One of the biggest reasons monogamous relationships fail—those where no one’s been cheating or abusive—is because partners stop seeing the person they fell in love with.
By that I mean instead of seeing and experiencing the qualities you did when you first got to know your partner, over time your perceptions of who they are become clouded by your resentments, blame, and failed expectations.
It seems to me that it’s these negative ideas rather than anything else that create the rifts in relationships and makes it look like the attraction to that person that was once strong, is gone.
It’s probably not your partner’s fault.
In fact, she’s unlikely to have changed massively since the day you met. It’s not that she’s necessarily pissed you off, it’s more to do with the fact you’re feeling let down, because she’s failed to live up to your expectations and rules about how things should be.
So if you’re looking to save a relationship that’s on the rocks what can you do?
The answer’s simple…unconditionally accept your partner and drop any desire for them to change.
If you could do this your experience of them would be very different, and you’d have a much better idea if this was the person you really wanted to be with.
But most people don’t.
Is it her job to make you happy?
We often think it’s our partners job to make us happy, so we go about all kinds of ways to try to change our partners, so that they live up to our rules and expectations.
However, this is manipulative, controlling, and proves that most people are more concerned with their own happiness than their partners. This is fine, but if you want a truly amazingly, healthy relationship, you need to take responsibility for your own happiness.
The more you make them responsible, the more disappointed and disconnected you’ll become.
When you first met, the romance happened spontaneously. You totally accepted each other as you are, it’s when you start to judge and expect them to be a certain way, you become unhappy.
It can seem natural to blame her for your feelings of discontent but it’s not their fault. I’m not saying there won’t be times when your partner behaves in ways you don’t like.
But it’s why partners are often used as the scapegoat for everything we don’t like and therefore get the blame for the unhappiness in our lives, which we’ve probably carried for years before we ever met them.
So the first step is to take responsibility for your own happiness, until you learn to love and accept yourself, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to see someone else judgement free.
Whether you’re in a relationship or not, you always have someone to love—yourself. I don’t mean in a narcissistic way, I mean simply being kind, supportive, and encouraging to yourself. Valuing your worth and making choices that honor you.
It’s not something most men talk about, and personally I’ve not always found this easy. It’s taken work but I think it’s mission critical in life and in relationships, because unless you do, you’ll always make love conditional and continue to be disappointed when your partner fails to live up to your expectations or make the changes you think they should.
If that’s you, you’ll never be content.
All the time you’re wanting someone to change, you’ll push them so far away they might never come back, which is a shame when the discontent is created because you’ve decided that circumstances or the person need to be different.
A healthy relationship is about encouraging one another to be yourselves, not expecting them to live up to your ideas of who they should be.
How to save a struggling relationship
So my advice is first: don’t make any decisions about whether to stay or go when you’re feeling pissed off with your partner. I wouldn’t suggest the wisest decisions in life occur when you’re feeling angry.
If you walk out when you’re pissed, you may regret your decision further down the line because anger could obstruct your real feelings, which you may not appreciate until it’s too late.
Second—if you both want to work things out, you’ll need to be willing to stop blaming each other for the unwanted feelings you have and accept that the problems you’re experiencing may not be due to the relationship being wrong.
Until you do, there’ll be no understanding and you’ll continue to feel let down. It will look like there’s no other solution but to end it.
So instead of looking for what’s wrong, make the intention to start appreciating one another more. Notice the simple things that are already good, that make your lives together easier.
If you keep focusing on what’s wrong about your partner, you have no chance.
Finally, take responsibility for creating your own happiness. You don’t need a woman to be happy, so stop expecting your partner to give you this.
Happiness is an inside job. It’s intrinsic, so look for this within yourself because until you recognise it, it’s likely you’ll continue to create the same pattern for whoever you’re with.
Photo: Chiara Cremaschi/Flickr
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This originally appeared on The Inspired Man.