You and your partner have been through difficult times. Perhaps at one point you were on the verge of a break. But you hunkered down and made improvements to your relationship, and life suddenly got lighter and easier.
You likely enjoyed a period of time in which things seemed to be going better, you felt closer, and you could be more authentically yourselves with each other.
Then you went backwards, and it feels like you went back to square one.
You’re frustrated, defeated, angry, upset, and maybe even hopeless.
What do you do when you face relationship setbacks after having made progress?
First, recognize that setbacks happen all the time. It’s part of growth. Even the most successful stocks have bad days, yet continue to rise in the big picture.
Even though change is happening all the time, it’s something we as humans don’t like to embrace.
Change can be really difficult.
So sometimes we all take a step backward.
Keep your focus on the war you and your partner are fighting against your old ways of being together, and don’t lose sleep over the battles.
Second, acknowledge the progress that you have already made.
The path to the better place you recently were at is going to be a lot easier to arrive at than when you got there the first time.
I’ve seen this countless times with couples: They make amazing progress, reach each other in new ways, and a few weeks later are dismal and disconnected. This is simply how progress and change can go.
They feel hopeless like they’ll never be able to get it right. But we keep doing the work and before they know it they are back to where they were and beyond.
I can be confident they’ll get back there because I’ve seen it so many times, and I am confident that you’ll get there if you stay the course.
And thirdly, perhaps most importantly:
Remember that you want to be together.
Remember that your relationship is worth fighting for. When you’re not fighting and you are both in an okay mood, reassure each other that you really want to be back there, when things were better.
Commit to each other that your best relationship is your priority and let each other know your importance to each other.
Just knowing that you are important to your partner is likely to help a great deal. They need to know they are important too.
Start with the 3rd step and work your way backwards.
If any of this post applies to you, then congratulations.
It means you’ve taken two steps forward, and will hopefully keep going, with pauses and slight steps backward along the way.
Cheers to your best relationship, steps back and all,
I’m currently engaged to the person that I dreamed off. For the last 10 months she has been there for me through some extremely difficult times. Bottom line, I was selfish and kept on taking. She is emotionally drained and took a step back from the relationship. I made some progress, but seem to me that her tank is empty. She mentioned that I only made her upset 4 times in 10 months we’ve been together. I have done a lot of work to myself, so I can be the best person for her when that time comes. Is this a case of time will heal a shaky foundation or is this over? Male mind works against us all of the time and causes us to assume things. She has not said anything a long those lines, like this is over or can’t be fixed. She said she just needs space to get healthy because I have drained her emotionally. Will we be able to connect like we once did? I’m committed to making this work and she knows how much I value her. I made the mistake of allowing my selfishness and ego to get in the way of what really matters most. This will not happen again.
Jenev Caddell says
Thanks for your comment. I can’t predict the future or tell you what’s going to happen in your relationship – but it does sound like you are committed to making it work and you have let her know that. That’s awesome. One myth that I hear a lot is that “time heals” and it doesn’t always. So when rebuilding, I’d encourage you both to be open and honest with each other about the hurt that happened. You giving her the space she needs while remaining there for her and trying to understand and empathize with her pain will also help her and your relationship heal. I hope that helps and wish you all the best!
Me and my boyfriend have been dating for 2 years and 7 months, and we were recently at a place where we wanted to commit and promise that we would be engaged 2 years from now. Today, we had to have a step back and take away the promise so the marriage question is still up in the air. Both of us are completely committed and we both love each other to death still, but I’m still in a place after our talk to step back of completely broken and my heart feels like I want to be back in the time where we would talk about our future wedding and life together again.. do you think i’ll ever get that back eventually down the road?
Jenev Caddell says
Hi Maddy — I think you’ll be fine 🙂 Here’s more about that from me: