How to improve your relationship, prevent divorce and be yourself

Category: Better Relationships | Author: Elly Prior | First published: 05-08-2017 | Modified: 01-12-2017

Part 1Part 2Part 3, Part 4

You want your partner happy with you, I know. We’re halfway through looking at some of the reasons your relationship might be on the rocks. You’re worried that your partner doesn’t love you anymore. But you wonder if you can change that, and ‘make’ him or her see you the way they used to.

I want you to be loved, cared for, accepted and validated. But not at the expense of who you really are! I don't want you to blame yourself, or blame your partner, or think that you're not good enough or don’t deserve to be loved. Instead, I want to encourage you to become more of who you already are, and recognise what you already bring to this world.

It’s the latter two that really matter though. So I'm going assume that your partner is truly someone who deserves your love. And that you're not putting or keeping yourself in a position where you're going to be used or abused.

As Oprah Winfrey says - you being here is enough: "That sperm hit that egg!" Think about the odds of that!

So, I hope you feel my encouragement as you read this article. I’d love to help you reach the next level of being you. That’s the only way you can fall in love with yourself again, and perhaps that will help your partner fall in love with you again too. The former is the most important outcome, and the latter is the least! After all, you may love or have loved each other, but that doesn't necessarily say anything about your compatibility. Perhaps you aren't so well matched after all (keep an open mind!).

Take a look at the next 6 relationship problems that may play a role. Take action, but only do what feels right to you in your heart.

Image quote: Make a decision that you're not going to be a victim, that you'll do all you can to honour yourself, as well as your relationship. Make the necessary changes and you may just be able to save your relationship.

6. Are you in a relationship with someone who's simply unavailable?

There are people who have certain personality traits or who are in particular situations that may not be ready for a serious relationship. They won't make the most attentive partners, or they'll find it difficult to commit themselves.

I'm thinking of people who... 

  • are already married or in a relationship
  • have a fear of commitment
  • have only just broken up with someone else
  • are serial cheaters
  • suffer from an addiction
  • have severe mental health problems, etc. 

That doesn't mean they couldn't make a good partner, but at the moment it’s unlikely that they're ready to be in a serious relationship.

This subject is worth a whole separate article of its own! Do sign up to my blog to be notified when I publish new articles like this.

7. You've not updated your perception from the early days about what’s really needed to keep a relationship going

You fell in love, and thought you knew what it would take to build a healthy relationship (we all do early on). Or maybe you just took the plunge without ever giving it some serious thought. Now, though, you may well be shocked, hurt and disappointed that it isn't working out. Your hopes and expectations are, perhaps to your surprise, not coming to fruition.

We learn about relationships by experience, starting right from birth in the relationships we have with our parents/caregivers. Different relationships develop throughout our childhood, adolescence and early adulthood. Our experiences in any relationship can be anywhere on the scale from being utterly spoilt and 'mollycoddled' to being neglected, abused and (frequently) abandoned.

We learn about trust, boundaries, giving and receiving, judgement, reliability and accountability, safety and security, the value of our emotions, how to communicate and a whole lot more. All of these form the bedrock for our serious intimate relationships. Our experiences form an intricate, unconscious pattern which we only become aware of when we consciously reflect on them in the present. We learn how our emotions influence our boundaries, and what we value and nurture or reject.

The question is:

  • have you been able to develop yourself in that way?
  • Have you taken the time to reflect?
  • Have you taken conscious learning from your experiences - in a positive way?
  • Have you read books and articles on how relationships work?
  • Have you talked to a knowledgeable, wise and trustworthy person?
  • Have you challenged yourself to do better?
  • Have you had some counselling/therapy? (easy to get that sorted these days - see my page on online counselling)

It's normal to no longer feel so head over heals in love after a couple of years. That does not mean your relationship is doomed. It just means that your relationship has moved into a different phase. This offers a great opportunity to deepen and solidify your relationship. It requires you to invest in learning all about this new phase. You can see it as a chance to get to know yourself and your partner even better, to (re)discover and value what you both can bring to this new phase.

Take action now

STEP 1

Pop into your local (second hand) bookshop or go to your favourite online book retailer and order a book about relationships that appeals to you. Or riffle through your friends' bookshelves - they might have some gems! And, of course, keep reading my articles on this site and sign up for my free email courses. I make plenty of information freely available to help in your quest for knowledge and personal development.

STEP 2

Reflect daily on your role in everything that happens between the two of you. Don't judge yourself or your partner. Just be curious and try to see what’s really happening. Write it all down.

STEP 3

For each thing that happens between you every day, imagine 3 alternative ways of reacting. Did you get cross when you could have taken the time to listen harder? Did your partner jump to conclusions without letting you fully explain? Or perhaps you let something slide even though it made you feel uncomfortable - should you have challenged your partner in a calm, constructive way?

Image quote: In the whole world there's only one of you. I want you to shine and share of yourself.

8. You're just surviving from day to day. You may, or may not be, depressed

Around 50% of people who are having relationship problems are depressed. No wonder. However, if you're just surviving and not building meaning and purpose in your life, you've very little to share with your partner. In a state of depression, you're also unlikely to have the spare capacity to be truly interested in your partner's life.

Just to be clear, I'm not talking about being depressed after life-changing events, circumstances or a great loss. Though these can be terribly sad times and may test you to the limit, they are part and parcel of life. It's normal and expected for these to throw a shadow on your life and blacken your moods for some time. That does not mean you suffer from depression and are in need of prescribed antidepressants. (They’re never a solution anyway and are likely to make the outcome worse!) It’s likely that your sadness and low mood will disappear with the passing of time.

Here, I’m talking about long-term low mood, little interest or enjoyment in anything, and minimal activity other than robotically going through the motions of everyday life.

Of course you'd want your partner to take care of and support you if you're depressed - that's a reasonable expectation.

However, he or she would no doubt want to know that, after a period of time at least, you're actively working on your recovery. I know that can be difficult when you’re in the midst of depression. But, if you want your relationship to survive this difficult time, you can't just rely on antidepressants (I would not ever suggest you do anyway) - or on your partner to fix everything. Hoping and wishing for better times isn't going to do it either, I’m afraid! You and I know there's so much more in you! And you can find plenty of help for overcoming depression in the pages of my website.

Take action now

You'll first have to fall in love with life and yourself again. Only then can you expect your partner to fall in love with you again (if indeed they've stopped loving you).

Here are 3 steps you can take:

  1. Choose an interest or hobby you can totally immerse yourself in - preferably something completely new (downloadable pdf). Note: it must not be something that keeps your fingertips permanently stuck to a keyboard! Go old school and try something that isn’t digital!
  2. Write out a careful plan with specific actions you're going to undertake for the next 30 days to look after and develop yourself. Tiny steps are absolutely fine to start with; build in progress as you go along. Your plan really needs to include exercise and good nutrition too (see Dr Kelly Brogan's work)
  3. Undertake some (additional) voluntary work. It doesn't have to involve an organisation - you can aim for at least one Random Act of Kindness every day. In addition, do at least one or two RAoKs every day for your partner. It's important to do that without any expectation of a return RAoK or thank you, though. Realise that you're benefitting from the act of giving, and your partner is benefitting by receiving!

9. You suffer from an addiction

Perhaps you've counted on the love and support of your partner, despite your addiction. Perhaps he or she wasn't aware of the extent of your addiction. You may have been able to hide it to some extent, so they’ve never known the true scale of the problem. Perhaps they’ve found out, and now you're worried they might leave you. However desperate you're feeling, you know there's only one way you can remedy the situation. And, yes, it's going to take all your courage!

Addicted to alcohol (or any other substance), gaming, porn, gambling, hoarding, spending money or anything else? The only way you may be able to get your partner or spouse to stay with you is to become and remain actively engaged in overcoming your addiction:

  • Be open about it
  • Ask your partner for understanding and support
  • Seek professional help

Notice how your partner is 'supporting' you. Could he or she by any chance be consciously or unconsciously supporting the maintenance of your addiction?

If you’re not willing to work on overcoming your addiction, the only way you and your partner will be able to move forward is separately. I know that sounds harsh! But I’m afraid out of control addictions only serve to erode relationships over time.

Take action now

Here are 3 steps you can take today:

  • Seek help - do a Google search for organisations in your area that offer help with your particular addiction. Contact one right away and immediately follow up on the first email or call received. You could also contact Better Help for online counselling with a professional, licensed therapist. For further information, see my page: Online Mental Health Counselling.
  • Write down the stories you've already told yourself about why you can't or won't go through with that (if indeed you've decided not to go ahead and get help). Challenge them. Ask yourself which you want most: to hide your head in the sand, or to try to rebuild your relationship with the person you love?
  • Read my article on communication to learn how best to talk to your partner about the challenges you're facing. Talk to them today or tomorrow, or as soon as possible.

10. You've closed yourself off and built a wall around you

The only reason you’d have done this is because you've been terribly hurt - either recently, or in the past. You've got scared, felt vulnerable and understandably have built a wall around you, anxiously hoping it will protect you from further injury. That wall perhaps needed to be there whilst you slowly recovered from an insult to your body/mind. It provided a safe space to rebuild your 'self' and learn to trust yourself and others again.

However, if you've cut yourself off in an attempt to avoid experiencing pain and sadness, you’ve also cut yourself off from experiencing happiness. But you do deserve to feel happy again!

So, be sure your wall has doors and windows, through which you can reach out to others and ask for help. Others, including your partner, will then have an opportunity to reach out to you, to hold, support and guide you.

It's now time to reassess the structure of your wall in the light of the reason you've found this article. This is all about building trust - if indeed you are still in the right relationship.

Your plan of action

  1. Watch (several times) the video below and learn from Brene Brown what trust really means. Discover what you ideally should be able to expect from a trusting relationship. You'll have the right information to open up a new kind of conversation with your partner with regards to your compatibility.
  2. Assess whether indeed your partner is deserving of your trust. To help with this, I recommend you take a look at my article Signs of an Abusive Relationship
  3. Reassess your wall and your relationship. Is the wall serving a necessary purpose? Could you perhaps be better off ending this relationship or marriage?

11. You've lost yourself in the process of trying to please your partner

I suspect the moment you read this, you knew it was you. You've given your all in the belief that this is what you do in a relationship. Of course, there's nothing wrong with the intent. However, if that has meant you've been working hard to adapt yourself to the person you thought your partner would want, you're no longer the person he or she fell in love with!

Your plan of action

Here are some questions for you to reflect on:

  • Did you give with an expectation of an immediate reciprocation? In school, this would look like: I'm giving you my lollipop, but I expect you to let me sit next to you and be kind to me. This is disingenuous - normally your partner can feel this and will probably reject it.
  • Did you give your all at the expense of your own values and beliefs? That definitely means you're no longer the person you used to be.
  • Did you give up on things and people that were important to you for the sake of pleasing your partner?
  • Do you feel your sense of self-worth is now completely tied up with what your partner thinks of you? If so, chances are you're both stuck in an unhealthy pattern of relating.

Based on your answers, decide that it’s time to reclaim some of yourself! You’ll know in which ways you’ve compromised who you really are - so you can devise some really specific steps to get back to being the person you want to be.

Use this worksheet to help you get started....

Free printable worksheet

Specially for you - to help you move forward. Click the link to download the Reclaim Yourself worksheet.

12. You suffer from (unexplained) mood swings

There's nothing quite as trying and tiring as being with someone who, at the drop of a hat, or from one day to the next, changes their mood. It's soul-destroying for the person on the receiving end as well as for yourself.

Your partner always has to wonder what mood you're going to be in - at that event, when asked this or that, when you’re out together or in a group, when you’re waking up in the morning or going to bed at night. Often, they’ll be walking on egg shells for fear of sparking a sudden change of mood.

Your plan of action

STEP 1
Research if you could be suffering from any of the following:

  • Blood sugar imbalances
  • Food intolerances or sensitivity (certain grains or dairy for example)
  • Vitamin deficiencies (almost certainly if you're eating fast-foods and drinking soda)
  • Thyroid problems
  • Side effects of any medication (check the label and research online)
  • Post-traumatic stress
  • Build up of stress

STEP 2
Read Dr Kelly Brogan's book: A Mind of Your Own (or her online blog), to learn how you can adapt your diet and daily habits to balance and improve your mood. Dr Brogan is a psychiatrist who treats people suffering from mood swings, depression, anxiety and other mental health problems completely without medication.

STEP 3
Own the problem, explain it to your partner, apologise and let him or her see you're making some positive changes

Your mood swings can also be caused by:

  • the contraceptive pill
  • premenstrual symptoms
  • inflammation
  • a 'leaky' gut (yes, really! All kinds of stuff gets in your bloodstream which can cause havoc in your body)

To learn more about all this and how to balance your mood within a month, visit Dr Kelly Brogan's website. Just type mood swings in the search box.

Finally

We’ve now looked at 12 common relationship problems you have a great measure of control over. If you've identified something that fits with you and you want to change it, you can! Perhaps your partner will fall in love with you again - but there are no guarantees. Remember: we can never “make” someone do anything. 

But, if it does become clear that it’s time for your relationship to end, at least you’ll have grown!

Personal counselling or therapy can really help you on the journey, as can couple therapy or counselling. And trust that you have the strength and the ability to make positive changes that will lead to a happier, more fulfilling life for you. I have faith in you!

Free printable download

Download the printable PDF of Make Him or Her Love You Again for free!

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Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

Related articles

5-Point Plan to Fix Your Relationship
Children in the Middle
How to Keep Your Long-Distance Relationship Alive
How to Deal with a Jealous Partner
How to Deal with Depression

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Elly Prior

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It's me - Elly Prior, I'm the Founder and Author of this site. I'm a 'real' person! I'm hoping to make a positive difference, small or large, to every person who visits my site.

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