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Sex with Dr. Jess


September 16, 2019

How to Save an Ailing Relationship

Not all relationships are worth saving. And the measure of a relationship is not necessarily its longevity, but the quality and fulfillment experienced by all parties involved. 

Jess joined Carolyn and Jeff on Global TV ‘s The Morning Show to share her insights on how to start the conversation if you’re currently struggling in your relationship(s). Check out the three conversations to save an ailing relationship video and notes below.

1. Why?

  • Why do you want to work on this relationship?
  • Why do you value it?
  • Why do you care about me (what are the qualities you admire)?

This lays the foundation for a shared goal (improving the relationship as a team) and allows you to state your intention to invest in the relationship. If you are simply trying to resolve multiple issues without clearly highlighting the reason for doing so, it’s easy to lose sight of your goal: to work together for a more fulfilling relationship.

The same approach can be helpful when you find yourself arguing with a partner (or anyone else). Can you clarify why this issue is important to you and why you want to have this discussion? This can guide the conversation and improve understanding. It can also help to reduce arguments because you might realize that your why isn’t reasonable or that an issue may not be worth arguing about.

2. How?

How are you feeling? 

Oftentimes in arguments, we focus on winning or making a point and we don’t address the real issues — the feelings we’re experiencing and the feeling we crave.

Vulnerable emotions show up as anger — instead of admitting that we feel scared, nervous, insecure, unstable or emotionally taxed, we express anger.

Can you dig deeper to get at the fear that underpins your anger? Do you fear being abandoned? Do you fear being seen as weak? Do you fear being left behind? Expressions of vulnerability can save an ailing relationship by deepening intimacy and fostering understanding. They’re also disarming, so they can ease tension during a fight and turn an argument into a conversation.

Can you dig deeper to acknowledge the emotion you crave? Do you want to feel loved, valued, important, safe or nurtured? If you can’t use the words to express your emotional need, you cannot expect your partner to fulfill this emotional need. It’s also important to note that it’s your responsibility to cultivate these emotions as well — it cannot fall solely on your partner. Consider how you contribute to fulfilling or hindering your specific emotional needs.

3. What?

  • What do you want to change? (Is this expectation reasonable? Can you compromise on this?)
  • What are you willing to do to create this change?
  • What are you asking your partner to do?
  • What can we do right now? What are the steps or strategies we can plan for right now?
  • What excuses am I willing to ditch? (If you can’t answer this, you may not be willing to do the work required.)

Please begin with yourself. What can you do differently? You can make requests of your partner, but you cannot control their behavior, so you’ll see greater results if you begin by adjusting your own expectations.