What to Do When Your Relationship Gets Sick

how to solve relationship problemsImagine this scenario.

You wake up one morning feeling kind of crummy. You’ve got a slight fever, and your throat feels like sandpaper. Didn’t someone at the office have strep last week?

Crap.

You go to your doctor, fully expecting him to diagnose you with the strep throat. Because the throat-swab came back positive for Strep.

But he doesn’t. Instead, he tells you to take a cold shower for the fever, and he recommends mints to ease the pain in your throat.

Mints?! You need antibiotics for a bacterial infection like strep!

If that happened, your doctor would just be treating the symptoms without ever addressing the underlying cause. Crazy, right?

And yet, we do the same thing in relationships all the time.

When things are off in a relationship, it’s exhausting. You’ll feel drained and emotionally raw, like a romantic version of the strep. It sucks.

And it won’t get better if you just treat the symptoms.

Treating the symptoms of a “relationship bug” can take on many different forms. You might pamper yourself with a shopping splurge. Or respond to his frustrating behavior with some passive-aggressive jabs. Or even disconnect emotionally by avoiding real conversation and intimate moments.

The relationship will stay sick, and you’ll only feel marginally better. Rather than just treating the symptoms, why not deal with the disease?

I have three suggestions for getting over a relationship ailment.[i] If you’re feeling fatigued in your current romance, the cure is likely in one of these three places.

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Restore the Closeness with Repair Attempts

Restore the Closeness with Repair Attempts - repair your relationshipYou’re hanging out with someone you really care about when it happens…

You say the wrong thing.

He goes silent. His jaw tightens. Tension floods the room.

You’re desperately trying to think of a way to take it back when he stands up. “I gotta go. Catch you later.”

He’s gone without a goodbye kiss.

You’re alone, ashamed and angry at yourself. Why did you do that? Just when it was going so well?

It can happen to anyone. Even if you make a point of being the kindest, most thoughtful person on the planet, you can still end up upsetting the man you want to be with.

The words you said meant one thing to you but something completely different to him. Instead of asking you to clarify, he took it the wrong way. His feelings were hurt, you had no idea what you did to cause it, and it’s all a big mess.

This happens in all kinds of relationships, from romantic relationships to professional ones. So, it pays to take a closer look at what we can do when we upset each other.  Let’s talk about how to feel close again.

The Dance of Intimacy

The perfect relationship should be a harmonious dance. He puts his hand around your waist, you gaze into his eyes, and you swirl around the dance floor with sweet music guiding your steps.

A wonderful fantasy, but nowhere close to reality.

The reality of relationships isn’t easy to watch. You move together in step for a short while, then break away. The music comes in snatches, and you’re not always hearing the same rhythm. It’s easier to step back, because moving as one is too much work.

What do you do when you find yourselves on opposite sides of the dance floor? How do you find your lost rhythm and restore the closeness?

The answer is what psychologists call repair attempts.

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Three Ways “Fun Theory” Can Help Your Relationship Thrive

Three Ways "Fun Theory" Can Help Your Relationship ThriveHave you ever tried to get excited about something you didn’t really want to do?

A friend of mine is a runner. Recently I admitted I simply don’t like running enough to tackle the long distances she does, and what she said floored me.

She said she doesn’t like to run, either. But she knows it’s good for her, so she finds ways to make it fun.

For her, that means listening to music, staying connected with other runners, and going absolutely nuts buying running apparel.

The folks at Volkswagen think along the same lines. They launched a program called “Fun Theory.” Fun Theory is the idea that “something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behavior for the better.”[i]

In one of their experiments, they painted a set of stairs to look like piano keys. The stairs were directly adjacent to an escalator, but they wanted to see if more people would opt for the stairs if the stairs looked more fun.

Guess what? It worked![ii]

Below you’ll find three times when you can use the same strategy in your relationship. You can help your relationship thrive if you can turn the work of maintaining your relationship easier just by injecting some fun.

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Introducing “The Butterfly Method” to Survive the Storms in Your Relationship

how to have a successful relationshipPeople will judge you for trying hard.

I did it just the other day. I was standing in line at Walmart. The line was moving slow, and I couldn’t help but notice something.

Walmart had invested in 30 cash registers, yet only two of them were open.

I snickered at how stupid Walmart is. Then I remembered something.

I’m standing in line because they accomplished something difficult. They managed to give me the best price in town. And still make a profit.

Maybe they’re not so stupid.

Maybe having only two cash registers open helps them keep prices down.

They try hard. I have to admire that.

But a lot of “cool people” snicker at those of us who try hard. Giving up and being pessimistic is cool to these people.

Sorry, but that’s not my definition of cool.

Cool is trying hard even if you might fall on your face. Cool is trying again even after you’ve failed several times before.

Cool is the boyfriend who still holds doors open, tells his girlfriend she’s beautiful, and offers to carry things for her while showing respect. Those are real men. They try hard.

Don’t be afraid to try hard. You’ll attract the kind qualities you build up in yourself.

If you want a man who will try hard, someone who will overcome obstacles in the relationship so he can keep loving you, then look for this one quality: Rejection of cynicism.

Someone who’s not afraid to openly talk about what he wants. Someone who’s not too cool to try. Not too cool to admit some things are worth caring about.

But should you always try hard? Continue reading