The How to Fix a Relationship Roadmap

If your relationship is having trouble, here's a roadmap to help you get things back on track. It's got two parts. First, you have to learn to follow the "four essential rules of the road" for healthy relationships. And then, you can use the "how to fix a relationship" map to rebuild the love you used to feel.

Although this article gives you the basic outline for how to fix a relationship, it's certainly not an easy journey. The Power of Two Online provides detailed activities, videos and worksheets to help you learn and practice the skills you'll need to succeed. And, Power of Two members get the support of a real Power of Two marriage and relationship specialist to help answer your questions and support you along the way.

Part I: Four Essential Rules of the Road

1. Stay in your lane.

That means that when you talk, share information about yourself, the mistakes you've made, and how you would like to handle sensitive situations differently in the future. Do not cross the center line and talk about your partner, guess what he or she thinks or feels, or tell him or her what to do. Just like crossing the center lane on a highway, crossing from your lane to your partner's lane will cause accidents. Blame, criticism, and accusations are about your partner. Don't go there.

2. Focus on what makes sense

in what your partner says to you. Assume that even if your partner expresses his or her concerns clumsily or offensively, they are valid and important concerns that you need to hear. Learning how to fix a relationship involves listening to learn, not defending yourself or showing what's wrong with what you are hearing.

3. Keep a sunny climate.

Thunderstorms with big winds of anger will blow you out of each other's lives. If your emotions are getting stormy, take a break and return to talking when you both have returned to a calmer, sunnier mood.

4. Cherish each other.

Treat each other consistently with the respect, consideration and affection you would show to someone whom you truly treasure.

Part II: The Map

Whether you're surviving an affair or trying to repair lesser marriage problems, the path is essentially the same.

1. Start out by heading down the road of healing past wounds. As you talk about the upsetting interactions that have distressed you in the past, look back on these upsetting incidents to find what you yourself can learn from each. When thinking about how to fix a relationship, mistakes are for learning. Share what you experienced, and think aloud about what you would do differently next time. If your partner joins you and does the same, convert past upsets to valuable learning moments in your life journey together.

As you move forward, be sure to remember Rules of the Road number one of couples therapy-- stay in your lane. No telling your partner what he or she did wrong. Just focus on insights about yourself.

2. After a brief trip down the road of healing past wounds, the next turn in how to fix a relationship is to explore new paths for your relationship – new ways of dealing with similar situations when they arise again in the future. For this part of your journey, remember to keep your eyes on the road ahead. What's done is done. This part of the journey is about creating a plan for a new, better future.

Offer ideas of what you will do differently, starting now and into the future. Create new solutions to the old problems that have created tensions between you, not by telling your partner what you want him or her to change, but by offering what you yourself will do differently.

3. Lastly, this map has a few big DO NOT ENTER signs. Stay off side roads that go to alcohol and other addictions, to excessive anger, and to affairs. Those roads are guaranteed to take you further and further away from your destination.

One last comment.

In order to succeed on this journey, you're going to need great communication skills. The Power of Two Online is an affordable, personalized, and effective alternative to marriage counseling that will help you learn the skills you need to fix the problems in your relationship.

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I'm Dr. Abigail Hirsch. I lead the Power of Two coaching team. We are here to help you stop fighting and build trust, intimacy and love.

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Dr. Abigail Hirsch

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Funding for this project was provided by the United States Department of Health Services, Administration for Children and Families, Grant 90-FE-0123. Any opinions, finding, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Department of Health and Human Servies, Administration for Children and Families.