Have you come to a point in your relationship where it’s just getting too hard to keep going? Maybe your partner is tough to live with, or maybe the love seems to be fading and everything is dull? What if there was a way that you could hit the reset button on your relationship and give it new life? Well, I believe there is. And, in this article, I’m going to explain myself.
It’s not uncommon to see couples struggling to press on. Maybe it’s only been a few months together, and maybe it’s been years. Regardless, struggles and frustrations happen. After 21 years being married to my wife, we’ve seen our share of difficult times and struggles. We’ve hit the reset button many times. But if we didn’t find a way to deal with the hard times, we never would’ve made it.
The lasting relationship isn’t a mystery and it’s not elusive. It’s real and it’s attainable for every couple. But it takes dedication and focus. And, if I’m being honest, it requires the hand of God. For my wife and I, without surrendering our marriage to God and allowing Him to come in and heal the wounds, there wouldn’t have been hope. And, there’s many other factors involved, too, that must be considered. We’ll get to these in a moment.
It’s becoming common to see couples splitting up at the mere sight of struggle. Almost without cause, couples are going their separate ways, believing that they’ll be better off. But this is an illusion. Sure, moving on is the quick way out of a difficult situation, but it doesn’t necessarily solve anything. Generally, the problems follow and soon entwine themselves in the new relationship. Then what? Move on, again?
New partner, new problem. It’s habits and beliefs and attitudes that are deeply woven into each of us. We started learning as children and we are often firm on what we believe and know. However, it’s impossible to find a partner who is exactly the same and shares the exact same beliefs. So, when we partner up with someone, we come against their beliefs and habits and attitudes, whether we like it or not. The key is learning how to live and thrive together even with differences.
Each day is a new day
If you live with someone, you will have hard times. There will be disagreements and arguments, and sometimes, there will be silent treatments and campouts on the sofa. I’ve come to learn that it’s quite hard to live together perfectly every day. Eventually, something breaks. But what happens when it does? Do you let it go or do you hold them to it?
I’ve also come to learn after many years that holding grudges and keeping them on the hook for what they said or did doesn’t help. In fact, it only causes more turmoil and creates more division. I’ve found that there’s really only one way to solve the issue – someone’s gotta give in and be the first to forgive.
The nice thing about going to sleep is waking up refreshed and ready for a new day. However, it’s hard to do this when you’re angry with your partner. Instead of waking up mad, try waking up refreshed and ready to start over. Reset. Do this by forgiving your partner for whatever they did. There is virtually no thing that a couple hasn’t worked through. Some things that are unforgivable, spouses and partners have been forgiven for. But the couple has to want it and must want to fight for that relationship.
Is whatever you’re mad at your partner about worth it? Is it ultra-important that they learn their lesson? I’d say it’s ultra-important that they know they’ve wronged you and that it can’t keep happening, but there needs to be forgiveness before the healing comes. Instead of holding on to it, once you are both cooled down and in a more peaceful attitude. Sit them down, tell them how it’s affected you and that you don’t want that to be part of the relationship, and ask them to make changes. Be ready to listen to your partner as well, get their side or perspective and make an effort to understand where they are coming from. Forgive each other and move on. You will feel better. The relationship will feel better.
Relationships require certain elements to thrive
There are many things that are necessary to have a great and lasting relationship. But there’s a few that are ultra-necessary and can’t be absent.
- love and respect
- honesty and trust
- affection and intimacy
1. Love and respect
Relationships are formed out of love and respect. It’s time spent together getting to know the other person and soon, falling in love with them. When you love someone, you respect them. You want them to succeed, and to be happy, and to thrive in all ways. But what happens when that feeling wears off? What happens when the love grows cold? Well, the respect for them also grows cold.
Have you tried to spend time with someone who doesn’t respect you or your authority? Maybe at work, or at school, or somewhere else? It’s not fun. They question everything you say and do, and they refuse to work with you. Instead, they walk around with their nose in the air and they essentially make your life more difficult. Can you imagine that in your relationship? You know, with the one that you swore to live happily ever after with?
Don’t let the love for your spouse die down. Instead, reset. Take some time and remember all the things that you first loved about them. Write them down. Think about their charm, their humor, the way they make you feel safe and full. Forget about the shortcomings and the things they’ve done wrong. Instead, spend time only thinking about the good stuff.
Try imagining a vacation with them; where would you go? What kind of foods would you try together? Imagine an intimate swim together; imagine what the night in the hotel could lead to.
It’s this kind of thinking that will help revive the spark. When couples spend time doing this, even once per week, it helps undo a lot of the hard stuff. Especially, when they do it together. Relationships grow cold because the couple stops putting in effort for each other.
Remember the things you both once did for each other. Start doing them again. Whoever wakes up first makes the coffee and gets the day going; whoever sees something on the floor quietly picks it up and puts it away because both live in and contribute to the household; whoever sees the other struggling or hurting goes over and puts their arm around them and gives them a hug and offers to help and be there for them.
2. Honesty and trust
Nothing kills the relationship quicker than a lack of trust. Honesty and integrity are very important in society, but so much more in the relationship. If the whole world fell apart outside the doors of your house, isn’t it nice to know that at least on the inside, your house is safe, and you can trust your partner? Well, of course, right?
But many couples are struggling because of dishonesty and insecurities caused by such behavior. The couple needs to be committed to each other. It’s not that one must keep the other on a short leash, but that each should know boundaries and limits. They should know dangers and watch for anything that can creep in and take root, such as temptations.
Part of being honest is talking about what you’re struggling with. It’s far better to do this before doing something stupid that you’ll soon regret. Providing a safe place for your partner is what will allow them to feel okay about talking to you about sensitive stuff. But if you’re like a drill sergeant waiting to punish someone, then your partner may not want to talk it out.
Create an caring and safe relationship. Watch for signs of danger. We want to trust our partners and allow them to live and have fun, but we also want to keep the dangers away. There are some obvious things to watch for; watch for single people who are spending too much time with you or your partner, especially, those who seem overly interested. It’s best for couples to have other couples as friends. Watch for addictions. These can be subtle at first, but soon create all sorts of issues in the relationship. Watch for poor habits, especially, spending habits. Debt is a relationship killer.
I don’t want you to play detective and ask a million questions of your partner. I’m saying, work together on this and maintain honesty and trust with each other. Eliminate anything that might raise suspicion. Be committed to each other and don’t let anyone or anything come between you two. When there’s trust in the home, there’s happiness in the home.
3. Affection and intimacy
When there’s love and respect, and honesty and trust, there can be intimacy and affection. This is because there is a level of safety that allows the couple to become vulnerable to the other. If there was no trust, could you be intimate with a person? If there was no respect, could you be intimate with a person? Of course, not.
Trust issues, insecurities, a lack of love and respect; these destroy intimacy. What relationship can thrive and last without intimacy and affection? That’s why I put the list in the order I did. Intimacy and affection aren’t less important than love and respect or honesty and trust, but before intimacy can happen, those other elements must be present.
Assuming they are, then affection becomes ultra-important. Showing affection to your mate is necessary. Those little kisses and hugs before and after work, before and after sleep, and spontaneously throughout the day are like little seeds that soon grow into a great harvest of love and desire.
It’s not weakness to tell your husband or wife, “I love you” or, “I miss you” or, “I appreciate you.” It’s not weakness to hold hands or to cuddle or to do what they love to do instead of what you want. It’s part of having a solid and thriving relationship that will produce years of adventure together.
When the couple spends time showing their love for each other, they fall into deeper love. When this happens, everything improves. Love making is better, too. Suddenly, your partner becomes adequate for you, and you for them. And, nothing is better or stronger than a couple who truly loves each other and is completely committed to each other.
The relationship is a unity of two partners
On top of the three points I just made, it’s important to see your relationship as a partnership. One where you share a common goal and have a plan together. If you’ve been working alone in the relationship, it’s time to reset.
Sit down together and talk about how things are going. Are you both happy with the way the other behaves and treats you? Put it on the table. Are you both happy with the financial situation of the household? Tell them how you would like it to be. What about household and relationship goals? Is everything moving forward towards a common goal or is it stagnant?
It’s the little conversations about these things that will enable the couple to find the weaknesses and give them the attention they need. If there is lack in one part of the relationship, it will affect other areas. If there is financial lack, there will be stress; if there are no future goals together for the relationship, you will both question the point and purpose of the relationship.
Work through these things together. Make plans to improve where you can. If there is lack, try to work out a way to address the situation. If you’ve never put any thought into what your life together could become and what you both would like to see happen in the future, start writing things down and set some goals to reach for. Don’t settle for mediocre.
Together, you and your partner can accomplish a lot. There are very few things you won’t be able to achieve. Time and perseverance will always be the determining factor. Nothing happens quickly, except the choice to change. But all good things take time. From the time you both start until the time your goal is reached, this will take time. But you have to start. And, you have to work together.
Find your fun thing to do when times are tough
Finally, have some fun. The relationship can’t thrive if it’s likened to a dried-up prune. When’s the last time you and your partner went out and did something fun? There’s no better way to reset your relationship than to revive the fun and enjoyment side of things.
It can’t be all business. Yes, take the important things very seriously and don’t allow complacency. But find some balance and have fun. Laugh together. If you’re both really just not that funny, and all else fails, watch a funny movie or some clean comedy. Start creating fun memories together.
When you look back on life, even in the last year, wouldn’t it be nice to have more good memories than bad? Make it happen. It takes effort to get together and have fun. But soon, it becomes necessity. Soon, you get used to having fun together and you do it with ease.
Your relationship will experience difficult times. There will be days where everything just seems to work against you. It’s in this time you need a reset button; something that you can do together to snap out of it and make things less frustrating.
When the hard times come along, address them appropriately – that is, together with calmness and clear thinking. Then, once you both come up with a plan and put it to work, then move on and get back to having fun.
What I’ve learned over the years is there’s only so much we can do. When we’ve done all that we can do for the moment, there’s only two options: worry about it or have fun and make the best of the time. I encourage you to choose the latter.
Can you imagine a life with someone you love, someone you’re attracted to and who’s attracted to you, and someone that you have perpetual fun with? Well, you can attain it, but you have to create that environment. This isn’t the default for relationships.
Everything that I’ve said or listed in this article is possible and attainable. If you and your partner are in a difficult patch in your life, you might have to start slow and small. But it’s the choice that you both make together to work on things and to be committed to whatever plan you come up with.
Look for all the things that made you both fall in love initially. Decide together to start fresh; to reset. Decide to forgive each other right away for any wrongs in the past, and make plans to work on the three points that I laid out above; to love and respect each other, to be honest and trustworthy and loyal to one another, and to be affectionate and intimate with each other.
There’s lots of little things that will work to derail a great relationship. It’s up to you, the couple, to stay on guard and be aware of the dangers, and to keep them at bay. But be sure to have fun. Not only do you want to create and promote a long-lasting relationship, you want it to be a fun one, too, right?
Go ahead, hit that reset button. Get together with your partner and hit it together. This isn’t a one-person venture. This will take both of you, so both must be aware of the plan. And remember, if one person is having a bad day and isn’t living up to your standards, don’t go down to their level. Maintain your level of love and respect for them and talk to them about it. Be caring and supportive and let them know that you’re there to help. Give them space and time if necessary.
Keep trying and you’ll find success.
How to get your spouse to hear you, by Mort Fertel.