Helen Keller once said, “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even heard, but must be felt with the heart.” Of course, she was talking about relationships. A relationship thrives on emotions, desires, compatibility, expectations, and love for each other. So what does it take to have a successful relationship, especially given the inevitable fact that life comes with its own share of upheavals, and relationships tend to become dull, monotonous, or end at some point or another? However, not every failing relationship meets the same fate. Beyond irreconcilability, the fervent need to work on a relationship can bring back that lost spark. With changing a few things around, and pushing all the right buttons, you can successfully reset your relationship and strengthen your bond even further. Here’s some expert advice on what to do.
Identify The Cracks
In order to introduce life back into a lacklustre relationship, figuring out the source of the muddle is a prerequisite. The key is figuring out why you and your partner are not un sync or taking wrong turns when it comes to effective communication in the relationship. After identifying underlying issues, working towards cementing your bond and priorities can further pave the way into restructuring your relationship. “Poor communication, imposing rigid belief systems that may not accommodate your partner’s emotional needs or perspective, or making assumptions and judgements towards each other can all be considered weeds of an unhealthy relationship. Identifying and working on those factors as a team always works,” suggests Mimansa Singh-Tanwar, consultant clinical psychologist, Fortis Healthcare. In the case of husband and wife Suraj and Manisha Gulavane*, their relationship was rapidly spiralling downwards due to professional insecurities. “I was earning more than Suraj did, and that showed in our regular conversations. Although he wouldn’t express it blatantly, I knew that was the case since we started growing distant after my big promotion. Our differences became prominent; small arguments would flare into big fights. Finally, we resorted to couple’s therapy as I didn’t know how to solve this on my own. A couple of sessions into the therapy, he and I both figured out where we faltered and eased our way into it,” says Manisha, revisiting the time their relationship almost hit a dead end. If you find it difficult to steer sensitive conversations without guidance, seeking help from an expert can be really beneficial.
Reframe Your Needs
A relationship is where you seek comfort and companionship, somebody to lean on, as well as celebrate each other and your individuality. It is coming together and being there for each other, without losing your individuality. “The foundation of a strong relationship depends on how well a couple shapes their relationship identity by balancing the ‘we’ and the ‘I’ in the relationship. It is about teamwork, and fulfilling roles and responsibilities that go beyond gender stereotypes and societal influences,” says Singh-Tanwar. What is often stated as equality in the relationship is achieved not by a scalable measurement of equal efforts but through mutual support that couples provide by being sensitive and accommodating of each other’s needs. Mumbai-based psychologist, Sushreeta Sule believes mutual contributions go a long way in rebuilding relationships. “Relationships can be nourished to health with a little TLC. More than ‘tender loving care’, it is ‘Together Let’s Contribute’,” she says.
Navigate Expectations Wisely
When relationships start to resemble business deals, there is no room left for emotions. Instead, experts suggest resorting to a show of unconditional affection, without expecting anything in return. This will strengthen your emotional standing and your relationship. Sule adds, “Expectations tend to carry a great deal of weight. As a result, when there is a great deal of weightage tied to a certain action or expectation, there is a high likelihood of experiencing stress and fatigue in the relationship. Hence, it is important to first change the way you look at the dynamics.” She also adds a simple change in your responses towards your partner will make a huge difference. Instead of totally dismissing an idea, suggestion or a discussion, perhaps you can be more accepting and have a conversation around the same. Mumbai-based relationship expert and author, Shahzeen Shivdasani advises, “Do not expect things to change overnight. Good relationships are normally a series of good habits. It’s the small things that we practice daily. Most importantly, it takes time. Do not presume that some of your efforts have gone unnoticed. Do not feel unheard, unloved, or underappreciated. Everyone has their own ways of dealing with their own pressures. Be patient, and understand that effort is key.” As long as you put the required effort and believe in strengthening the roots, your relationship will slowly start healing its wounds.
Fuse The Broken Connection
Whatever the reason the rift in your relationship, there is always a way to mend it. Sometimes, the simplest way is starting over. This doesn’t mean letting go of the underlying issues but merely giving each other the benefit of the doubt and a clean slate to prove themselves. And, if you have taken the onus of rebuilding that broken bond with your partner, take the first step. Ask questions like “What can I do for you?” or “How can I show you that things will be better?” and be prepared to put in the effort to make things right. Likewise, your partner working on doing the same will effectively solve miscommunication and reignite that passion. “We tend to take each other for granted and forget to put in the work emotionally, mentally, and physically. Open up to one another and have deeper conversations about life and your feelings. Try taking out some free time and try reviving your stagnant sex life—cuddle, hug, kiss, and flirt with each other for starters. This will slowly revive your lost spark and fix your sexual blues,” advises Shivdasani. Communication is often regarded as the founding stone of any relationship, romantic or otherwise. However, what many tend to overlook is the importance of being a good listener as well. “Attentive and empathetic listening, which reflects curiosity, relatedness, and verbal and non-verbal emotional validation to express compassion and love is the most effective way to re-build that lost connection. Be honest in your communication and build confidence in your relationship by being open and honest with your partner, and encouraging your SO to open up as well. Creating a safe and judgement-free space for expression will go a long way,” insists Singh-Tanwar.
Relationships, just like wine, get better over time. While some tend to fall into disrepair, with effort and nurturing, you can rebuild your relationship and stay true to what really matters.
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