I actually disagree that there is such a thing as a bad patch in a relationship. Every relationship is made up of individual moments, which are guided by how each person in the relationship is feeling at that particular moment. However, a lot of couples refer to a consistent spell of negative emotions in their relationship as a “bad patch”. There are several ways to become more conscious about these situations and ultimately decide how best to rectify them…
The main cause of bad emotions in a relationship:
The main catalyst for negative emotions in a relationship and what constitutes for 99% of those emotions is a feeling of inadequate validation from your partner, or to put it another way, not feeling loved enough!
Think back to all the times you have felt even the slightest bit of resentment towards your partner and I imagine you can make relate to the concept of not feeling loved or respected. Even seemingly trivial acts in a relationship can contribute towards this. Something inconsequential such as your partner not showing enough interest in something you’ve achieved, or your partner not taking the time to understand your point of view can incite these initial feelings of underlying resentment. Even a justifiable reason from your partner, such as being overwhelmed or busy, cannot counteract the stirring emotions.
Remember that this goes both ways. Make sure you’re never biased when trying to analyse a situation relevant to the above.
Think before you act:
The thing that distinguishes a discussion from an argument, even if both are on the exact same topic, is the level of negative emotion. This is almost always due to not allowing enough time for one’s emotions to settle and to rationalise respective viewpoints into a format that can be discussed.
The reason I argue so rarely with my girlfriend is because I always allow myself this time to think about my feelings, instead of blowing off and acting irrationally in the moment.
If a point needs to be said, then it needs to be said, but conveying your point through arguments and raised voices is extremely counter-productive. It makes both parties angry and less willing to actually take on board the points. Subsequent feelings of resentment are inevitable.
Talk it through:
Expanding on from the previous point, I do believe that disputes and negative emotions need to be discussed if that’s the way you prefer to deal with them. However, you want to do this once you are both in a calm and unoccupied state and your feelings have already been rationalised. A mutual desire to calmly discuss the issue is the first step to avoid accidently shifting back into argument mode.
You want to be especially careful to present your points as personal feelings without blame. The moment any kind of accusatory language appears is when the other half of the relationship starts to feel victimised and disrespected.
Don’t let little things get on your nerves:
I often mention about having standards in a relationship but I think we can all agree that this does not include the little, insignificant quirks and attributes your partner no doubt has. Embrace these things; they are what make your partner special and unique!
A well-known proverb is “familiarity breeds contempt” and you have to accept that the longer you spend in a relationship with someone – especially if you decide to live together – the more likely there are to be little things that annoy you.
Key differences between male and female psychology:
A lot of bad patches in relationships can be attributed to a communication breakdown. The truth is that many couples argue as if they are arguing with someone of the same gender and despite modern culture wanting males and females to be equal, gender research still highlights substantial differences between male and female psychology.
A book that delves into this aspect of psychology in a non-technical way is the best-selling relationship book, Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus by John Gray. Although this book is very mainstream and the majority of its content is not particularly groundbreaking, the section on how men and women communicate differently is brilliant.
I’d strongly recommend reading the book if the topic is of interest to you. The key points to take from it are that men communicate through logic and solutions whilst women communicate through emotions and empathy. These are obviously gross generalisations but I’ve found they are largely true for the many people I have met in my life.
Refresh the relationship:
If talking through your feelings with your partner has not improved a bad patch, then some other practical solutions will be required.
Relationships become stale and unfulfilling when they get stuck in a routine. I’m aware that with variables such as kids and demanding jobs, a routine is often a necessity, but if you want to rectify a relationship that is going sour, you have to refresh it in some way. Presumably it was fresh when it first started!
Try and frequently do new and exciting things that break away from the standard routine. These can be trips away or new hobbies. It doesn’t have to be anything expensive so use your imagination for ways you can achieve this.
Take unmonitored time out:
Time out is often a good thing but a lot people blow this concept out of proportion by making a statement out of it, or worse, using the dreaded words, “we’re on a break!”
You don’t need to proclaim that you are taking time out to revitalise yourself; you just need to do it! Be busy, fulfil your mind and the next time you see your partner, it is unlikely you will be in the same emotional state as before.
Reassess why you are together:
I’ve written before about how attractive of a mentality of abundance towards relationships is but the fact of the matter is that a lot of people are too scared to apply it.
If you are in a relationship then take a moment to look back at the key attributes that attracted you to one another in the first place. Now see if they still hold true. I believe that no person is worth compromising your values and desires for and I outlined this in the article Steps for finding the perfect partner.
I rarely advise couples to break up – it should be there decision alone – but if you’ve read through this article looking for solutions and haven’t discovered any that work for you, then perhaps it is time to reassess why you are in the relationship.
Remember that even the most ostensibly perfect relationships have hiccups and unpleasant moments. It is working through those moments and reducing how often they occur that leads to a consistently happy relationship. 🙂