Relationships are difficult. Managing two people’s different personalities, wants, and needs is difficult, and even the best of us have rough patches or breakdowns. These relationships, on the other hand, are usually worth the effort – worth fighting for. To fight for a relationship, you must reach out to your estranged partner, accept the past, and eventually accept that person for who they are.
Part 1 Reaching Out
1. If necessary, apologise. Relationships suffer when one or both partners are hurt, whether as a result of a fight, careless words, or long-standing resentments. To some extent, all relationships go through this. The most important thing is to reach out and apologise when you’ve made a mistake. Apologizing demonstrates your dedication to your partner and the relationship.
To apologise effectively, you must be sincere, specific, and aware of the harm you have caused. Accept your role in undermining the relationship’s trust or respect. This does not imply accepting full responsibility, but rather accepting responsibility for your part.
Be genuine and specific. Only apologise to make amends and repair damage, not for any other reason. Simultaneously, be specific about what you’re apologising for and how it harmed the other person. “I’m very sorry that I stormed off during our argument,” for example. I can tell it bothered you and made you feel humiliated. Please accept my apology.”
Apologies that are poorly worded should be avoided. These do not accept responsibility and appear insincere, for example, “I’m sorry if what I did offended you” or “I’m sorry if you took it the wrong way.”
Don’t ask for an apology in return. Mutual forgiveness is essential, but your partner may require time to process their emotions. Requesting an apology will appear as a demand.
2. Pay attention to your partner. The first step in reaching out is to apologise. It will not solve the problem, but it will break the ice and begin the healing process. Expect your partner to react emotionally or even interrupt you. But resist the urge to interrupt and defend yourself; instead, be patient, respectful, and listen.
Avoid reacting defensively or insisting on “finishing” your side of the storey. Your first instinct may be to correct or refute your partner, but instead, let them speak for themselves.
By demonstrating patience, you also allow your partner to speak openly without fear of retaliation, demonstrating that you are serious about mending the rift.
Remember that the goal of an apology is to mend the relationship. It is not about proving who was correct and who was incorrect.
3. Keep the door open, but don’t go too far. Make it clear to your partner that you want the relationship to survive. Accept, however, that these things take time. Resist the urge to pursue your partner, especially if they have grown distant, or you may end up driving them away. Allow for some breathing room while keeping the door open to reconciliation.
Make it clear that you are willing to talk if and when your partner is. Make it clear that you are available for communication.
At the same time, people frequently require physical and emotional space following an argument or injury. Recognize and respect your partner’s need for space – don’t hound them.
Face to Face with the Past
1. Seek counselling as a group or as an individual. Counseling isn’t a magic bullet, but it can help you air and work out issues and learn how to communicate more effectively with your partner. If your relationship is in trouble, consider getting couples counselling. Going to counselling on your own, on the other hand, can be beneficial.
If you’ve been having communication or trust issues, if you’ve grown distant and are just “occupying the same space,” or if one of you is acting on negative feelings, ask your partner to go to counselling with you.
Try to find a counsellor with whom you can both work. This may require several attempts. Inquire with potential counsellors about their credentials, experience, and suitability to assist you, as well as their success rate.
Consider a counsellor to be a consultant rather than a fixer. A counsellor will advise you, but the majority of your work will take place outside of your sessions.
Even if your partner refuses to attend, you should think about finding a counsellor or therapist.
2. Prepare to delve into your past. To fight for a relationship, you must face problems head on rather than simply covering them up and allowing them to fester. Whether you work with a counsellor or not, be prepared to discuss the issues in your relationship in depth. This isn’t going to be easy. It entails revisiting old wounds, discussing resentments, and expressing disappointment.
Prepare to pay attention to your partner. The key to moving forward is to pay attention to and empathise with past hurt.
Be open to expressing your own annoyances. But always do so with tact. Resist the urge to blame or justify past behaviours; instead, seek to understand the underlying motivations; you may discover that they were not as malicious as you thought.
Remember what brought you together. There was a reason why you and your partner met in the first place. Try to reflect together on why you loved each other and whether you can rekindle that spark.
3. Learn to express your emotions in a positive way. Getting your feelings out in the open will help you understand motivations and needs, so learning to communicate and even disagree is essential. It can assist you and your partner in reevaluating assumptions about one another as well as stating your needs clearly and openly.
If you’re in counselling, make sure to discuss effective communication with your therapist.
Follow the rules of effective communication and “fighting fair.” For example, avoid accusatory language by beginning sentences with “I think…” or “I feel…” rather than saying things like “You always…” or “You never…”
Be specific and stick to the facts as well as your emotions. Discuss what you require from your partner rather than what you believe they are failing to provide, for example, “I require but do not feel your support for my career as a businesswoman.”
Instead of “You ignore me because you never show affection in public,” try “I feel ignored because I want and need more public affection from you.”
Invite the other person’s viewpoint. Don’t interrupt; instead, listen and then try to summarise what you’ve heard.
Seeing your partner as a unique individual
1. Accept your partner as he or she is. To truly fight for your relationship, you must be willing to accept your partner as a whole person, including any habits or behaviours you dislike or resent. This is no small task. But it’s necessary if you want to keep your connection.
Try to see things from a different perspective. Assume you’ve always despised your partner’s disorganisation. Try to put yourself in their shoes and see what they think: are they really that messy, or are you overly concerned with tidiness?
Accept that you have no control over your partner or his or her background and upbringing. Viewing their “wrong” habits as a reflection of their upbringing or deeply held priorities and values can help to alleviate tension.
But keep certain boundaries in mind. You are not obligated to accept destructive or abusive behaviour.
2. Allow yourself to be free of feelings of superiority. To save a relationship, you’ll have to compromise not only on small things like habits and behaviour, but also on the larger feeling that you’re in the “right.” This attitude is rarely helpful. It can make it difficult to change your perceptions of your partner and yourself.
Remind yourself that if one of you is correct, the other is not always correct. Your partner’s opposing viewpoints do not invalidate yours; they are simply different.
For example, your ideas about etiquette – how to act, talk, and socialise politely – may differ greatly from those of your partner. However, one of these points of view is not necessarily more correct than the other. They are simply distinct.
3. Respect and assist your partner’s needs. Developing empathy is probably the most important aspect of fighting for a relationship. Accepting your partner’s opinions and values should result in an effort on your part to meet their emotional and physical needs as best as you can without compromising yourself.
Be willing to compromise as long as your partner’s needs do not contradict your own. For instance, suppose religion is very important to your partner but not to you. Are you willing to help them with this aspect of their lives?
For example, suppose you and your partner have a squabble over affection and you now realise that your partner expresses affection in different ways than you, perhaps through gifts or gestures. Are you eager to learn this “language”? Your efforts will make your partner feel more valued.
Reuniting with an Ex
1. Check to see if your ex is still interested. We sometimes want to fight for a relationship that has ended or is about to end. This is not an uncommon occurrence. In fact, according to reports, up to 50% of younger adults reconcile at least once after a breakup. To find out if your ex is still interested in you, try reading the signals.
Be as subtle as possible. If you go too far, your ex may feel harassed, so it’s best to keep your distance, at least at first. Avoid making forced contact and having friends investigate on your behalf.
Try to glean hints from social media, mutual friends, or your ex-partner if you still have contact with him or her. Keep in mind that the odds are probably in your favour.
2. Make eye contact. If you’re still interested and have reason to believe your ex is, you should make contact. Try a low-key approach. Send a short message to your ex-partner on Facebook, for example, or a short email. Be brief and avoid being overbearing, or you may scare them away.
Have a reason for making the first contact. For example, you could say, “I was eating ice cream today and it reminded me of how much you love Chunky Monkey.” How are things going for you? ” Alternatively, “I just saw your name on Facebook and thought I’d say hello. I hope everything is going well for you.”
Allow your ex’s reaction to guide your next steps. If the response is curt, such as “Yeah, hope you’re well too,” your chances of reconciliation are slim. A more elated reaction may indicate interest.
If the response is positive, try to set up a meeting. Request a conversation over coffee or a drink, for example. Make it clear that all you want is a quick meeting with no strings attached.
3. Make sure the air is clear. Prepare what you want to say and how you want to say it. Choose your words carefully, because your ex is likely to still have strong feelings for you – both positive and negative. Say what’s on your mind – express regret, apologise if necessary – but do so tactfully.
Say you’re sorry things didn’t work out and that you’d like to talk to put the relationship back in perspective, for example, “I just wanted to see how you’ve been and to talk about what went wrong between us.”
Allow the discussion to direct what you say. If your ex is happy and seeing other people, don’t press the issue, but if they appear to have strong feelings for you, gradually steer the conversation toward reconciliation.
If your ex wants to rekindle the relationship, take things slowly. There were probably good reasons why things ended, issues that you’ll need to address seriously, perhaps through counselling.
If your ex isn’t interested in reconnecting, be prepared to move on. At the very least, know that you can bring the situation to a close.
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