How to Survive a Rough Patch in a Relationship
Sleeping Beauty wakes with true love's first kiss. Cinderella fits the slipper. Snow White...does whatever Snow White does. The bottom line is-we've all heard the stories. And what's the common thread? They live Happily-Ever-After. How giddy! Unfortunately, for the rest of us, it's not typically that easy. But take ye heart! (I was going with the fairy tale theme..I'm aware it didn't really work.) Anyway! Do not be dismayed. You're not alone. Even the most seemingly perfect relationships have gone through at least one rough patch. Everyone does. What matters is how or if you choose to deal with it. Some couples lose the battle, some forfeit before it even really begins, and some...some win.
Step #1. Sit Down Class
Many people don't recognize that they're in a rough patch until it's far too late. So as someone who has been there once or twice, I thought I'd share what I've learned. The hallmark of a rough patch is fighting more than you usually do. Or just fighting at all. Or it could be more of an unspoken tension. Sometimes, it's just a feeling of emptiness-like there's a huge gaping whole in the middle of the relationship and neither of you has any idea how to refill it...or even how it got there. A rough patch can be brought on by many things-school or work stress, loss of a loved one, health issues-whatever severely stresses one partner eventually stresses the relationship because that person will probably have progressively less patience and become more prone to frustration. Or you could replace frustration with sadness, indifference, clinginess, etc...Not that this is always the case. A hard situation is always a wonderful opportunity for a couple to support one another and strengthen the bond. I'm simply stating that for some, these sorts of things are the main cause of their tough times-possibly due to lack of knowing how to show support or lack of knowing how to receive it. However, sometimes, a rough patch has a more simple cause like just falling out of the honeymoon stage. I've seen this so many times! A couple is obsessed with each other-we all know it well. The butterflies. The endless conversations about absolutely nothing. The "How did I ever live without you?" crap. We have to admit-the honeymoon stage is pretty nice. But alas, like all other good things, it must come to an end. And that's okay. That's actually good because the deep-companionship,best-friend, choosing, lasting, gentle yet strong kind of love that replaces it is so much more rewarding. However, many people don't stick around long enough to get there. Many people get hung up in losing the flashyall-encompassing infatuation that is the honeymoon stage and they assume that the "spark" is gone forever and they no longer have feelings for each other. This is where the rough patch begins. You start seeing your "shining angel" for who they really are-a human. Gasp! And you no longer only see the good in them, you also start to see the bad..and the ugly. So small fights begin to arise because things that once seemed adorable are now becoming annoying. You no longer yearn to spend every waking second with it and actually start missing the time with your friends. Many people get lost in this grey area between the honeymoon stage and real love and that causes an extreme rough patch, and sometimes, a heartbreak. BUT it does not have to be that way!!
Step #2. Make a Game Plan
The reality is, as I said before, everyone goes through a rough patch. What matters is what you're going to do about it. The truth is, unless both of you are wholeheartedly determined to do whatever it takes to keep this person in your life, you won't make it. It's sad,very sad, but true. Even if one person is giving 110% and fighting with all their might, they will lose if the other person isn't willing to do the same. Even if your patch isn't that "rough", it can still break you if you let your guard down. This is when a relationship gets real-when you have to fight for it. When you have to make the conscious choice every day (and multiple times a day) that you want this person. This. Person. And nothing but God Himself is going to take them from you. That's what gets you through a rough patch. It doesn't matter if you're uncertain about how exactly you're going to fix it all yet-that passionate,constant decision that you are going to persevere and see this thing through to the end or die trying-that's what saves a relationship.
Step #3. Fight Fair
Fights will happen. They always do. But they don't have to be hurtful. They don't have to be nasty. It's actually highly recommended that they not be. People have the idea stuck in their heads that all-out fights are neccesary in a relationship in order for it to be healthy-I strongly disagree. Fights will happen because no two people agree on everything and nobody's perfect. However, the screaming matches and throwing TVs across the room while seeing who can say the most heart-wrenching low-blows kinds of fights aren't absolutely necessary. The way a couple treats each other in times of deep anger and frustration reveal how much they truly care about each other-I know, sounds crazy right? But think about-how hard is it to be nice and lovey-dovey with someone that's being all sweet to you? That's nothing. But to be purposeful about what you say or don't say to your significant other when you're angry is a huge testament to how much you don't want to lose them. It's important to always have a filter and make sure you don't say anything unnecessarily hurtful. Because even though things can be forgiven, forgetting is hardly ever as easy.
Step #4. Talk TO each other, Not ABOUT each other
I cannot stress this enough. Trust does not just mean not cheating on someone. Trust is knowing that you won't run to all your little friends and their mothers and complain about what your significant other did and didn't say. There are times when you genuinely don't know how to handle a situation and may need to ask guidance from a select few of your closet confidants. But even then, keep it as well-rounded as possible. Don't add spiteful comments or add and subtract certain details so that your friends will side with you. Never do anything to put down your significant other or cause anyone else to see them in a lesser light simply because of a fight you're having. Because those negative feelings will last long after the fight has ended. Plus, you know you wouldn't want to worry about your SO going and saying a myriad of negative and hurtful things about you to his friends about you. So don't do it. Also, talking about it will only strengthen your feelings and make you relive the fight over and over again which is definitely counterproductive. So, take your time to calm down. Both of you go somewhere and count to ten or something. But make it a rule to never let anyone outside your relationship know more about your relationship than the two of you do.
Step #5. Forgive
A rough patch is called a rough patch for a reason. There will be days when you feel like giving up. There may be weeks when you feel like giving up. Your significant other may intentionally get on your nerves. They might be extra clingy or abnormally distant. They may say things they shouldn't have. SO WILL YOU. A healthy relationship must include a ginormous amount of forgiveness for both parties. When your SO really does something that bothers you, remember how you feel when you know you've frustrated them. Remember how scared you get at the thought of losing them and how you'd take back whatever you said or did as quickly as you could in order to avoid that. Give them the benefit of the doubt just like you'll want them to do for you when it's your turn. Choose your battles. Wisely.
Step #6. Buckle Up and Enjoy the Ride
Yes, rough patches can be,well...rough. But that doesn't mean you're stuck forever. In time, you will learn to communicate better-or just again. You'll realize that those annoying little flaws aren't that annoying. You'll realize that this person may not be the "shining angel" you thought they were but they're a perfectly imperfect human being and that's much better. They may be a pain in the butt but they're your pain in the butt. You'll learn to compromise and that relationships are sometimes more given than take-and that's okay. You'll realize that relationships are a lot more messy than people may make them out to be but they're still worth it. And you'll see how grateful you are that you stuck it out. That you never gave up. Because you'll finally realize, this person is the best thing that's ever happened to you-and you wouldn't trade that in for the world.