DOING A RELATIONSHIP RESET – HOW TO START OVER
Relationships typically do not fail because couples do not love each other. Most of the time, they fail because the couple is exhausted from trying to make things work, and they have given up hope. Communication fails, and there is often a lack of trust. However, starting over with a clean slate is possible – to push the reset button and begin again. The following suggestions can help you if you and your partner want to do this.
- Get some space. It is usually a good idea to take a break from the relationship and to get some emotional space from one another. If you are living separately, then this is easier. If you are still under the same roof, you need to set boundaries such as sleeping in separate bedrooms, not discussing the relationship for a predetermined time, etc. You both want to let all of your emotions settle and get as clear-headed as you can about what you want going forward. Seeing a counselor separately is a good idea at this stage.
- Clarify what you love about the relationship. Why would it be worthwhile to start over in this relationship? What about this relationship helps you to be better as a person? What joy has this relationship brought to your life? What benefits are there to you, your partner, your family, and even your community in your starting over?
- Determine what went wrong. How did you get off track? What mitigating factors and circumstances led to the derailing of your relationship? What were the misunderstandings? Why did you stop spending time together? What mistakes did you make? Own them. What mistakes did they make? Pay close attention to what your partner says were their mistakes. If they don’t confess to making mistakes, you may be dealing with a narcissist; in which case, you may need to end the relationship and move on.
- Forgive each other. The only way to put the past in the past, even if you don’t stay in this relationship, is through forgiveness. All past grievances must be forgiven and left in the past. Your relationship won’t succeed unless you forgive each other, as often as it takes to leave the hurt and disappointment behind you.
- Draw support from friends. It is a mistake to involve family members for help in relationship issues. If possible, allow friends who know you both and have your best interests at heart to speak into your life. Ask them what they see that you need to change. Let them encourage you and pray for you.
- Get support from a counselor or relationship coach. A marriage counselor or a relationship coach can significantly benefit you if you decide to put time and energy into restarting your relationship. Besides their specialized training, counselors and coaches are people who have relationships, too, and therefore may have been through the same thing that you and your partner are experiencing.
- Get to know each other again. People change over time, and it may be that your partner is not the same person that you married. Outlooks and preferences change over time. Wants and needs evolve. Spend time courting and getting to know each other again.
- Find a way to communicate. Communication is the most valuable tool you can use to reset your relationship. It is essential to learn to listen to your partner and validate their thoughts and feelings. Validation does not mean agreement. When I validate you, I tell you that you have value and that your feelings and opinions matter, whether or not I share them. Be aware if you are into your emotions or your logic when you are speaking. Other blogs on this website go deeper into communication. Keep learning and growing in this area, and your relationship will flourish.
- Lower your walls. You may have put up barriers to protect yourself emotionally, but now they are isolating you and will prevent you from re-engaging with your partner. They don’t have to come down all at once, but they do have to come down. If they don’t, then your partner will tire of trying to climb over them to get to you. If you want a fulfilling relationship, you must become vulnerable and open to deeper interaction and connection.
- Learn how to compromise. If you don’t each give up something to solve whatever the issue is, you haven’t created a win-win. Instead, it is a win-lose situation, in which case you both lose!
- Express gratitude and kindness. Being thankful and expressing your thanks to your partner tethers your hearts together. Everyone wants to feel appreciated. And kindness is love in action. Words don’t matter. “I love you” is meaningless unless accompanied by loving actions. Those loving actions are kindness.
- Declare a honeymoon season. If you are not careful, many distractions will interfere with your efforts to rebuild your relationship. Now is the time to focus on each other and refresh your relationship. Clear your calendar of non-essential activities and appointments to spend more focused time with each other. If possible, take a vacation or even a couple of mini-vacations.
- Set some shared goals. If you had them, your old goals and dreams might no longer be viable. It is an excellent time to set new long–term and short–term goals. A short-term goal might be to take an annual vacation without kids. A long-term goal might be the purchase of a second home. You will both have something to look forward to and work toward as a couple.