by Rolonda Williams, LCMFT

February 4th, 2021

Experiencing hardship is almost like a right-of-passage for every relationship. Even the healthiest marriages encounter very dark times during which the relationship is jeopardized. Most relationships experience challenging moments where partners might feel that it would be less painful if they just called it quits. Although this is the time of year that love is in the air, we are also living through unprecedented times that drastically exacerbate the stress placed on our relationships. What should we do when partners feel that they are at their wits’ end?

  1. Disrupt Your Cycle: Usually when partners are experiencing difficulty, it becomes even more challenging to communicate effectively. This is the point at which couple therapy is most helpful. It provides partners with tools to disrupt unhealthy communication patterns that leave both partners feeling unheard. The goal is not only to have your thoughts and feelings heard, but also to understand where your partner is coming from. This often requires taking a time-out, regulating your emotions and coming back to the conversation with a new way of thinking and talking. This is a healthier method of relaying your feelings and receiving the feelings of your partner; even if they are negative. In order to feel heard, you must also be willing to objectively listen without internalizing your partner’s negative emotions.
  2. Don’t Wait Too Long: Unfortunately, some couples wait to begin couple therapy after the relationship has already suffered extensively. Explore couple therapy as an option before the relationship gets to a place of no return. Some partners make the mistake of refusing to attend couple therapy after their partner has requested it. Be open and flexible to learning something new that can assist your relationship in growing over time rather than becoming stuck in a rut. There’s nothing wrong with getting help and support.
  3. Break Up Monotony: In some cases, our relationships suffer from the reality that things have become monotonous. This is especially true during the pandemic during which coping is very limited. Routine is incredibly important especially for those couples with children. However, sometimes it becomes necessary to break the routine in order to gain perspective on the relationship. Break routine for a breakthrough! Our relationship can be rejuvenated in many ways, whether through a small trip, a creative date night, a weekend at a hotel, virtual yoga, a picnic or simply doing something out of the norm. The relationship is much less daunting when we are able to connect emotionally and spend time enjoying one other. In those moments, we are reminded of why we are together.

Most couples recognize that love is not enough but it is a foundation. Love requires maintenance in addition to respect and willingness. These two components allow us to give our partners the benefit of the doubt, gain perspective and realize that we have bad times. However, bad times do not necessarily equate to a bad relationship. Happy Relationship Wellness Month!