Destructive patterns of communicating and behaving gather momentum in a struggling relationship, sometimes for weeks, months and years. They become engrained as a way of relating to your partner.
There are 5 common, highly destructive patterns of relating that most partners fall into when their relationship is in trouble. They are:
Blame or Dominate
Withdraw or Disengage
Denial or Confusion
I will describe these in more detail in a forthcoming post. However, what to do about them?
6 simple ways to save your relationship.
1. Focus on changing yourself rather than your partner.
There will always be something in how you contribute towards the conflict in the relationship that can change. Focus on yourself and own your part.
2. Become clear about the kind of life you and your partner want to build together and individually.
See your relationship as a shared project. Spend some time creating a plan, or a map of how you both contribute towards the kind of life you want with and for each other. Revisit often.
3. Determine the kind of partner you aspire to be.
Take responsibility for your attitudes, behaviours, thoughts and feelings about your relationship. You may find yourself saying and doing things that form your destructive pattern. In which case it’s time to reconsider how and what you want to change.
4. Identify your individual obstacles.
It may be really tough to step back and acknowledge how and what you need to change. Obstacles to change are hard to see and shift. How are you getting in your own way? If you’re blocked, seek help.
5. Learn new skills and gain more knowledge.
Self help books, short courses, online resources and face to face consultations are a few ways in which people step into personal growth.
For example, if stress is creating difficulties in your relationship, develop a realistic relaxation/stress management plan. If you’re demands at work are impeding on your family life start discussing this with your partner, boss or a career coach.
6. Accept that conflict produces growth and learning.
Conflict is an opportunity for your relationship to gro. This is a major attitude shift for lots of people.
Discussing conflict with your partner when emotions are at a low level will allow both of you to discuss better ways to handle differences without being so defensive.
When your relationship is struggling, how do you respond?
Share your thoughts in the comments section below.