January 3, 2022 |Gideon

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In this article, we look at relationship advice when things get tough and eight things you should consider when facing difficult times.

Understand that there are many things that can challenge a relationship, and there’s also no way of knowing what the future holds, but there are a few things you should consider that can help protect your relationship when things get tough.

The Reality of Relationships and Difficult Times

The truth about relationships and difficult times is that they are unavoidable.

No matter how strong a relationship is, there will always be times when it is put to the test.

That does not, however, mean that the relationship should be jeopardised.

When a relationship is going through a rough patch, one of the most important things you can do is reorder your priorities and make your relationship your priority, because chances are, neglect on your part has contributed to your current situation.

It’s critical that you focus on each other and don’t get caught up in things that may have distracted you up to this point.

There will always be times when you must put yourself and your feelings second, or even third, in order to keep the peace or restore things, and this could be one of those times.

The truth is that during difficult times, relationships can be extremely difficult and harsh.

Often, both parties involved feel as if they are constantly battling and struggling.

The reality is that it takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and patience to make a relationship work – especially when it’s going through a rough patch.

Unfortunately, many couples give up too easily and simply walk away from their relationships rather than putting forth the effort to make them work.

The good news is that you can and should work through your difficulties.

It may necessitate extra effort on your part, but it is not impossible.

This is where things like communication and compromise come into play.

You need to talk things out and figure out how to work through your problems, whatever they may be.

Relationship Advice When Things Get Tough

Of course, no one is in your shoes and can tell you how much more time and effort you should put into your relationship or when it’s time to move on.

Yes, when things get tough, you should seek out and consider good relationship advice to see if you can work things out, but it’s also a matter of common sense and wisdom to know when to commit yourself even more to your relationship and when to quit.

However, there is also the question of whether difficult times can bring you closer as a couple, which, in that sense, makes difficult times in a relationship not necessarily a bad thing but a potential ally.

I’m sure if a couple knew that tough times aren’t all bad but can potentially strengthen their relationship, they’d be more open-minded and receptive to the idea of relationship advice when things get tough.

So the question is, does it?

Do difficult times really bring you closer together as a couple?

Do Difficulties Really Bring You Closer As a Couple?

As a psychology student and a husband of nearly 16 years, I can unequivocally state that adversity can bring couples closer together.

In fact, in a recent post on the four stages of a relationship, we discussed how, at some point, all couples will (must) face a crisis in their relationship that serves as a proverbial crossroads – a kind of make or break situation.

If they pass the “test,” they will be stronger for it and potentially set their relationship up for long-term happiness, if not lifelong happiness.

If they “fail,” however, those relationships that find themselves in that situation quickly begin to dwindle and disintegrate without ever reaching the deeper levels of attachment required to create the type of relationship that provides the couple with the necessary need fulfilment and satisfaction to make it last.

As a result, when faced with difficulties, couples must collaborate to overcome them.

This can provide an opportunity for the couple to strengthen their bond and feel closer to one another.

However, while difficult times can bring couples closer together, it is also important to remember that they are not always easy.

There will be times when you will have to work hard to maintain your relationship, which can be difficult when you are not feeling particularly optimistic about the relationship or are openly hostile towards your partner.

If you are feeling this way, it is critical that you take some time for yourself to figure out why you are feeling this way and what you can do to address the problem.

It may even be beneficial to speak with a therapist to help you work through your feelings because if you are unable to address the issue(s) at hand, the relationship is unlikely to survive.

Relationship Advice When Things Get Tough

The thing is, we cannot see our relationships through our partners’ eyes, so we may see things differently from time to time.

That means there will be times when we see something that seems insignificant or silly to our partner but is the end of the world to us.

That is when and where communication becomes critical.

The way you and your partner communicate is critical to the success of your relationship because if you are able to talk through your differences and work together to see things from each other’s point of view, you may be able to successfully address the issues in your relationship.

Only then will adversity bring you closer together as a couple.

When Things Get Tough in Your Relationship, Here Are 8 Things to Think About

If you’re looking for relationship advice when things get tough, here are eight things to think about.

First, take a step back and try to figure out what’s going on.

Next, communicate with your partner.

Then, try to find a middle ground.

After that, take some time for yourself.

Fifth, be understanding and patient.

Sixth, don’t give up.

Seventh, be positive.

Eighth, start dating again.

Take a step back and figure out what’s going on

Let’s first unpack what it means to take a step back and try to understand what’s going on.

When it comes to relationships, it’s important to take a step back and try to understand what’s going on before acting.

This is especially true if you’re feeling like things are going downhill.

By taking a step back, you can gain a better understanding of the situation and determine what, if anything, you can do to improve things.

If things are really bad, it may be time to call it quits.

However, by attempting to comprehend things first, you will have all of the puzzle pieces to work with.

In the world of personal development, there’s an old adage that goes, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.”

That is, without awareness of the truth of the situation and the willingness to accept that truth, it is impossible to take the actions necessary to achieve the desired outcome.

That is true in almost every aspect of life, both personal and professional, whether it is business or marriage.

Relationship Advice When Things Get Tough

When things get tough in your relationship, the first thing you should think about is, “Do I actually know what’s going on?”

Before you can jump in and start “fixing things,” you must first take a step back and try to understand what is going on.

This entails gaining a better understanding of your partner’s point of view as well as evaluating your own position and its legitimacy or contribution to the situation.

Communicate with empathy

Second, when going through a rough patch in a relationship, it’s critical to communicate openly, honestly, and most importantly, empathically.

Communication is essential when couples are going through a difficult time.

If they can communicate empathically, they will be able to openly discuss their feelings and thoughts, work through the issues at hand, and reach a resolution.

If they are unable to communicate empathically, the situation is likely to worsen, and the couple may eventually divorce.

A healthy relationship necessitates empathic communication.

When a couple communicates with empathy, both parties are able to freely and openly share their thoughts and feelings, without judgement or resentment.

It means they can listen to each other without interruption and can compromise to find a solution that works for both of them.

Now, it’s crucial to remember that communication is a skill that, like any other, improves with practice.

It takes time and practice to become proficient at it.

Here’s a post about how to improve your communication as a couple.

Willingness to compromise

When facing difficult times, another piece of relationship advice is to compromise.

It will be extremely difficult to face and overcome difficult times together if you are unwilling to compromise, even if you are aware of what is going on and are communicating about it.

To move forwards, you must be willing to make some sacrifices.

There will be times when both parties do not see eye to eye.

However, during these times, it is critical for couples to learn how to compromise in order to get through difficult times and maintain a healthy relationship.

More specifically, when faced with difficult times, compromising allows couples to find common ground and move forwards together, giving them the opportunity to get through it as an even stronger unit.

It also teaches them how to communicate and work through disagreements during a crisis.

Compromise isn’t always easy, but it’s worth it in the end because you end up gaining your partner’s trust despite having to shift your position.

Taking time for yourself

When you’re going through a rough patch as a couple, it’s also important to take care of yourself.

When we are in a difficult situation, it can be difficult to see the forest for the trees, making the situation seem even worse than it is.

Taking time for yourself and taking care of yourself may help you deal with a difficult situation better.

Relationship Advice When Things Get Tough

When you take care of yourself, you are more likely to have the energy and resources to deal with the situation.

You are also more likely to be in a better frame of mind to make sound decisions.

Also, taking care of yourself when things get tough will help you maintain a healthy relationship with your partner and handle difficult times as a couple.

At a bare minimum, some of the best and simplest ways to take care of yourself when things get tough are to eat healthy foods, exercise, and get enough sleep.

When things get tough, take care of yourself first, and you’ll be able to take care of your relationship later.

Be understanding and patient

Another thing to keep in mind when things get tough as a couple is to be understanding and patient.

It’s important to be understanding and patient during these times because it can help to strengthen your bond with your partner since being understanding and patient when things are tough shows that you care about your partner and are willing to work through the challenges together.

This can help to build or maintain a strong foundation for your relationship when it is most needed.

The ability to be understanding and patient during difficult times can also aid in your ability to communicate more effectively with your partner.

And, as we’ve seen, better communication with your partner during times of stress will only serve to strengthen the relationship.

Don’t just give up

When a couple is going through a rough patch, there is always the temptation to give up or throw in the towel.

However, while this is a natural reaction to adversity, it is not always the best course of action.

Yes, as the old Serenity prayer goes, “Lord, give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference,” sometimes we need to know when to give up.

However, we must also muster the courage to make changes when we do not feel like it.

Relationship Advice When Things Get Tough

Giving up may appear to be the easier option at times, but it is not always the best option, even if it appears to be.

In most cases, doing the right thing is more difficult, but the rewards can be much greater.

And that is where the key lies: knowing what the best course of action is and then acting on it.

It’s especially important to persevere and stick together during difficult times.

When you face difficult challenges together, you’ll develop a stronger bond and be better prepared to handle whatever comes your way.

You will be able to overcome anything as a couple if you can stick together through the difficult times.

Be positive

However, perseverance frequently necessitates a positive mindset, which can be difficult to cultivate or sustain during difficult times as a couple.

But being positive entails more than just being optimistic.

While optimism is a component, positive psychology addresses more than just the absence of a negative mindset.

It also has to do with being more resilient, having a growth mindset, maintaining a positive attitude, viewing problems as opportunities, and focusing on one’s strengths.

With the right strategies, you can use the five factors that comprise a growth mindset to improve your relationships and boost your well-being.

You are more likely to persevere in the face of adversity if you adopt a growth mindset.

A growth mindset is defined by five factors:

  • belief in the power of effort,
  • belief in the power of learning,
  • focus on process rather than outcome,
  • belief in the malleability of intelligence, and
  • a proclivity to embrace challenges.

However, if you believe your abilities are fixed and unchangeable, you will become discouraged and frustrated when confronted with obstacles.

According to some experts, when people adopt a fixed mindset, they have lower emotional awareness and empathy for others, which has a negative impact on their relationships.

That, of course, is the polar opposite of what we want as a couple when things get tough.

In contrast, when you adopt a growth mindset, you learn to become more perceptive and aware of the feelings of others, which aligns with what we said earlier about awareness and compromise.

“Date” again

When things get tough, the last thing to consider is to start “dating again.”

That is, you as a couple should begin to adopt habits and reengage in behaviours that will allow you to reconnect emotionally again.

When couples go through difficult times, one of the first things that happen is that they drift apart, especially if the conflict becomes too much, too frequent, and too heated.

As a result, they leave.

Self-preservation is a natural reaction to a crisis, but it will not help your relationship survive, let alone thrive.

No, when faced with adversity, it is critical for couples to connect emotionally.

This can help them to support and comfort one another, as well as cope better with the challenges they face.

Couples who are emotionally connected can better understand each other’s feelings and needs and provide each other with the support they need to get through difficult times.

Relationship Advice When Things Get Tough

So, here are a few things you can do to reconnect emotionally with your partner…

Empathy should be practised.

When one of you is having a difficult time and feels alone or misunderstood, try to put yourself in your partner’s shoes.

Determine why he or she is feeling this way and what his or her needs are.

Then try to meet those needs by reaching out to them.

Don’t ignore their requests for space or try to talk them out of feeling the way they do.

Instead, show them compassion and empathy.

This will help you connect more effectively.

Share your emotions.

Although it may be difficult, try to express your feelings about the situation with your partner.

Share your worries, anxieties, or frustrations.

This can help them better understand you and form a stronger bond with you.

Pay attention to one another.

When one of you is speaking, try to listen without judgement.

This entails turning off all distractions, such as the television or your phone, and paying attention to what your partner is saying.

Most importantly, begin spending time together in ways that you both enjoy.

When a couple is in a crisis, one of the things that happen is that they drift apart, which is exacerbated by spending time alone doing their own thing.

As we’ve seen, taking care of yourself is critical, but reconnecting as a couple is equally (if not more) important if you want to survive the tough times.

So, even if you don’t feel like doing much together, go for a walk or rent a movie and cuddle up on the couch.

The most important thing is to spend time together in a manner that reestablished a deepening connection with each other.

Here’s a post I wrote a while back that could be helpful.

Key Take Away

The main takeaway from going through difficult times as a couple is that you need to be there for each other.

You must support each other and be willing to work through difficult times together.

The most difficult aspect of going through difficult times is not knowing how long they will last or what impact they will have.

We simply have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

And, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by everything that’s going on, remember that you’re not alone and that you can ask for help.

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

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About the author


Gideon is the creator of TheRelationshipGuy.com, a popular relationship blog that ranks among the top 50 relationship blogs in 2024. The website helps couples to create happier, healthier, and more intimate relationships. Gideon is a trained professional counsellor and holds post-graduate degrees in Theology and Psychology. His articles have also been featured on respected platforms such as Marriage.com and The Good Men Project.

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