August 2, 2017 |Gideon

 

How to Stay Motivated to Keep Going When Facing Relationship Challenges

“The quality of your life is the quality of where you live emotionally” –Tony Robbins

Estimated reading time: 11 minutes

Intro

People are essentially emotional beings.

We make decisions based on how we feel and then, justify, rationalise, excuse, or explain with logic.

And no area in our lives is exempt from this, most of all our relationships.

In order to stay motivated to keep working on our relationship with our partner, we need to understand that it’s all an emotional game.

When we harbour negative feelings for whatever reasons, our behaviour within that relationship will follow suit.

Conversely, when we experience positive feelings towards our partner, our actions also mirror that.

The goal, therefore, is to first and foremost understand how we create certain feelings or emotions. And yes, we do create what we feel most of the time.

Emotions are a product of our mind and nervous system.

We can literally shift from one emotion to another by changing something within our mind or triggering our nervous system in a different way.

For example, have you ever had a disagreement with your partner that made you really angry? And you reeeeaaaally felt and showed it!?

But then you had a phone call from a very good friend and instantly you shifted from anger to genuine joy (or even playfulness) almost instantly after answering the phone and hearing who it was on the other end.

How is that possible?

It’s possible because our emotions are a product of our mind and nervous system, and both can be altered fairly quickly under the right circumstances.

This is extremely important to understand if you want to stay motivated to keep going when facing relationship challenges with your partner.

The emotional filter through which you approach any of the challenges you are facing will radically alter how you behave and respond in your relationship.

If you want to get through your challenges in order to move forward in your relationship, you need to learn how to remain motivated through “manipulating” your emotional state.

Now, it doesn’t matter whether you’re struggling with a new relationship or an older one, it always helps to know how to “find” the motivation to keep going.

I appreciate that it’s not always easy to see or even feel your love for each other when you’re experiencing serious challenges, but you need to understand that much of this is simply an emotional state, which can be altered.

In this short article, we’re not going to explore all the different ways you can change an emotional state rapidly, but we will look at one of the important elements of shifting your state, namely: FOCUS.

When you can learn how to shift your focus from one thing to another, especially in the heat of the moment, you will develop the ability to also rapidly shift your emotional state.

Why is that important?

It’s important because it gives you more options in terms of responding to your partner, especially when working through a particularly sticky situation or issue.

The person that can “stay calm” and think clearly while midst a conflict with their spouse, will have a much better chance of staying in control while working through the challenge at hand.

So, how can FOCUS help you stay motivated to keep going when facing relationship challenges?

Well, the first thing FOCUS does is give you a better perspective.

And an important perspective to hold on to is the fact that no matter how big your challenges might seem, a healthy, fulfilling relationship is always worth fighting and striving for. 

I always say to people that arguing isn’t the problem, even though it’s not necessarily helpful, but a much bigger problem is when people stop arguing altogether.

When they reach the stage of caring so little about the relationship they trying to save, it is all but over.

As long as you have fight left in you, there is a chance to save your relationship.

Once you lose that, you might want to consider facing the possibility that it’s time to move on.

Let’s, therefore, look at a couple of strategies to keep you motivated to keep going when facing relationship challenges with your partner.

They all have to do with redirecting or shifting your FOCUS from what is (mostly driven by emotion) to all that is (seated in facts).

You have to remember that when we feel vulnerable or hurt, we tend to radically “shrink” our perspective of reality, which leads to forgetting some of the really good stuff we’ve got going on also, in spite of the bad stuff.

It’s not about ignoring the bad, but more about acknowledging the good also.

Shifting your focus to some of the positive things will help you deal with the reality of the negative.

Please note that these are not set in concrete and also not the only strategies out there, but they are a good start.

Strategies to keep yourself motivated through challenging times with your partner:

Figure out your “why.” 

Why are you with your partner?

Why are you still together and hanging on?

Every relationship has an answer to this question.

It’s crucial that you figure out your why and focus on it.

You may be together because you started off as close friends because you’re deeply in love and have passion, or because of children or other obligations.

Whatever the reason might be, it’s extremely important for you to figure out your “why” because it gives you a purposeful being in the relationship and working through the challenging stuff.

Figuring out your “why” is also important because it will help you rekindle your romance and figure out unique ways to overcome your challenges.

If, however, you realise that you have lost your “why” then it becomes your to-do.

Before you do anything else, until you can figure out the reason why you are still in this relationship, and it better be a very compelling one, you might find your motivation to keep going when facing challenges weaning over time.

Having a “why”gives you the feel you need to keep going when it’s needed most because you know deep down the relationship is far more important than the current temporary challenges.

Remember the past.

Sometimes it helps to look back on the past and see why you fell in love in the first place.

Look, it is absolutely normal that your relationship will change over time as you evolve. That’s part of life and part of being human. We evolve and we grow.

However, remembering the past will help you figure out if it’s worth staying together.

You may be able to go back and restore some of the initial emotions.

Remembering the past can help motivate you to keep going in the present.

Now, by no means am I suggesting that you live in the past because that would be called “denial in the present.”

What I’m suggesting is tapping into past positive memories to use as fuel to create more present positive memories.

Again, when we are stuck focusing on the negative it is difficult to come up with any reasons to stay in the relationship.

Oftentimes we need to go back to the past to remember the person we fell in love with, as well as remember who the person was your partner fell in love with.

Going back into the past and tapping into the good stuff is not just about your partner, but also about remembering your true self.

Because it is true that we all change over time, and oftentimes our partner’s actions in the present is merely a reflection or reaction to the person you’ve become.

Again, this is also not about feeling bad or blaming anyone for changing.

This is about having an awareness that relationships evolve and people change. And because that is true we need to keep some of the past positive memories alive to serve our relationship now.

I’ve seen couples make rapid turnarounds in their relationships by doing this.

By simply remembering why they fell in love years ago and making an effort to rekindle some of those things they’ve allowed to gather some dust over time, so to speak; they managed to find a new level of connection, romance, and intimacy.

Maybe that could work for you too.

Seek a solution.

When you’re facing (i.e. focusing on) any difficulty, it’s easy to fall into despair and see the challenge(s) as impossible to overcome.

This is actually very easy to fall into.

But you can do something about it.

There is something about FOCUS you need to understand.

Anything you focus on will expand, including your challenges.

They might not expand in actuality, but they will in reality because they have your focus and attention.

Conversely, if you avoid viewing your relationship issues as impossible to solve, your mind will naturally start to search for solutions.

You may suddenly become aware of possible solutions EVERYWHERE around you.

You may discover answers in the strangers of places, like observing other happy couples, watching TV, or reading a certain book.

When we shift our focus to what we want rather than what we don’t want, it is incredible how things simply start appearing in our lives.

But it’s almost like we have to set the intention first before that happens.

Ultimately the key is to focus on finding a solution, rather than on how difficult and impossible the challenge is.

You have to remind yourself that every relationship has a starting point and a middle point.

You may be at the middle point with multiple challenges, but you can get past them and stay motivated to resolve your issues.

Stay connected to your partner.

One of the worst things you can do during a relationship struggle is to ignore your partner or become detached.

“Stonewalling” our partners is a very typical response to conflict in relationships. What this entails is ignoring your partner and/or withholding our love.

In the short run, this might feel like a good solution as it avoids arguments, but in actual fact, it only makes the issues worse and could destroy your love in the long run.

In fact, even if you need some space, which is fine and normal, pushing your partner completely out of the picture will hurt your relationship in the end. So avoid doing that.

Whether it’s a daily meal together or a conversation late at night, it’s crucial that you continue to communicate with each other.

Stay connected in some way or another.

Your efforts to stay connected may involve talking to your partner, getting outside advice from friends or family members, or getting couples counselling or relationship coaching.

It can also be something as small as making them a cuppa coffee in bed and leaving it at that. As long as there are continuous efforts to stay connected.

But whatever you do, avoid becoming detached completely because it creates a rift in the trust that is left between you.

Once that trust is broken completely it is very hard, if not impossible, to restore.

Once your partner feels you have abandoned them, it can be very hard to recover from.

Therefore make an effort to stay connected as much as you can, even when you don’t feel like it for the moment.

Find a reason to stay together. 

Sometimes you simply need a reason to keep your relationship going.

The reasons can include your children, pets, household, career, and other things that you have built together.

The reasons can also be more subtle, such as you love seeing your partner smile, enjoying the beach together, or you love the way they compliment your cooking.

Whatever the reason may be, make it the centre of your focus.

It doesn’t have to be a monumental or enormous reason.

It simply has to matter to you.

This will shift your focus enough from only thinking about your challenges to also thinking about the reasons why you’re together.

Listen, couples face challenges. All couples do. But your relationship doesn’t have to end because of challenges.

There is almost always a way to deal with the challenges you’re facing right now.

I can promise you that you haven’t tried every strategy under the sun or truly gave it your all yet; even when it feels like it.

So before you simply want to call it a day, let’s find a way to overcome the obstacles and restore your love first.

And these strategies can help if you apply them to your situation! They might not fix everything, but that will give you a good start.

I hope you give them a good shot at least.

If you have any comments or questions, please leave them below in the comments area.

Good luck.

About the author

Gideon

Gideon is the founder of TheRelationshipGuy.com, a top-50 relationship blog (2021) and top-100 marriage blog (2021) focused on providing healthy relationship advice about love and life. He earned a Master's degree in theological studies before training as a professional counsellor and hypnotherapist (DipProfCouns., DipMSHT.) almost 10 years ago. He is currently pursuing further graduate Psychology studies at Massey University while working as a relationship and dating blogger the majority of the time. He has been married to his wife for over fifteen years and is the father of two children.

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