your partner for granted

Getting used to your partner is natural, but it’s a process that can be slowed down. People are wired to become accustomed to positive changes in their lives, whether that change is a fresh outfit, a new job or a wedding band. The next tip on how to fix a relationship will help you stop taking your partner for granted…

10. Do new, exciting things together as a couple

Novelty, variety and surprise can keep boredom from ruining your relationship. By trying new and exciting activities together, you may rekindle feelings similar to the ones you had when you first fell in love. Research shows that spouses are more satisfied with their relationships when they were told to go on more exciting dates, such as hiking or going to parties. Those who succumbed to the safer movie-rental routine didn’t reap the same benefits.

Taking adventurous risks together as a couple is one of the biggest tips on how to fix a relationship, and keep your love fresh, exciting, and new!

Is your relationship in trouble? Get 7 Steps to Fixing Your Marriage from relationship coach Mort Fertel. It's free and helpful, no strings attached.

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~ These tips are from Can this marriage be saved? By Anna Miller, on the American Psychological Association website.

2 thoughts on “How to Fix a Relationship”

  1. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    All of these tips for fixing an unhealthy relationship are for couples who are both willing to work together to save their marriage. What if one partner doesn’t care about fixing the relationship?

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