It's the rare couple that doesn't run into a few bumps in the road. If you recognize ahead of time, though, what those relationship problems might be, you'll have a much better chance of getting past them.
Marriage and family therapist Mitch Temple, author of The Marriage Turnaround,says that in spite of the fact that every relationship has its ups and downs, successful couples have learned how to manage them and keep their love life going.
They gain success in marriage by hanging in there, tackling problems, and learning how to maneuver through the complex issues of everyday life. Many do this by reading self-help books and articles, attending seminars, going to counseling, observing other successful couples, or simply using trial and error.
1. First, you must decide whether the relationship is worth saving. While almost every relationship can be saved with hard work, both parties must decide that they want to make it work. Because if a partner has opted out and doesn’t want to opt back in, there is little that can be done.
Many people stay in a relationship because it is convenient or remain in a marriage because of the children. But that is not enough. How to save a relationship starts with a commitment by both parties that the relationship is worth saving.
2. If you can't "communicate" without raising your voices, go to a public spot like the library, park, or restaurant where you'd be embarrassed if anyone saw you screaming.
3. Use body language to show you are listening. Don’t doodle, look at your watch, or pick at your nails. Nod so the other person knows you're getting the message, and rephrase if you need to.
For instance, say, "What I hear you saying is that you feel as though you have more chores at home, even though we're both working." If you're right, the other can confirm.
If what the other person really meant was, hey, you're a slob and you create more work for me by having to pick up after you, he or she can say so, but in a nicer way.
4. Plan, plan, plan. Fay suggests making an appointment, but not necessarily at night when everyone is tired. Maybe during the baby's Saturday afternoon nap or a "before-work quickie." Ask friends or family to take the kids every other Friday night for a sleepover.
"When sex is on the calendar, it increases your anticipation," Fay says, adding that mixing things up a bit can increase your sexual enjoyment as well. Why not have sex in the kitchen? Sex by the fire? Sex standing up in the hallway?
5. Next, you must pinpoint the problem or problems in a relationship. One of the biggest problems in how to save a relationship is that people believe the symptoms of the problem are the problem itself.
For instance, many people think an affair is a problem that causes break ups. In truth, the affair is a symptom of a deeper problem. For instance, a lack of true intimacy can lead to a straying spouse.
While most people look at the affair as the problem, the underlying cause of the affair was the lack of intimacy in the primary relationship. If you do not deal with the lack of intimacy, you might be able to keep another affair from starting through the use of guilt, but another problem (for instance pornography) could pop up because you haven’t dealt with the core issue.
When you start to deal with core issues rather than symptoms, you can save the relationship.
6. You should realize that saving a relationship is an ongoing process. You are going to take two steps forward only to take one step back. There is going to be both laughter and tears going forward.
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7. If your sexual relationship problems can't be resolved on your own, Fay recommends consulting a qualified sex therapist to help you both address and resolve your issues.