People in painful relationships sometimes remind me of old-fashioned foot soldiers – both people are hiding in fear of attack behind a big shield with their daggers drawn. This is no way to build a close & loving relationship!
Joking aside, you need to create a place of safety if you want to repair the damage & make it work. But how do you do that ?
There is certainly no quick fix when trust in a relationship has broken down to this extent: you are usually talking about a marathon or a long haul trip, certainly not a sprint.
These are some of the most important steps. They may seem like little things but they are not easy & over time, the best research in this area shows, they can make all the difference.
1) Apologise fully for any wrong doing but don’t expect that to be the last of it. If you’ve let your partner down badly in some way, they have every right to be angry & the trust is not going to be repaired easily.
2) Actions speak louder than words-listen to your partners complaints & act on them- but remember that repairing trust is a long haul operation- & be prepared to keep it up under fire!
3) Start noticing & acknowledging what your partner is doing right ( in relationships that are in difficulty we tend to focus only on what our partner is doing wrong – reminding ourselves of what they are doing right can help us to get a better perspective).
4) Give your partner more attention. Attention is the currency of love! We all need attention & the importance of regularly giving your partner the gift of your undivided attention cannot be overstated. In these days of tablets, smart phones, & games consoles- we have never had more demands on our attention- & our relationships can all too easily pay the price.
5) Find opportunities to show affection. Small gestures of affection can go along way in keeping romance alive. Affection is one of the things that can easily be neglected in a long-term relationship- leading over time to people drifting apart, becoming emotionally disconnected & having nothing to say to each other.
People get out of the habit of showing affection- & it takes a whole lot of effort to turn that round & make it a natural part of the relationship again. But like all things- showing affection gets easier with practise! So start in a small way- a squeeze of the shoulder, a touch of the arm- but just do it! You know it makes sense!
In these five ways you can begin repairing & building the all important foundations of the relationship- the friendship. This is what needs to happen in order to start creating a place of safety & trust between you.
Then, with the friendship repaired, you to be able to lay down your daggers, come out from behind your shields & look at your difficulties, clearly in the open together. Only then can you work out a way of addressing your difficulties- together -as a team!