Every relationship is made up of good and bad times – but when the fights start outweighing the fun and the disagreements don’t stop coming, it can lead you to wonder if the easiest thing to say would be ‘it’s over’.
According to love coach and co-author of The Inner Fix Persia Lawson, however, all is not always lost. We asked her for the phrases you can use to salvage a difficult situation with your partner, as well as her guidance for getting through the rough patches that we all inevitably face.
1. ‘How can I make this better?’
‘Much of the time in relationships, we’re so focused on getting our point across or getting our needs met that we don’t think to consider what our partner wants or needs (particularly when we’re in the midst of an argument),’ says Persia. ‘Asking a simple and direct question like this puts the ball in their court, and demonstrates that you care enough about them and the relationship to do whatever it takes to make it right – for them, not just yourself.’
2. ‘I appreciate you’
‘I think we’d probably all agree that it’s extremely easy to take our partners for granted in our day to day lives,’ she continues. ‘Whilst the words “I love you” are always nice to hear, let’s face it – they’re pretty generic and non-descript. However, saying the words “I appreciate you” – and then giving some specific examples of what exactly is appreciated (e.g. the fact your partner always makes an effort with your friends, or how they always pick up your favourite snack on the way home from work – or even their scrambled eggs!) – now, that’s a sure-fire way to make the person you’re with actually feel loved.’
3. ‘I was wrong’
‘If you’re anything like me, admitting you messed up (even if it’s indisputably clear that you did!) is not fun. Our pride can lead us to concoct all manner of reasons or excuses as to why we made an error – and that’s if we’re even willing to admit that we made a mistake in the first place. But, rather than getting overly defensive, playing the victim or projecting your guilt on to the other person to try and save face, why not just fess up and own your part in the situation – without following it with any justifications? This way, you create space for your partner to feel seen, heard and respected – and you also give them the opportunity to forgive you, too.’
How to survive a rough patch
‘Holocaust survivor Corrie Ten Boom once said that when a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer,’ Persia recalls.
‘I love this idea of having faith that all will work itself out – especially when we’re struggling in our relationship. I’ve also found the following concepts extremely effective in helping me overcome the difficult times.’
‘I believe that a relationship between two people is just a heightened reflection of the relationship each partner already has with themselves – which is why it’s so important we focus on loving, accepting and taking good care of ourselves above all else.
‘If you’re going through a rough patch, make sure you really prioritise all the basics – 8 hours sleep, lots of water, regular exercise, eat foods that nourish you and surround yourself with people that love and support you.
‘If you’re not taking good care of yourself, every single area of your life is bound to suffer – especially your relationship – and you’ll no doubt find yourself reaching for quick, superficial and unhealthy fixes to give yourself a boost (social media, food, booze etc).
‘I’m also a massive advocate of daily meditation and journaling as a way to process your emotions (you can access some free meditations on theinnerfix.com) – I promise that if you try meditating every day for just a week, you’ll feel significantly less anxious about your relationship and more trusting that everything will work itself out.’
Stop comparing and despairing
‘The average person checks their phone up to 110 times a day, and a lot of this time is spent scrolling through carefully curated social media feeds and images. With the bar set so high, many of us are left feeling extremely insecure, anxious and less-than about our realities – and this can be particularly painful when it comes to our love lives.
‘If we’re having a hard time in our relationship and at the same time comparing it to the illusory ‘perfect’ relationships everyone else seems to be having (according to their happy holiday snaps on Instagram) – this is only going to make us feel even worse.
‘For me, it’s crucial to remind myself – constantly – that what I’m being shown is one snapshot of a relationship – not the whole picture. Equally as important – I have to put strict boundaries around my social media use so that I’m not always at the mercy of the inevitable compare and despair syndrome.’
‘I aim to put my phone on flight mode at 7pm and don’t take it off again until 9am the next morning. I don’t always manage to stick to this, but when I do I feel so much less anxious and stressed – which is especially important when my partner and I are going through a rough patch.’
Detach with love
‘Sometimes, the best thing we can do when things aren’t working is to surrender our control over the people or situations that are causing us grief, and put the focus back on to ourselves and our life.
‘Many of us are accustomed to the concept of detachment – but often this can take the form of passive aggression, especially when it comes to our romantic life. But, the key to maintaining peace of mind at trying times is to endeavour to detach with a kind and loving attitude.
‘Let go; create the space for a solution to manifest of its own accord – it’s certainly easier than resisting, manipulating or obsessing!’