How Can I Save My Marriage or Relationship?

7 New Year’s Ways to Improve Your Marriage

How Can I Save My Marriage or Relationship?

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Perhaps you’ve come to the point where you’re asking yourself how you can save your marriage from divorce or relationship from separation. One of the most important things you can do to start is identify what it means to be close to your partner or spouse.

How we connect with others has been studied for more than 50 years, and knowing what your patterns of connection are can help you get closer with your spouse or partner, and even help save your marriage or relationship. The most important parts of connection with your partner or spouse involve three key parts:

  1. being close in proximity to your partner or spouse

  2. trying to avoid separations

  3. being able to turn to your partner or spouse when you need him or her, especially in times of threat or danger

Four core patterns of connection help us understand where you may get stuck in your marriage or relationship, and how you need your connection to be to feel safe and secure:

  1. First, an anxious-preoccupied way of connection leads a partner or spouse to be fearful, angry, and unsettled when connecting and dealing with emotions. This may be expressed through anger or aggressive actions that can turn a partner or spouse away.

  2. Second, an avoidant way of connection leads to distant, apathetic responses experienced by the other partner as backing away or dismissing his or her experience.

  3. Third, a disorganized way of connecting occurs when you or your partner or spouse have a history of unresolved loss and/or trauma that involves being frightened, experiencing a lot of unpredictability, and having a relationship with a caregiver or romantic partner who is unavailable. Even worse, the caregiver becomes a source of danger. The person we rely on for safety becomes a threat, and we develop a pattern of connection that leads to disorganization.

  4. On the opposite end, if you feel secure in your relationship, the well-being of both you and your partner or spouse is an ongoing priority. You seek closeness and proximity without anger or urges to withdraw. When your partner or spouse wants to be close to you, you don’t get angry or want to run, but instead welcome the closeness and respond to him or her warmly.

Share Your Experience: How Can You Save Your Marriage or Relationship?

What have you tried so far that has helped improve or even save your marriage or relationship? Where do you get stuck together with your partner or spouse that stops you from feeling safe and secure in your connection? Have you identified what your pattern of connecting with your partner or spouse is? Do you connect through anxious-preoccupied patterns, avoidant patterns, disorganized patterns, or secure patterns? What about your partner or spouse: is he or she connecting through anxious-preoccupied, avoidant, disorganized, or secure patterns? Do you relate to the key tenants of safe and secure relationships: seeking proximity, minimizing separations, and being able to count on your partner or spouse when you need him or her most? Share your experiences in the comment section below.

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  • Travis Atkinson

    Travis Atkinson, L.C.S.W., is the Director and Creator of the Loving at Your Best Plan. He has extensive training in marriage and couples therapy, based on over 27 years in practice, earning certificates from top-rated couples therapy models, including: *Certified Advanced Schema Therapist, Supervisor and Trainer for Individuals and Couples *Certified Emotionally Focused Couples Therapist and Supervisor *Certified Gottman Method Couples Therapist *Certified Group Psychotherapist *Honorary Lifetime Member of the International Society of Schema Therapy Travis is a co-author of the latest schema mode therapy inventory, the SMI. He is also the co-author of two chapters in the recently published “Creative Methods in Schema Therapy: Advances and Innovation in Clinical Practice (Routledge, 2020) and author of “Schema Therapy for Couples: Healing Partners in a Relationship” in the Handbook of Schema Therapy (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012).

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