Your relationship may be running into tough times because of COVID or just because. The challenges can be exhausting to navigate, and you may wonder if you are going to make it through the rough waters to dry and safe land. However, these tough times are golden opportunities to heal your marriage and not allow your relationship to drown.
How Do You Push Through The Rough Patches?
When you come in with the expectation that there will be tough times, sometimes that helps you overcome the rough patches. Enjoy today if the waters are calm, but acknowledge that relationships sometimes encounter communication, family, medical or other issues.
Sometimes the rough patches are a golden opportunity to learn about yourself and your partner and how you can work together as a team to handle the difficulties in your relationship.
Don’t Give Up
Dr. Tatkin, founder of PACT, explains that “Relationships are hard”. He goes onto to state that most people think it’s because of the differences around money or sex or that you’re not right for each other or don’t have enough in common. However, unresolved issues from your past, your negative-biased brain (which everyone has), and misunderstanding in communication are usually the factors that create the challenges you may be experiencing in your relationship.
5 Things To Ask Yourself Before You GIve Up:
- Do we remember the good times? Remember how the two of you met and what attracted you to each other. Sometimes thinking about the good memories can reignite those positive feelings towards each other.
- Are we putting in the same amount of effort? You may want to be curious and explore if you have put your relationship on cruise control. For example, many couples stop taking and making time for each other and can’t remember when they last had fun. If that’s the case, then you can discuss how and why you put your relationship on the back burner and how you can both be more intentional about putting the relationship first.
- “Is our past impacting our future?” Your unresolved issues and trauma become very present when you are in a relationship. You and your partner may unknowingly trigger feelings deeply held inside you. Spend some time noticing if you are seeing your partner through a filter (if you can say to your partner that “you’re just like my father,” then you will see your partner through a filter). If that is the case, see if you can find a way to take a step back and discuss this with your partner when you are calm and feel relaxed.
- Am I showing up as the best version of myself? As a couples counselor, I hear daily how “I’m tired after work,” “I don’t feel like being present,” and “I’m just not in the mood.” Especially now, I have found that COVID has exhausted everyone’s reserves, and couples are tired of being at home and not going out, as well as just plain tired. However, in order for your relationship to make it, that attention is necessary. In order to make it happen, you will need to perform self-care or do something to recharge your battery and each other.
- Do you have the COAL attitude? Seigel developed the acronym, COAL, to stand for Curious, Open, Accepting, and Loving. Observe if, in your relationship, your partner and you act curious, open, accepting and loving toward each other. If not, then it may be helpful to take the time to discuss how that might create a more positive and enduring relationship.
With knowledge about your brain, attachment style and communication pattern, you will feel better equipped to improve your relationship.
Therefore, if you are feeling pessimistic about whether or not your relationship can survive, you may want to begin by watching some videos about how to improve your relationship or reading some books by Dr. John Gottman or Dr. Stan Tatkin.
If you are still struggling, before you throw in the towel, contact a qualified couples therapist to address the tough times happening in your relationship.
How Do You Heal And Grow
Whether you are a couple who faces the tough times and talks about it until you resolve it or you are a couple who avoids the issue and pushes it down the road so you don’t have to deal with the topic, make this situation an opportunity to build a stronger foundation for your relationship. There’s no right or wrong way to heal from the situation, but you will be able to heal and grow from the situation, if you work as a team.
Great Teammates keep these ideas in the forefront of their mind:
- have each other’s backs.
- take care of each other.
- think about how their actions impact the other teammate.
- check in with each other using eye contact, non-verbals or verbal cues.
- work on the relationship instead of putting it in cruise control and assuming that everything will be ok.
- hold themselves and others accountable for their actions
- come prepared and don’t sit back and wait for someone else to do the work.
- are reliable and can be counted on
Be a Great Teammate and partner for your spouse. As you recognize that you will have tough times in your relationship or marriage, consider and discuss how you want to work together to grow, heal and flourish.
Lisa Rabinowitz, LCPC is a licensed counselor in the state of Maryland and