Couples have a story, how they met how they fell in love, funny moments they shared together. At the start of the relationship we don’t need to fix the relationship,  it seems easy to love and understand each other. We spend time together, we talk, we listen, we try to please each other and we enjoy being together.

Then for many it feels like things start to go wrong, in the intervening years things have changed, we got married, we had children, our jobs became more demanding, we took on more debt, we have financial worries and stress and worry seem everywhere.

When you look across at your partner, you still feel love, but you are less sure what is coming back. You no longer talk (unless it’s to fight about the fore mentioned children, debt or money). You feel that your opinions are no longer respected and you don’t feel happy in the relationship.

How do you change, how do you as a couple get back to a better relationship?

Learning to change to fix the relationship

It’s important to realise that to get to the point where your relationship is not working you will both have made mistakes, said things, or upset your partner.  Taking the time to make sure that you want to try to save the relationship is important. You may feel that you have been down this road many times before and now is the right time to split. You should make a positive decision to go or stay.

It’s equally important that you accept that you are going to have to make changes in your behaviour if you want the relationship to change. Some of these changes can be small. Things like remembering to complement each other or express gratitude. This can be a hug or a kiss when you leave or arrive home, or doing some small thing that your partner will value.

Learn to communicate more effectively

Fixing the relationshipCommunication often comes up in relationship therapy. Yet it is not because people do not talk in relationships, rather it is people talk “at” their partner: “You do X to me” rather than “I feel dis-respected when you X”. Often when talking to their partners, the complaint is made they never listen. Again taking time to acknowledge what the other person has just said can help tremendously. You are not agreeing, but acknowledging their feelings. Most couples will interrupt each other in fights. Notice it is difficult to speak and listen effectively at the same time. Taking turns in a discussion is much more effective in resolving problems. Remember it’s you and your partner vs. the problem not you vs. your partner vs. the problem.

Do things together

Often as life our relationship has developed we spend less time with each other. Remember your story at the start you created memories and spent time together. If you are trying to fix the relationship: Take time for your relationship, remember why you are together. It can be movie night in or a meal out, you can arrange it together or take turns about.. Spending time together helps build the intimacy in your relationship over time.

Talking about concerns and boundaries

All relationships have boundaries; things that you know are likely to hurt your partner. Many of these will be clear and unspoken. A typical one would be monogamy, yet both partners have to be able to talk about behaviour that they find unacceptable and want the other person to stop. This might be their use of alcohol, or hurtful language or remarks or clarifying how they see an existing boundary. For example many partners see the use of hard-core pornography as cheating.

It’s important to realise that you have to make it clear that it is a problem for you, so that your partner knows. When you fix your relationship it’s important to talk about it in a calm way. Where possible talk about how you feel about the behaviour so that they can see the impact both on you and the relationship. Be clear about what you would like to happen next.

Finally many couples seek out relationship counselling because they find it helpful to talk with a neutral third party. Relationship counsellors will not judge them but will help them with some of the skills that they may struggle with. They also get insight into their relationship seeing where problems lie. Relationship counselling is not only for relationships in intensive care it is very helpful for those that need a little support as well.