A relationship is like a car — it is in need of constant care and maintenance. In the absence of these, it will run down. Unfortunately, sometimes no sooner than the honeymoon period is over, couples struggle to keep their one-time high alive. But if all you feel is that you're headed for heartbreak, relationship counsellor Wayne Powell said that all it takes is a small spark and plenty of love and determination to feed it into a roaring blaze.
Acknowledge that the flame is low or is extinguished
It might be painful to admit, but the sooner you stare the truth in the face and accept that it's headed into an unhealthy place, the sooner you can get a grasp of what is happening so that you can get started on fixing it. At this time you want to take the time to remember the things you love about your partner, what attracted you to them, and what made you believe that you want to spend the rest of the life with them. At this time you also want to re-examine the relationship and how the blaze lost its roar.
Take personal responsibility for your role in the demise of the relationship
Now is the time to take action. If the relationship is going to work then both parties will need to carefully evaluate how their actions or non-actions may be causing the relationship to fail. Crucial at this stage is that you understand that you had a role in the demise of the relationship even if you think what you did or have been doing is not a big a deal. Having accepted responsibility for your role in your failing relationship, think about how you can make it better. Ask your partner for suggestions or work to arrive at a compromise so that you do not stumble over the problem again.
Apologise for the destructive things said or done
A sign of respect is knowing where you have erred, acknowledging that you have, and making it clear to your partner that you recognise this, that you see where it could have been hurtful, demeaning, and could have undermined your relationship, and that you are sorry that you did it. Make it clear that you see where it was damaging and that you deeply regret your actions and that you will make every effort to respect their values as well as that of the relationship.
Have a conversation about the way forward, including the disposal of historical “baggage”
Baggage can have a major weight on relationships — it has the potential to stymie the growth. A part of disposing of baggage is forgiveness. You must realise that if you are going to move forward together, you have to also be genuine in your acceptance of your partner's apology. Going back to the past over and over will lead you back to a fireless place.
Make a concerted effort to stay committed to the action plan
You have to decide that you are serious about moving forward — about wanting your relationship to not just work but to flourish. Now set your plan in motion on how you want to achieve it. For example, you want to spend more time together and to do this, you will factor in a date night at least once every two weeks. It may be that you are promising to listen more keenly, communicate a little more, or even give more meaningful physical contact each day. Whatever it is that you discussed, you have to be ready to not just commit but stay true to the terms that you have committed to.
Be accountable to each other and avoid distractions
As a team, you are accountable to each other. That means that you are answerable to each other. It also means that you will not take offence to your partner questioning your failure to act on a commitment. Also, you will do your very best to avoid getting involved in things that serve as a distraction in your relationship.