3 simple steps to repair your relationship

Couples struggling in their relationship often don't know where to start when it comes to fixing the problems they are having. Hurt builds up in layers until each person slowly begins to shut down emotionally. It's easy to forget how the relationship and bond were made in the beginning, and over time partners can become despondent and frustrated. They don't want to give up on each other, but have no idea what to do.

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If this relates to you, working through the three simple steps below can help to restore your relationship and make it the best it's ever been, taking it to a new level of intimacy and passion. 

However, before I begin there's a catch...

You both have to be invested in building a better relationship together, otherwise it cannot work. One person cannot force the other. So if you are both ready and willing to get to know each other more deeply and re-build a great relationship please read on:

The three step couples growth sequence

Step 1: Safety

The first step is to rebuild relationship safety. This means learning to hear one another, ask questions and show a deep interest in each other. This is hard at first, especially if resentment, anger and distancing has taken hold.

When I first meet a couple, the first thing I notice is how they often blame, criticise, talk over and 'gaslight' each other (gaslighting is denying they have said or done something when you heard and saw them do it). They have no idea how to validate each other's perspective. Instead of attempting to understand one another's view point they defensively formulate what they want to say, and therefore there is zero emotional safety in the relationship. 

So, what is emotional safety? 

Quite simply, emotional safety is built through consideration, presence and space. This means that each person's viewpoint and feelings must be valued (whether you agree with them or not). If a person feels safe with another person they will open up emotionally and share their feelings. This is absolutely fundamental to a successful partnership. So how is it achieved? Quite simply by listening and responding. 

When your partner has something to say, simply stop, sit down together, turn and face them. Look them in the eyes and listen (this might be hard at first but it'll get easier). This shows consideration for their feelings and that you are present with them (not looking away, rolling your eyes or huffing).

Allow them the space to share their thoughts and feelings, then show you have heard them by reflecting back what they have said, rather than formulating a reply in your head. This is the foundation of great communication! Through this one major consistent change in how you both relate to each other, emotional safety will slowly build.

Step 2: Knowledge

The second step is to develop knowledge about the general differences between men and women (if you're in a heterosexual relationship). This is key. You might say that men and women are a different species (hence the saying 'men are from Mars and women, Venus'). Often both sexes feel that their partner has deliberately set out to hurt them. Whilst in some cases this might be true, often things that each sex takes personally are down to unique differences in male/female communication and behaviour.

New understanding and awareness of your differences will strengthen your relationship enormously.

In my sessions I help couples to understand these differences and also point them towards literature and content on the subject. It really is a matter of educating them on the sex differences as this is a topic none of us are taught in school. Start with the book Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus or The Evolution of Desire by David M Buss. The differences between the sexes should be understood and respected. Suffering is the equivalent of wanting things to be other than they actually are, hence not accepting reality. So begin to understand both male and female nature to heighten your understanding of your partner.

Step 2: Intimacy

In the third and final step, having both re-built safety and become more understanding and present with each other, you have a strong base to share intimacy together once again (this can only come from a base of emotional safety. I can't stress this enough. Rome wasn't built in a day). This means sharing fun, playful experiences together and creating new positive memories. It's what great relationships are all about!

It takes patience to re-develop intimacy, especially if resentment and emotional hurt has taken hold. Like a wound, healing takes place over time, scars over and becomes stronger. 

The trick here is to focus on doing new, unique and exciting things together. Breaking the mould of your past relationship is essential to building a new emotional connection. We associate a person with the emotion we feel when we are with them in that moment. So be aware of old places and patterns which evoke bad memories and dull emotions, they will stifle your progress together and are to be avoided, versus the joy and excitement of experiencing a fresh experience together.

If you're struggling in your relationship and would like to work with me on the three step couples growth sequence feel free to contact me via this page. You'll go from feeling frustrated, anxious and uncertain in your relationship to building emotional safety, and deeper knowledge and intimacy with your partner once again.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Romford RM3 & London W6
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Written by Adam Day, Counsellor/Psychotherapist
Romford RM3 & London W6

Adam Day is trained in various approaches as an integrative therapist; these include humanistic (person-centred/existential), cognitive behavioural, transpersonal and psychodynamic. He is available for therapy throughout the week from 10am to 8pm.

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