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5 Hacks for a Failing Relationship Approved by Couples Therapists

Many people wait until their marriage falls apart before seeking professional help. This is unfortunate because there are things couples can do at the first signs of problems in their relationship that can shift the negative dynamics and re-spark their relationship in a positive direction. Therapists suggest that when the marriage has floundered for months or years, it takes much more focus from both partners to make it better. If one partner doesn't make it a priority, the marriage will usually end. By beginning these small actions today, you'll see an improvement within weeks and minimize the possible damage that could have occurred between the two of you.

I have five suggestions that, when practiced consistently, are enough to help you communicate better and reconnect emotionally so that you can feel hope and a stronger connection than before.

  1. Try 60 seconds of eye contact to minimize conflicts. When a relationship is in trouble, you can visibly see contempt between partners. Mean-spirited remarks and insensitive body language prevail. To shift this dynamic, try the following exercise: put your phone away, take each other's hands, and stare into each other's eyes for a straight minute. It's hard to feel hate or contempt for someone when you are staring into their eyes. It's as if you break down a wall between the two of you, melt the ice, and begin to soften toward each other. Practice this exercise at least 3 to 4 times a week when you're feeling disconnected or stressed. It helps disarm defensiveness and encourages you to consider each other's needs.

  2. Dedicate 20 minutes each day to uninterrupted conversation. According to therapists, the top hack is to unplug from technology and connect. Spend twenty minutes a day without distractions, looking at each other, to bring clarity and reduce the chance of miscommunication. Feeling pressured to voice your side of a discussion or becoming heated over a topic with your partner leads to blame, defensiveness, and an inability to listen to what they say. When you schedule twenty minutes, your partner can calm down, listen better, and the two of you can reconnect and understand each other's point of view.

  3. Validate and support your partner. The quickest way to repair a failing marriage is to open lines of communication. When you're not getting along, instead of adopting an angry or vindictive tone, focus on validating what your partner says. Validating doesn't mean you agree with them; it means you can put yourself in their shoes and understand why they made the choices they did. Trying to one-up or win only drives relationships further apart. Validating your partner and taking their side to help solve the problem restores communication.

  4. Avoid placing excessive pressure on your partner by reinvesting in your personal interests. The happiest couples have space for themselves within their relationship. When you do everything together and expect your partner to always be by your side, you smother your love. A relationship needs space, and you can create that by reinvesting in your personal interests and allowing your partner to do the same. Relationships become more interesting when couples continue to nurture their personal interests and goals.

  5. Take responsibility for your part in relationship problems. If you want to save your relationship, you need to be willing to own up to your mistakes. Being able to honestly examine your weaknesses and acknowledge your role not only makes your partner feel supported, but it also goes a long way in resolving issues. Getting defensive and blaming others is an emotionally immature tactic that only exacerbates miscommunication and destroys relationships. Be willing to verbalize your mistakes and take action to make necessary changes that will strengthen your communication.

Every long-term relationship goes through difficult times, but that doesn't mean you're doomed to fail. If you and your partner are both willing to put in the effort, you can successfully restore your relationship. Anything worthwhile demands commitment and hard work, and nurturing a healthy relationship is one of the most valuable investments you can make.


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