Maybe things started hot and heavy but are beginning to fizzle. Maybe your partner’s love of gaming has gone from “charming quirk” to “annoying habit.” Whatever the reason, you feel like your relationship is floundering, and you want to save it while you still have the chance.
So how can you strengthen a struggling relationship? Like overcoming any adversity, it takes patience and time. The following nine tips will help as well.
1. Schedule Time Together Weekly
Distance might make the heart grow fonder — but it can also make attention wander. If you love your partner, you need to spend time with them. Hanging out can prove problematic if one of you is serving overseas, but assuming you’re civilians, make your relationship a priority by scheduling time together.
If you and your beau work opposing schedules, you could live together but see each other as passing ships. If so, you need to decide what you genuinely value. If you want to save your marriage, one of you may need to work fewer hours or switch jobs. Consider it an exercise in compromise.
2. Plan a Getaway Together
Sometimes, a change of scenery is all you need to renew the spark in your relationship. If you’re the outdoorsy, sunshine-and-beaches type, you might want to take a trip to Cape May. Are you both inveterate motorheads? Take a trip to Greenfield Village, where you can learn more about Henry Ford, the inventor of the modern automotive assembly line.
You don’t have to spend a ton of money to take a mini-vacation. You can look into glamping resorts and rent a vintage Airstream for a fraction of a fancy hotel room.
3. Call Them Pet Names
Relationships invent individual languages over time, and this love-talk reminds you that you’re no longer a “me,” but a “we.”
Pet names show your partner you care without spending a dime. Create names unique to your relationship. Your friends will find your commitment charming — if a bit saccharine.
4. Hold Hands in Public
Maybe you’re not the sort for public displays of affection. No one says you need to make out at the table when you’re at a restaurant. But holding hands while you shop for groceries or stroll a museum’s grounds together will make you feel closer.
Take the time to give your partner nonsexual displays of physical affection. If you study the five love languages, you’ll discover that this technique works particularly well with those who value touch. Plus, cuddling releases oxytocin, a chemical that alleviates depression and anxiety.
5. Declare a Moratorium on Past Wrongs
Did your partner forget your birthday last year? Perhaps they committed something a little more serious like infidelity. Whatever their misdeed, throwing it back in their face months or years later is a sure way to end up in Splitsville.
Dredging up the past shows a fundamental disrespect for your partner and their commitment to change. It sends the message, “No matter what you do, I will never forgive you.” With odds like that, what incentive do they have to stay and work things out?
6. Learn When to Walk Away — Temporarily
Sometimes, trying to force intimacy can backfire. If every little thing your partner does rubs you the wrong way lately, you might need a temporary break from them.
This pause doesn’t mean your relationship is over. It means you respect each other enough to give space when needed. Spend the weekend going out with your friends instead of Netflix and chill with your sweetie. Take a solo camping trek. Give yourself the time you need to sort out your feelings.
7. Write Each Other Letters
In the heat of battle, you say things you don’t mean. However, if you bottle up your emotions to avoid conflict, you might start resenting your partner. Let them know how you feel safely by writing them a letter.
The best part? You never have to share what you wrote if you don’t want to do so. You can also return to your letter and edit it before you deliver it. Sometimes, you need to vent, and once you do, you might rip your pages up and throw them away.
8. Text Each Other Each Day
Some couples work and live together. Others see each other once a month. Both manage to make it work, but how? One way is harnessing technology to maintain contact.
You don’t want to go overboard by texting your beau every five minutes. Practice etiquette. If they seem slow to respond or don’t answer, don’t assume they’re cheating. Maybe they’re meeting with their boss or have their head under the hood of their vehicle.
That said, a simple message of “I love you” in the morning can start their day — and yours — off right.
9. Seek Couples Therapy
If you still feel a disconnect but you want to save your love, consider couples therapy. The purpose of these sessions isn’t to lay blame at any partner’s feet, but to foster open communication. Under the guidance of a neutral third party, you can discuss sensitive topics without fearing things will spiral into a shouting match.
To find a therapist, start by giving your health insurance company a call. If you live near a university, graduate students in counseling may offer low-cost sessions. Friends and family can sometimes provide recommendations, too.
Salvage a Struggling Relationship With Love
If you want to save your struggling relationship, you need to invest time and emotion. However, if you genuinely love your partner, you’ll gladly make the effort.