What To Do If Your Romantic Relationship Has Gotten Off Track
“Words can travel thousands of miles.
May my words create mutual understanding and love.
May they be as beautiful as gems, as lovely as flowers.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh
If your romantic relationship has gotten off track then it’s likely that at times you’re both perceiving malicious intent where this is none, correctly identifying malicious intent but amplifying its magnitude, and ignoring or minimizing relationship affirming words and actions.
As long as the above perceptive triangle stays in place the relationship is probably going to keep deteriorating. What chance do you have when you miss all the instances that could strengthen your bond, cast innocuous words and actions in a negative light, and make mountains out of molehills when destructive words and actions invariably do come along?
Improving a distressed relationship has got to start with consciously tweaking perception to give your partner the benefit of the doubt again like you naturally and effortlessly did at the beginning of your relationship. Back then your perceptions of each other were skewed too actually, just in the polar opposite direction. You both at times perceived positive intent where there was none, correctly identified positive intent but amplified its magnitude, and ignored or minimized relationship deteriorating words and actions.
By consciously tweaking perception we’re not talking about wearing rose colored glasses, we’re not talking about willfully ignoring abusive behaviors. We’re talking about something like, “I know my partner is human and humans make mistakes sometimes. But this person cares about me and is basically well-intentioned. I’m going to start actively noticing those well-intentioned words and behaviors in the moment and I’m going to stop jumping on or blowing out of proportion the words and behaviors I interpret as ill-intentioned.”
Actively choosing to interpret the words and behaviors of your partner in a more positive light almost surely means aligning more with objective reality since most of us aren’t monsters. But this is only half the battle. The other side of the coin is realizing that the words and behaviors you have control over are your own. You always retain the freedom to respond as you see fit to given situations, even when you interpret these situations negatively and feel compelled to respond in kind. But you can decide that you’re going to make your behaviors relationship affirming, you’re going to make your words as beautiful as gems, as lovely as flowers. If your relationship is distressed your partner probably will ignore or minimize these relationship affirming actions at first and you have to realize that it’s okay because you’ve been doing the exact same thing.
Someone has to take responsibility for changing the course or your relationship. Make this someone you. Start noticing and celebrating the words and actions of your partner and make your own words and actions create mutual understanding and love.