Are you finding yourself struggling to navigate one, or several, relationships in your life? You might be wondering how to fix the problems in your relationships, or wishing you had better relationships with certain people. You may even be at a crossroad, asking yourself, “Can my relationship even be fixed?”
Relationships are complex. No two relationships are the same, and it is with this uniqueness that we find ourselves enjoying many different types of relationships throughout our lives. Whether the relationship you’re struggling with is a friendship, a romantic partner or spouse, family member, colleague, or your child, no two relationships are the same. However, all relationships require both individuals to be actively working on the relationship. If both people are willing to do the work, regardless of the situation, any relationship can improve.
4 Steps to Help You Improve Your Relationship
- Verbalize Your Needs
People do not know what we need from them unless we tell them. It is essential to verbalize your needs in all relationships so that the other person knows how to best support you. If you are needing specific support or are feeling unheard in your relationship, telling them what you need can be a quick way to get your needs met better. Start by saying something small, such as “I need to talk to you about something that is bothering me,” or “I need some time alone, let’s talk later.”
- Ask for Help
Again, unless we vocalize what we need help with in a clear manner, our support system does not automatically know when we are needing help. Asking for help, while at times can be hard for us to do, is important to having a less stressful relationship. Asking for help could look like, “Can you pick up the kids for me? I’m still busy at work.” Or, “I am getting overwhelmed, can you give me a few minutes alone?”
- Change The Way You Communicate
Many of our relationship problems stem from ineffective communication habits. When communicating in any relationship, it is recommended to use assertive language that sends the message of “I respect you and I respect me”. Yelling, name calling, saying you’re fine when you’re not, and not communicating have all been shown to increase stress within relationships. If you feel communication is hard in your relationships, it could be an area that needs more of your attention.
- Set Healthier Boundaries
Boundaries are the invisible barriers within your relationships that tell the other person how they are supposed to treat you. Designed to help you maintain healthy relationships, boundaries have to be set and enforced by you. They do not occur naturally, which is why different relationships have different boundaries. If you struggle to say “no” when needed, feel responsible for the other person’s problems, and/or feel the relationship is “one-sided”, your boundaries likely need restructured/ better enforced.
Improving relationships takes work and time. Start with the above suggestions and see if they can be used in your own relationships to better communicate and reduce stress/conflict. If you are still needing help with certain aspects of relationships, talking to a trained professional, therapist, or couple’s counselor can also be helpful.
When “Fixing” the Relationship is Not Recommended
While the above steps have been proven to strengthen relationships and resolve conflict, there are certain situations in which these steps are not helpful nor recommended. If you are currently in a relationship and are feeling unsafe in any way, have experienced abuse or neglect of any kind, and/or you are being threatened or controlled by this person, your safety is more important than that relationship. If you feel any of this describes the relationship you’re wanting to fix, please reach out for immediate assistance to ensure your personal safety and receive support at 1-800-799-7233 or visit www.thehotline.org.