How to Fix Your Relationship

Timing is everything.

We need to get super honest here because far too often, it’s way too late. I’ve joked for years that folks seem to flip a coin; heads we call a couples counselor and tails we call either a moving company or a lawyer. My first and best advice – don’t wait to address problems, unmet needs, or even pet peeves. Sweeping things under the rug creates a mole hill, and you know what we do with those…

Relationships are work under the best of circumstances. You’ve already hit the wall and if it wasn’t a huge mess then you wouldn’t be talking to me. Make a decision about how hard you’re willing to work at this. Just like everything else in life, half measures avail us nothing.

Stop the dumb shit.

The easiest things to understand are the hardest ones to do. We know better than to be petty, passive aggressive, or insensitive and we do it anyway. We choose these approaches subconsciously, seeking a specific response instead of simply asking for what we want or need. I say do what you will, but do it on f@cking purpose. Make your words and actions toward your partner deliberate, not strategic.

Open up.

We try to make our partners feel the way we think they’ve made us feel. Believing that anyone can make us feel something is a product of emotional immaturity. Everything we can’t or (more often) won’t speak usually surfaces in manipulative behavior.

Vulnerability simplifies everything and creates a plethora of possibilities. I’m convinced that 90% of all bullshit in a relationship would disappear if we could simply say:

– I’m feeling…
– What I want is…
– What I need from you is to…

Write out the wrongs.

You know the resentments (pain and anger from the past) you’re holding on to. I encourage you both to write that shit out on paper. Take a long hard look at it and at yourselves. Are there things there that you cannot forgive? If that’s the case then face facts – it’s never going to be what you want it to be and I urge you not to settle.

Sad to say, but sometimes the only reason we stay is because we’re afraid to leave.

If there’s nothing you can’t forgive, share your lists with each other. The key here is to not freak out, become outraged, or shame each other for the way you feel. Are you willing to work this shit out? Are you willing to share what you need from your partner to help you let go? This is messy work but whatever you don’t resolve you get to carry with you. FYI – that shit is toxic. It not only creates distance between the two of you; it slowly burns a hole in both your G.I. system and your soul.

Moving from Codependent to Interdependent

“Codependent” and “dysfunctional” are so overused they really don’t have meaning anymore. There are two goals I propose:

– Increasing our ability to depend on and fully trust ourselves. The inability to do both of these fully undermines our ability to relate to others in a healthy fashion. All this requires is rigorous honesty with ourselves. Journaling and monitoring our self talk will help.

– Interdependence is the idea is that two independent people come to rely on each other. If we examine our dependency, we often find that the things we seek from others are the things we deny ourselves (candor, affirmation, praise, validation, and other expressions of respect and love).

Who else ya got?

One of the biggest and most common mistakes I see couples make is trying to be each other’s world. Hollywood would have us believe that all we need for happily ever after is the perfect partner. No pressure there.

The importance of a kick ass support system cannot be overstated. If you don’t have friends, family, kin, and others who support, encourage, sustain and hold you accountable, then let’s just accept that this is an unhealthy expectation of your partner and yourself.

We’re people who need people. Make sure you have all you need and make sure you use them in support of all your goals.

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.