10 ways to strengthen a failing relationship, according to psychology

Let’s face it. Having a solid relationship takes work. Everyone will inevitably have challenges and disagreements with their partner from time to time. 

The occasional bump in the road doesn’t necessarily mean your union is damaged beyond repair. 

But how can you tell if your relationship is not salvageable and that it’s time to throw in the towel?   

And what are the defining characteristics of a broken relationship anyway? And if you think your relationship is broken,  what steps, if any, can you take to address it? 

According to psychology, The following tips can be a guide to fix a broken relationship but remember that it’s vital that both partners are equally invested in the relationship for it to work. 

So if you find yourself grappling with relationship issues or if you’re wondering if your relationship is worth saving, read on. 

1) Avoid rash decisions 

When some people are going through a rough patch in their relationship, their first instinct is to jump ship. 

A particularly bad blow-out or extended icy silences can make you wonder if your relationship is even worth saving.

But during the heat of the moment isn’t when you want to make that call. Better to wait until cooler heads prevail, because many couples can work through their differences if they’re willing to put in equal effort.

Barring any sort of abuse, there’s valuable lessons to be learned by trying to work things out with your current partner. 

Let’s face it, you’re only going to screw up your next relationship if you don’t learn how to break bad patterns and resolve issues now. 

No matter where you go, there you are.

Jessa Zimmerman, a couples’ therapist, says, “When you have looked at your part of the problem and done your work to change (and feel good about that) and you’re still unhappy—that may be time to end the relationship. Avoid the tendency to make rash or sudden decisions in a difficult moment.”

2) Prioritize your relationship

According to experts, once the ol’ honeymoon phase wears off and familiarity begins to creep in, a relationship can feel more transactional than emotionally supportive.  

It’s easy to become consumed by the minutiae of life like work, bulls, and taking care of the kids. The monotony can take a big toll on your relationship. 

To prevent this from happening, check in with one other often and make each other your top priority

For example, if you get exciting news be sure to share it with your partner first. Every random call or text during the day doesn’t always have to be about picking up milk on the way home. 

By making the effort to consistently reconnect with one another, you can revive the love and passion you share as a couple.

3) Have date nights

As we’ve learned, it’s way too easy for couples to become distant in the face of day-to-day responsibilities and just stop spending quality time together. 

Commit to going out on a real date with your partner once a week. And a date can be as casual as sitting on lawn chairs, eating snacks, and listening to music. 

It doesn’t have to be fancy, time-consuming, or expensive. The point is just being together and enjoying each other’s company.

4) Avoid the blame game 

This can be hard in the heat of battle, but it’s crucial in the interest of fairness!  

It’s OK to get upset with your partner’s behavior, but make sure that you’re accepting responsibility for any problems between the two of you.

Most people are crystal clear on what their partner is doing wrong but blind to their own thoughtlessness and selfishness. 

To be half of a successful relationship, you need to willingly withstand the same scrutiny and standards you hold your partner to. 

If your relationship isn’t reciprocal, it really isn’t much of a relationship, so you have some choices to make. 

5) Show gratitude

signs youre in a genuinely healthy relationship according to psychology 10 ways to strengthen a failing relationship, according to psychology

If we’re being honest, most of us have been guilty of taking our partner for granted, especially after you’ve been together for a long time. 

Showing them gratitude for the big and the small things they do to make your life easier and more pleasant is a great place to start.

If your relationship has been going through a rough patch, showing genuine appreciation for your partner is a great way to turn the ship around. 

6) More affection …

This suggestion can be an uncomfortable one, particularly if your partner is totally stressing you out. 

But it’s a goal to strive for. Hopefully, after some much-needed quality time, you both can renew your confidence in the relationship.

Again, this doesn’t have to be a big production. The next time you two are chilling and watching a movie, reach over and grab your partner’s hand. This simple, heartfelt gesture can do wonders to strengthen the connection between you. 

Small, sweet gestures can do wonders for a floundering relationship. Bet. 

7) … But keep it real 

Real intimacy isn’t just based on romantic expression. It’s about having a real rapport with your partner and shared interests and values.

But mostly, it’s about mutual respect.

It’s exciting getting swept off your feet every now and then. Facts. 

But it’s crucial to genuinely enjoy your partner’s company and appreciate them for who they are, not who you wish they’d be.

8) Active listening

Yup. Active listening makes yet another list. If there’s any social skill worth cultivating, it’s this one.  

And remember, If you’re forming your rebuttal while someone is talking to you, you’re not really listening, you’re internally rehearsing your response. 

And that’s not genuinely listening.

Really hear what your partner is trying to say and make sure both of you get the chance to make your points. 

9) Heal yourself 

This isn’t quite the same as owning your own contribution to your relationship’s problems. This is about being self-aware enough to understand the inner work you need to do on yourself.

So if you have a tendency to blame your partner for your unhappiness, then maybe it isn’t time to chuck the relationship at all.  

You just have your own inner work to tackle.

If you have a history of ignoring your emotions and judging yourself harshly, or making your partner responsible for your self-esteem and safety, then you have some solo emotional growth to do.

10) Breaking old patterns

When rebuilding your relationship, experts suggest you consider it as a new one, rather than an attempt at salvaging an old relationship. 

According to psychology, approaching your relationship from this perspective is an opportunity to set new parameters and boundaries

This is hard but satisfying work. Both partners need to address their individual underlying issues and release any past resentments they’ve been harboring.

Final thoughts

Not every new relationship you embark on will be with a new person.

As couples navigate difficulties and challenges with each other, they can re-emerge on the other side as different and more evolved people.

And a more evolved person will be capable of a more evolved relationship.

Picture of Kathy Copeland Padden

Kathy Copeland Padden

Kathy Copeland Padden lives in a New England forest paradise with her cats, kid, and trusty laptop. She has been writing since age 8 and is such a pack rat she can back that up with physical evidence. Music is her solace and words are her drug, so her house is strewn with records and books. Watch your step.

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