Couples

Help For Distressed Romantic Relationships

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This article is designed to be a help for distressed romantic relationships. If you’ve been struggling in your own romantic relationship then you’re likely carrying around the burden of resentment and hostility. You probably place the balance of blame for how bad things have gotten squarely on the shoulders of your partner. And guess what? Your partner feels the exact same way. He or she is carrying around the burden of resentment and hostility towards you and places the balance of blame for how bad hings have gotten squarely on your shoulders.

The situation isn’t going to improve on its own, that much is obvious. But you’re not feeling like saying or doing things that could be coded as growth oriented, coded as positive, coded as relationship affirming, coded as constructive, precisely because you don’t feel positive feelings about your partner right now. You’re feeling resentful, hostile feelings. What’s more you blame your partner for how you feel. It’s hard to be positive when you’re not feeling positive, we all know this. Your partner isn’t saying or doing things that could be coded as growth oriented, coded as positive, coded as relationship affirming, coded as constructive either, for the very same reasons that you aren’t.

You’re both stuck in a vicious cycle, you’re on a sinking ship expecting that things can or should get better without feeling any sense of urgency to patch up those holes. Nothing is going to get better, and in fact things are only going to keep getting worse, unless one or both of you decides it’s time to interrupt that vicious cycle.

We suggest you do this by deciding that regardless of your internal negative state, regardless of the hostility and resentment you feel towards your partner, you decide to say or do five things a day in the presence of your partner that could be coded as growth oriented, coded as positive, coded as relationship affirming, coded as constructive. It doesn’t matter if you’re feeling it or not. Fake it! Who cares how you’re feeling? Feelings come and feelings go, like waves in the ocean. What matters is your underlying intention. What matters is your freedom to decide how you want to be in the world and how you want to act towards the people you care about.

Set yourself that goal. Push through your own emotional resistance and put positivity out there. Make your partner believe it even if you don’t right now. It’s not only that your partner will interpret your behaviors as relationship affirming, it’s that you’re retraining yourself to be relationship affirming. You don’t get to positivity through negativity, you get to positivity through positivity. You retain that freedom to be positive, even now as you’re feeling rather negative about the situation. If you want your relationship to improve you’ve got to force your way through the negativity, both by refusing to respond in kind to the negativity you believe is coming your way from your partner and by deciding to put your own consistent positivity out there several times a day even while it’s glossed over or minimized by your partner.

We’re not talking about ignoring the very real problems in your relationship. We’re talking about conscientiously changing the texture of interactions, of creating a space for positive emotions to bubble up instead of continuing to fan the flames of negativity while adding even more logs to the fire. By now you both are well aware that there are problems in the relationship. Choosing a growth oriented approach by saying or doing five things that could be coded as relationship affirming every day isn’t necessarily going to make these problems go away but it will make you both more committed to overcoming them and make you both feel a lot better about each other and your lives in the process.

Greetings I'm Michael, the owner of Evolution Counseling and the author of all the articles on this site. I got my master's degree from Seattle University in community mental heath counseling and have committed myself to advancing my knowledge of psychology and to evolving my own philosophical system ever since. In addition to the content on this site I offer online coaching using Skype. If you'd like to learn more about it click on the online coaching tab or if you think you'd like to set up a session send me an email at evolve@evolutioncounseling.com.

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