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5 Ways to Save A Relationship

Updated on July 2, 2014
Happy families take hard work!
Happy families take hard work!

No matter how much you love someone, relationships are hard to maintain.

This is not only true for romantic relationships, but friendships and relationships with family members as well.Though my husband and I have only been married a few years, we have definitely had our share of disagreements. I also find it difficult at times to work with family members and others. It is very stressful to not get along with people you love and care about. So, I have spent a lot of time working on my relationships and have come up with a few great tips that have worked really well for me.

Some relationships, I really work hard to implement these tips, other relationships I do not try as hard. I've found that the ones I work hard at are stronger relationships than those that I do not work so hard at. So, I really think, if you are having a difficult time, it could really help to try these out.


Hope this helps, and best of luck!

Hear What They're Feeling, Not What They're Saying

If you're getting upset with someone it's best to take some time to cool off before you respond.
If you're getting upset with someone it's best to take some time to cool off before you respond.
Tantrums are for babies!  Grown-ups use their words and do not make scenes to humiliate each other.
Tantrums are for babies! Grown-ups use their words and do not make scenes to humiliate each other.

Tip

Communicating does not have to be limited to verbal communication. If you are like me, talking about your feelings isn't always easy. If there's something you want to tell someone, try writing a letter or getting a card.

I would recommend writing a couple drafts first though to make sure what you're writing explains your feelings as best as possible.

1. Communicate

In my opinion, communication is the most important thing to a successful relationship.

Think about it. Think about the relationships you find trying or difficult. Are you able to express yourself freely to those people? Are they able to express themselves freely to you? Do you feel the need to constantly defend yourself? Do you feel the need to point out all of the mistakes they've made and blame them? Do you feel they always place blame on you or attack you? Do you find yourself holding back your feelings to save yourself from an argument?

Or maybe it's not as aggressive as that. Maybe you just don't feel comfortable speaking to them. Are you afraid of what they will think of you if you are honest with them? Are you afraid to speak your mind? Do you find it difficult to say anything at all because they are always speaking?

These are just a few telltale signs that communication is unbalanced in the relationship.

So what do you do?

Here are some suggestions to improve communication:

- In the midst of an argument, stop before things get too heated. Count to ten, cool off. It's better to have a discussion when you are calm.

- Talk about how you feel, without attacking/blaming/or accusing. For example, if you are upset because your friend laughed at your haircut you could say, "It really hurt my feelings when you laughed at me" rather than "You are so mean, you always pick on me for being different. I just wanted to try something new and of course you laughed at me! You're always laughing at me!"

- Be straightforward and honest and avoid being passive aggressive. If your boyfriend hasn't called you in a few days and you're beginning to get annoyed it's better to give him a ring and text him with something like, "Haven't heard from you in a few days. Thinking about you. What's up?" Rather than hop on Twitter or Facebook and post something like, "Woooow doesn't anybody know how to use a phone anymore? Some people are so rude! Well I don't want to deal with this. #wherehaveallthegentlemangone"

- In fact, passive aggressiveness is just a bad idea all together. It is just a sign that you are very fed up but are trying to appear nice, which actually just ends up making you look like an even bigger jerk. Be honest. If you have a problem, settle it as soon as it arises or wait until you are composed enough to talk about it. Being passive aggressive shows that there is a lot of built up tension that has not been productively released.

- Communication isn't all about you talking either. Be sure to allow the other to express themselves as well. Encourage them to use terms like "I feel like...when you..."

- If they begin to get riled up, do your best to deflate the problem. If they begin raising their voice, maintain a calm and level tone. If they start to curse at you, continue to speak as respectfully as possible. No one wants to be the bad guy, so if you're keeping calm while they're getting aggressive, chances are they'll calm down too.

- Apologize. If you messed up and you know you messed up, don't assume that the other knows you're sorry. Genuinely apologize.

- Make conversation when you aren't upset! Talk! Just talk! Just make time to chat it up! It doesn't matter what it's about, it could be anything. Talk about hypothetical situations like, what you would want with you if you were stranded on an island. Or talk about things you don't know about them, like what their first pet was or who their best friend was in high school. Getting to know each other better and showing a genuine interest in the other will strengthen the relationship. When your fun conversations outweigh the arguments, you're on your way to a more stable relationship.


Even just spending a few minutes out of the day talking to someone you love or spending time with them can have a big impact.
Even just spending a few minutes out of the day talking to someone you love or spending time with them can have a big impact.

2. Make Good Memories

Relationships can be really difficult to keep together if all you have to think about is arguments or just a whole lot of nothing special.

Make time to hang out! A lot of times, people think this isn't possible because they don't have a lot of money to spend. This is particularly true of couples who think that dates must consist of expensive dinners and getting all dressed up. That stuff is nice of course, but it isn't entirely necessary.

Here are some simple ways you can spend time together:

- Lunch dates on the weekend or meeting up/have them meet up during your lunch hour.

- Take turns making dinner at your house and theirs.

- Go for a walk in the park or go to the beach.

- Turn off the TV and play a board game or a card game instead.

- If you're feeling adventurous, hop on the bus/train, or get in your car and drive around for a bit until you see some place interesting you've never been to before. If you or they are someone who hates getting lost, be sure to bring a map with you or not go too far so you don't get lost!

- Check out a new restaurant or go windowshopping.

- Have an impromptu dance party in your living room.

- Go to a museum/aquarium/zoo.

- Check out a street fair.

If your relationship has gotten a bit stale, go back to doing the little things you used to do when you had the most fun together like texting, "Good morning :)"

Or do nice things for no reason like bringing home balloons and flowers or going on a surprise date to a secret destination.

Keeping a positive attitude and avoiding grudges leads to way more smiles.
Keeping a positive attitude and avoiding grudges leads to way more smiles.

3. Forgive

Forgiveness is not just for the person you're forgiving, it is also for you. When you do not forgive someone, you carry the weight of that negativity with you and it only gets heavier with time.
Free yourself from that burden by forgiving.

Forgiving does not mean forgetting. You can remember what they did that hurt you, but it's best not to rehash. When you're upset with the other, do not bring in situations from the past that you have said you already forgave them for. A person cannot change what they did in the past, so it isn't fair to hold previous actions over their head. For example, you are made at your sister because she borrowed your clothes without asking. Just because you are upset with her because of that, doesn't mean you should bring up the time she spilled juice on your keyboard two years ago.

However, if someone did something that hurt and continue to do that same thing over and over. It's safe to assume they aren't going to stop, because of the history that you have forgiven--but not forgotten. For example, you told your sister a secret and she told everyone when she promised she wouldn't. Even though you forgave her she has told your secrets at least two times since then.

In these situations it's best to learn from it and adjust how you interact with this person accordingly. Using the same situation, now you know that your sister can't keep secrets, you will no longer tell her secrets until she proves she's trustworthy. This is different than holding a grudge because her present actions are what affect your relationship, not the actions she took in the past.

Forgiving takes work and a lot of practice. It can be really difficult to forgive, especially when you were really hurt. The more you forgive, the easier it gets to forgive. Just remember, you love this person. They love you too. That matters more than whatever happened.


Even my two lil men need time apart sometimes to feel like individuals.
Even my two lil men need time apart sometimes to feel like individuals.

Tip

You don't need the other to have a good time. If you are depending on them to make sure you're happy, you will eventually be unsatisfied and resentful of them. Don't be afraid to strike out on your own and try things they may not even be interested in.

4. Give Space

Ice cream is great, but if you eat too much you're bound to get a stomachache.

No matter how much you love someone, nobody wants to be stuck with someone 24/7. Give the other plenty of room to breath! We all have work/school/responsibilities to take care of. Don't expect someone to be all about spending time with you all the time.

If you always find yourself desperately waiting for them to text you back or call you back or hang out, this may be a sign that you're a bit bored. Find activities to do that you enjoy that don't involve them. Be your own person, with your own interests, your own goals, and your own desires. Everything does not have to involve or revolve around them.

Speaking from my own personal experience, this caused me a lot of grief in my marriage. For a couple of years, my husband worked while I stayed home with the kids. I didn't go out much unless it was to the playground or something to do with the house and kids. So by the time he got home I was starved for adult company and really moody when my husband was too tired from work and just wanted to relax.

Things may have been a lot easier for me if I had join play groups and made friends with other stay-at-home-parents, or even went to visit friends and relatives. Depending on just my husband for social interaction was unfair to the both of us; I was never going to get all the attention I needed and he was never going to be able to provide enough.

Be supportive of your loved one's dreams, a little encouragement can go a long way.
Be supportive of your loved one's dreams, a little encouragement can go a long way.
Cherish the moments you spend with your loved ones.
Cherish the moments you spend with your loved ones.

5. Encourage and Be Encouraged

The best relationships are ones where you and the other bring out the best in each other. Encourage the other to be their very best. If they have an interest in sports, cheer for them. If they enjoy writing, ask to read their work. If they like art, ask to see it and find out what it means to them.

Encouragement does not mean nagging or trying to change them to what you think is best. If they enjoy basketball don't tell them they shouldn't play basketball, they should play football. If they enjoy writing, don't constantly hound them about when they are going to finish that book. If they like art, don't tell them to give it up because it's not going to make them money or tell them they should only make things that will earn them income.

Find out what makes them happy, understand why that makes them happy, and root for them to do their very best. You can make suggestions on how they can improve, but always remember it's their life and their decisions and unless those decisions are hurting someone or affecting another person's quality of life, it is up to them to decide what they want to do.

Take a compliment. Share your passions with the other. Be open and share your insecurities as well. Let them in to give you the encouragement you need to do your best.

Don't be afraid to ask for help. Trying to do everything on your own will drain and frustrate you. Let the other help.

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Tip

Know when to say, "Goodbye."

Dragging out a relationship that is unhealthy is bad for everyone involved. Some relationships have been so degraded by past experiences they may be beyond redemption. It's okay to walk away. And if it's a family member, it's okay to distance yourself too.

You can be civil without negative people taking up space in your life.

Final Word - It isn't all up to you.

This isn't a tip, but a fact. Even if you implement all these tips into your behavior and lifestyle, they will not work to save your relationship if the other isn't willing to participate as well.

In relationships where the other is willing to follow through with each step with me, I have been able to strengthen our bond and really connect. In relationships where they are unwilling to reciprocate, I continue to find myself at odds.

Ultimately, you have to realize that you can't have perfect relationships with every person you meet. Even relationships with relatives can be rocky. Just accept it. It's okay not to be close and loving with everyone, but still try to be civilized. There's no need to be nasty to people. If you maintain a positive attitude, you will find that life goes a lot smoother--even when you are faced with obstacles.


Recap

Steps
Do's
Don'ts
Communicate
Keep your cool and express your feelings. Allow the other to express themselves as well.
Attack, blame, verbally abuse, yell or talk down to.
Make Memories
Make time in your schedule to spend with the other, even if it's just a few minutes.
Never make the other feel like you are doing them some great favor by spending time with you.
Forgive
Let go of things. Judge the other on their present behavior and actions.
Hold grudges. Bring up things in the past, especially when you've already said you forgave them!
Give Space
Enjoy being an indiviudal and let the other have their freetime without you as well.
Make the other feel bad for not always spending time with you. Pressure them to cancel their personal engagements because they don't involve you.
Encourage
Be supportive of the other's passions and interests. Bring out the best in them.
Nag, judge, criticize, or try to change.
*Bonus*
Share the responsibilities of your relationship. Both do your equal share.
Put the burden of the success of a relationship all on yourself or the other.

Comments

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    • Sandra Handal profile image

      Sandra handal 3 years ago from Bethlehem, West Bank

      Thanks a lot for your advice. I hope it will help me.

    • craftybegonia profile image

      craftybegonia 3 years ago from Southwestern, United States

      Great and very logical tips!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Very helpful. Your five suggestions make excellent counsel. They are all important, but forgive and give space get my attention. Your recap table is also very effective. Voted Up!

    • Danielle Dixon profile image

      Dani 3 years ago from Trinidad and Tobago

      Very nice hub, and very good advice.

    • followthestray profile image
      Author

      Samantha Harris 3 years ago from New York

      It could be that your husband was never given the opportunity to talk about his feelings and so this is something that is very new--and therefore frightening--to him. I would recommend not pushing him too much to speak if he doesn't want to. That may actually be counterproductive and put him on the defensive. Instead, try to find alternative ways to communicate. Perhaps he would feel more comfortable writing about his feelings? If not, try and start with conversations that he is comfortable with such as sports or cars or something, then slowly ease in to to more personal, introspective stuff.

      I believe, men have a harder time opening up in our society because they are taught very young that they basically shouldn't have feelings. Just try and stay warm, positive, and encouraging. You want him to give him a lot of positive feedback for whatever communication he does share with you. You want him to learn that this is a GOOD thing, not something he should feel intimidated by. Try not to say things like "this isn't enough" or "you need to do more," because this will lead him to be frustrated. If he never shares his feelings and opens up, even if it's just a little bit, that's a victory that is worth.

      I hope that helps a bit. Best of luck.

    • Lisa Keatts profile image

      Lisa 3 years ago from Virginia

      Great hub. Love your advice, if I could follow it then it would be even better. How do you communicate with someone that does not communicate with you? My husband won't talk to me about his feelings and hates it when I talk about mine. I don't see any way to resolve this issue. I need him to hear me but he refuses to listen. Anyway, good tips that I will follow in my other relationships.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      Excellent advice in keeping a relationship healthy. I find that communicating with each other helps to build trust and love.