Step 1 – Make sure that you really do want to save the relationship
Often we are in pain over a relationship and want to make it last, even though deep down we know it’s not a healthy situation for us. It can be very difficult to save a relationship that we know isn’t right for us because we will be giving mixed messages and creating conflict.
Give this step some serious thought. If you truly believe the relationship is worth saving, then…
Step 2 – Give your partner what they need most at this time
What does your partner crave most right now in the relationship? In most cases, it is one of two things:
Odds are that lately you haven’t been meeting this need of theirs because it clashes with yours.
If you’ve been distant, it’s time to move a bit closer. If you’ve been overwhelming your partner, it’s time to move back and give them some breathing room.
Once you’ve spent some time meeting your partner’s main need and created some trust…
Step 3 – Share your stories
When you are talking to your partner, ask them to share with you the story of what has been going on for them recently in regards to the relationship. Listen carefully and mirror back what you’re hearing to make sure you’ve understood. Then ask if you can share your story. Stories are powerful. And try to focus on hearing their story and telling yours rather than finger pointing at each other at this stage.
Step 4 – Re-Romanticize
If Steps 2 and 3 of how to save a relationship have gone well, there should be some more trust and emotional rapport between you now. You might be tempted now to pressure for some kind of commitment. But instead, try putting yourselves in situations like those where you fell for each other in the first place. This is based on a technique called re-romanticizing that the great relationship therapist Harville Hendrix recommends. What did you used to be doing together when you fell in love? Go do some of those things again, even if you don’t feel like it before you do them.
Step 5 – Discuss the relationship’s status
Many people jump right to step 5. But if you do this without having built trust and comfort first, you may just push your partner further away. Only now, having done steps 1-4, it’s time to open up a more serious discussion of where things stand. If all has gone well, the bond will be rekindled between you and there will be a mutual desire to commit to each other again.
Saving a relationship can never be an exact science. Not every relationship can be saved. You can only do the best you can to make things work. Ultimately, your partner is a free person and has to make their own choice. But if you do these steps, you can be proud that you gave the relationship a chance, tried your very best to save your relationship and live with whatever the outcome is.