Recurring conflicts that revolve around the themes of kids, in-laws, money, and/or sex drive a long-term relationship to narrow, uncomfortable places. It’s normal to get stuck in these slot canyons. The steps below will help you climb out and answer your question, “How can I save my relationship?”
- When you’re in a rough place, your stress level skyrockets. If you can’t manage your stress in healthy ways, you can’t go on to steps #2 and #3. (The exercise at the end of this blog will help you.)
- Once you are calm, you can respond instead of react to whatever comes your way. If you can’t deal with the stress, you’ll react by being angry or upset. You can only be responsive when you feel calm enough to self-reflect.
- Self-reflection is what will help you become creative at brainstorming and capable of making breakthroughs. If you keep hiding or running away from yourself, you won’t be able to understand how to get unstuck. Self-confrontation is the path to personal growth.
Anytime you feel uncomfortably stuck, first settle yourself down. It’s the most important thing you can learn how to do in life. I’m not exaggerating. Successful couples need to learn how to be expert stress-managers.
Wise and creative problem solving is never possible in a highly reactive state. A stressful state is not capable of finding the answer to how to save a relationship. Cultivate an inner state of calm, and you’ll know how to get out of that slot canyon and save your relationship.
Make your custom-made list long. No two people will have exactly the same list of healthy ways of dealing with stress. (Do not include drugs, alcohol, or harming yourself or others.) Write down everything you love, such as looking at leaves falling from the trees, walking the dog, catching snow flakes on your tongue, holding a baby, painting landscapes, playing Debussy’s piano compositions, sailing small boats, reading romance novels, writing poetry, anything and everything that makes you feel good. Keep your list ready to refer to time and time again whenever you feel down and out and unresourceful. Do at least one thing on your list and you’ll be on your way to getting unstuck.
Everyone would rather pop a pill (see the marriage cartoon) to solve a problem, but it’s not that easy.