Let me tell you about a man named Ross. When I met him he was elderly and totally unresponsive. The nurse at the nursing home told me that he was alive and if I looked very closely I could see that he was breathing. Not once had I ever heard his voice or saw him move. Sometimes they would have him in a wheel chair or would have him in a chair. Once a week I would go read to him and chat for a bit about weather, sports or whatever was on my mind.
What to do when it feels like your relationship is falling apart
I never knew what he would find interesting since he never spoke. One afternoon a nurse called me to let me know that Ross had passed away. I asked if the family needed any support. She told me one something that changed my life instantly. After a brief pause she let me know that his family had signed for his remains to be taken care of and none of them wanted anything to do with him. After some investigation I discovered that he had been abusive in many ways to his family. That explains why I am the one to get the phone call on his passing. Ross died alone with no one to care.
We are social beings. Too often those of us that are focused on personal and professional development can forget that fact. In our quest to become the best version of ourselves we often forget that we need others. Suddenly you wake up one day and you realize that you are alone. Eventually if you don’t make some adjustments you will end life like Ross, alone with no one to care. Below are some things that you can do to salvage your relationships.
Step 1.) Self Examination
Really we must take the time to consider our role in how things have deteriorated in our relationships. Too often we are angry and frustrated filled with blame toward others. But let’s get honest here. The only one that you can change is yourself. While you can advise and share insights about others; focus on yourself first. While there are many tools and ideas of ways that you can do this one of the strongest ways is to take the time to write up a personal constitution. In this write out all of the values that are non-negotiable for you under any circumstances. You must write these down or they will stay too soft and mushy. Writing them down makes them solid. Once you have a solid list take time each day to examine your choices, actions, attitudes and interactions. How are you doing? Get honest. Find out where you are weak and find ways to shore it up. Often times when I do this I discover for example that while I believe that I should “seek to understand and then to be understood” I often speak over people or fail to take time to really listen to them. By starting here you might discover that you need to go step 2.
Step 2.) Confession
Once you have done your introspection it is time to share your discoveries. Go to this person that you fear has “lost that lovin’ feeling”. Tell them where you have been weak. This takes immense courage. Strange things often happen at this step. I know a man who confessed to his wife that he felt like he was simply failing as a husband. She began to cry and then shared that she felt she was not as pretty and of as high quality as the women he worked around every day. The confession cleared the air and the two of them worked to restore their relationship from there. This only works if you are being totally honest and you are confessing because you want healing in your relationship. Confession simply because you know that you have been caught doing wrong will only come across as insincere. Do what you can to be totally honest and transparent in your confession and let the healing begin.
Step 3.) Get back to the basics
You saw something in each other that brought you together in the first place. What was that thing? Maybe it was the fact that you could have fun together. If so go do that. Maybe you had great conversations, find a way to get back to that. Most couples have something that made them desire to be together. Find that one thing and make it a focus of your thoughts and activities. The feelings may not be there since hurts often make us numb so at first this might be forced. But if you have already begun with the first two steps you have cleared the airways and have given this relationship some air.
Step 4.) Take Action
In serious medical situations if the EMTs can get air to the patient they are usually happy but they know that their job is not done. They must take further actions to save the life or the limb. What are the actions that you must take? This should come out of the first three steps. Does it bother your partner that you leave the toilet seat up? Don’t just dismiss it. If this relationship matters to you; then put the seat down. Does he want you to dress up for dinner or work fewer hours? Take the actions that will bring life to the relationship. Often times the people we care about most seem unreasonable, don’t worry about it. Love them anyway.
Step 5.) Review results and adjust as needed
Are you getting the results that you are wanting? Do you see that little bit of life and joy come into your partner’s eyes like they used to? Regardless go back up to step 1 and begin the process again. Relationships like all of your personal goals take revision and experimentation to get them just right.
Like all personal goals this is a process. If you are at the stage where you feel that your relationship is falling apart it is likely that this did not happen overnight. You cannot expect to fix it overnight. Dedicate yourself to the process of restoration. Knowing that this is tough I keep a picture in my mind of Ross laying there on his bed. Shortly after Ross passed away I attended the funeral for a mother of five grown sons. She lived a great life and they all wanted to speak at her funeral. They had to use a very large church to accommodate all of those who wanted to pay their last respects. All around me sat people who whispered agreement and added to the kind words being spoken. Pictures and video played across the screen recounting the life she has shared with so many people. There is no reason for you to be alone. Dedicate yourself to the process.