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15 Ways to Rescue a Relationship on the Rocks

Every relationship goes through hard times. Many couples learn how to navigate through choppy waters and sail on toward a bright future together. Others, however, hit a rough spot and stay stuck, wondering if they’ve suffered irreparable damage.

For dating couples, this is the time to evaluate if the relationship has run its course and it’s best to part ways . . . or if the relationship has enough potential to do the hard work necessary to overcome difficulties. If you and your partner have encountered problems but want to make repairs, start here:

1. Make sure both of you are committed to the relationship rescue. It takes two fully invested individuals to turn things around.

2. Be the healthiest person you can be. Relationship problems often come because one or both partners struggle with emotional health issues. Attend to your own health even as you encourage your partner to do the same.

3. Clearly identify the issues. In times of adversity, circumstances can become clouded and confusing. Make sure you and your partner articulate the issues as each of you perceive them.

4. Don’t rush to resolution. Healing takes time, and with your future happiness at stake there’s no need to hurry the process.

5. Recognize what’s right. It might seem like everything about your relationship is wrong. It’s very likely there is also plenty right — or you wouldn’t have made it this far.

6. Own what is yours to own. Without personal responsibility on the part of each partner, little progress can be made.

7. State your needs. To improve your relationship, tell your partner precisely what you need from him/her moving forward.

8. Look back only if it helps you look forward. Dwelling on past mistakes and hurts won’t help to foster healing—unless issues need to be explored and discussed to make sure they’re not merely swept under the rug.

9. Express yourself without escalating the situation. You can fully communicate your thoughts and feelings without including threats, accusations, or putdowns.

10. Affirm that you both have the right to feel and think the way you do. No one is wrong simply because he or she has a different point of view.

11. Set aside the need to win. The goal should not be making one person out to be the winner and one the loser. In healthy relationships, both partners feel like winners.

12. Enlist the help of a counselor. Often, a neutral third party—one with training and experience—can provide valuable insights.

13. Talk about trust. In nearly every troubled relationship, trust has been broken. Discuss the ways in which you feel hurt, fully and honestly.

14. Then take steps to rebuild trust. Talk specifically about what each of you needs in order for trust to be re-established.

15. Practice forgiveness. Any rocky relationship is going to need a healthy dose of forgiveness by one or both partners.