Rough Patch in Your Relationship? How to Get Through It

WebMD Blog:

Rough Patch in Your Relationship? How to Get Through It

By Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD

Every relationship hits rough patches – those times when you can’t seem to ease tensions. You may work through issues as they arise, but this can leave you frazzled and more likely to overreact to new problems. One of the best ways to help yourself through these times is to make a conscious effort to focus on the positive.

Being positive with each other is like sharing the air hose to an oxygen tank while you walk through the polluted air of your current situation. Not only will the positives help you breathe easier, but acting as a team will also benefit your relationship.

Some ways of being positive to nurture your relationship are:

Reminisce: Talking about the “good old times” can bring couples together because it rekindles those happy, loving feelings. As you do this, talk about what is still good (or at least okay). Be careful not to fall into the trap of using positive memories from the past to highlight how your partner has become such an awful person. “I loved that time when you handpicked my favorite flowers by the side of the road” can be a wonderful memory to share. Don’t ruin it with “But you’ve become such a cold, distant person.”

Appreciate positive traits: Think about what traits you value in your partner. Pay attention to situations where you see those traits, and communicate these observations. For instance, you might tell your boyfriend how you loved watching him use his silliness to cheer up a child at the park. Be sure to share your feelings of appreciation.

Note attempts to nurture your relationship: Let your partner know when you see them trying to foster a happier relationship. You might notice him doing an random act of kindness, such as bringing you a container of your favorite ice cream. Or, maybe you see her cleaning up after herself in the kitchen after you’ve asked her to do this. Make a mental note that your partner cares enough about your relationship to be putting in this effort. Comment on these activities with an appreciation for what they are doing – foregoing negativity or sarcasm related to how it is about time.

Acknowledge your flaws or weaknesses:Think about what you bring to the relationship problems. Practice identifying this weakness in your interactions. Hopefully your partner will do this, too. If you are afraid to share because you fear your partner will use what you say against you, talk about this. By admitting your part in the difficulties, you can help yourself keep your partner’s piece of the problems in proportion, allowing you to continue seeing your partner in a more positive light. Your openness will hopefully also enable your partner to be more understanding of you.

The more positive you both are, the more you can each be open to hearing the other’s complaints and differences of opinion. If doing this seems impossible, with each of you reverting easily to hurt, anger, or contentious debates, then you might benefit from couples therapy. Sometimes a third party is just what couples need to navigate their stormy relationship. However you get there, you can have a happy, healthy relationship when you learn to always respect each other and to remain committed to connecting positively despite the problems between you.


The opinions expressed in WebMD Second Opinion are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD Second Opinion are not reviewed by a WebMD physician or any member of the WebMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance, objectivity, or any other reason except for compliance with our Terms and Conditions. Some of these opinions may contain information about treatments or uses of drug products that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service or treatment.

Do not consider Second Opinion as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your care plan or treatment. WebMD understands that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified health care provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 immediately.