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18 Secrets to Get Through a Rough Patch in a Relationship & Grow Closer

You and your partner aren’t connecting like you used to, so you need to know how to get through a rough patch in a relationship. Here’s how you do it. 

rough patch in a relationship

All relationships go through their ups and downs. But when you are in the down phase, you need to know how to get through a rough patch in a relationship so you two can make it out on the other side. After all, there is only so much bending that a relationship can take before it snaps like a dried-up twig.

What is a rough patch in a relationship? 

During an interview for the May 2013 issue of Glamour UK magazine, Hollywood royalty Gwyneth Paltrow said, “when two people throw in the towel at the same time, then you break up, but if one person’s saying: ‘Come on, we can do this,’ you carry on.”

One reason why relationships tend to fail is that both parties give up at the same time. Even if just one person keeps up the fight, there is a high chance that things will work out in the end. However, if both people in the relationship give up, there is no hope of that relationship going forward. [Read: 20 reasons for divorce that couples overlook]

Even so, Paltrow’s quote applies to everyone out there currently in a relationship. Whether it is dealing with money troubles, career drama, or a clash of personalities between you and your loved one, there is always a way to survive a rough patch. The only thing to consider is whether both sides want to fight for it.

Are rough patches in relationships normal?

Relationships aren’t easy. They go through ebbs and flows and ups and downs. In the beginning, they are easy because you’re newly in love and see your partner as a perfect person. But as time goes on, the excitement cools down and it becomes more difficult to maintain happiness.

So, the longer you have been with someone, the more likely you will hit rough patches in your relationship. And yes, it is normal. But a lot of couples don’t make it through them. It’s possible, but you just need to make an effort.

How long do rough patches last?

This is a difficult question because it differs for each couple. It could last for a couple of days to a couple of years. But the longer you put off working through it, the longer it will last; your problem won’t just go away on its own. [Read: 20 signs you should break up and throw in the towel]

So, how long it lasts is entirely up to you and your partner. If you both recognize the problems and commit to rebuilding the relationship, then the rough patch can clear relatively quickly. But if both of you aren’t on board, then it will last a long time. Maybe even forever.

How to get through a rough patch in a relationship

No relationship is perfect. If anyone ever says that it is, then you know for a fact that they have no idea what they are talking about. Being someone’s special person takes hard work, effort, and sacrifice. 

Whether it calls for giving up your time, money, goals, or sanity, being in love is a lot more demanding than it is easy. Regardless of all of that, there is no denying that it is all worth it. Here are 18 ways you and your partner can get through a rough patch. [Read: Should we break up? 35 signs it’s over and past the point of no return]

1. Find perspective

Figure out why you are in a relationship with this person at all. Most people will say it is because they want companionship, to start a family, stability, love, and other emotional factors. 

When you can focus on why you and your partner have agreed to become an ‘us,’ you put things into perspective and make it simpler to get through a rough patch. Reminding each other why you’re together in the first place can be the inspiration you need to plow through this rough patch.

2. Regularly check your relationship’s vital signs

You have to maintain your relationship regularly, whether you want to or not. Like the human body, a relationship is made up of many working parts. In order for it to function well, you have to make sure that every part is running at its optimum level.

Pay attention to increased impatience, anger, disagreements, and so on. Diagnose them and do whatever you can to expel these negative emotions and behaviors from your life. It’s better to handle problems as they come, instead of piling them up and solving them in one fell swoop. [Read: 16 silly bad habits that can hurt your relationship]

3. Weigh the pros and cons

Physically write out a pros and cons list and see which list is longer. The pros will usually outweigh the cons, making it clear why you are with your partner. If, by some chance, the cons list is longer or more significant than the pros list, then it may be time to consider ending the relationship. [Read: 16 signs it’s time to break up and move on]

4. Don’t be afraid to change

Whether you are going through your first rough patch or the hundredth, there is no denying that something has to change if you want things to improve. Don’t be afraid to change if you have to. 

Sure, many people will tell you that you should never change who you are for someone else, but what is wrong with tweaking your attitude to be more tolerant, patient, kind, and loving? Absolutely nothing! Hence, don’t be afraid to change for the better.

5. Get some help

If you and your partner have hit a rough patch and do not know what to do next, there is no shame in seeking out help. Speak to a marriage therapist, a couples counselor, or to a close friend. 

Getting input from an unbiased third party will do wonders for your relationship. Sometimes, all you need to get through a difficult time is someone else’s opinion and advice on what to do next.

6. Strive for the same thing

There is a saying that ‘the key to a happy relationship is not to look at each other but to look in the same direction.’ A good reason your relationship has hit a rough patch is that both of you are not working towards the same goals. 

Sit down with your partner and have a serious discussion on what both of you want. Come up with a one-year plan, 5-year plan, 10-year plan, and so on, and whatever it is, do it together. [Read: How to communicate in a relationship – 16 steps to a better love]

7. Compromise often

Ask anyone who has ever been in a long-term relationship, and they will tell you that plenty of compromises and sacrifices are involved. Making your partner happy sometimes comes at your expense, and you have to be prepared to give up certain things for the relationship’s overall health.

The golden rule is to compromise often, even if it means going somewhere or doing something that you never imagined yourself doing. 

Whether it is something massive like relocating to another country to support your husband’s career or taking your wife to the ballet on her birthday, these are just some of the things that you have to do to maintain happiness in your relationship.

8. Look for the silver lining

Getting through a rough patch in your relationship is no easy feat if you are constantly negative. How you handle what is happening now will affect the situation’s outcome. If you cannot see the positivity in the situation, things will never improve.

Sure, it may be hard to look for the silver lining during such a dark hour, but if you want to get through it with your relationship intact, you must try your very best. 

For example, you should look at rough patches as learning experiences and opportunities to fix what is broken, so that you need not deal with the same problem in the future. [Read: Is negative thinking ruining your life?]

9. Look back at the good times

Think of doing this as reminding yourself why you’re still holding on after all this time. Getting nostalgic will lead to other positive emotions such as appreciation, happiness, love, and most importantly, the will to fight to keep the relationship alive.

Keep reminding yourself that things were not always bad and you will be just fine. [Read: Little habits that bring couples closer together]

10. Be grateful

Once you are grateful for what you have, you will find that things are not so bad after all. Being grateful will not only help you get through a rough patch, but it will also give you the strength to push through and be a better partner. 

Once you see all the wonderful things that your loved one can offer you, you will do your very best to reciprocate, and that’s when things will start getting better.

11. Be honest with yourself and each other

Sometimes it’s easier to stick your head in the sand and not acknowledge the problems in the relationship. But that won’t fix anything. In fact, it will probably make it worse. So, be honest with yourself and admit that things are not going well. Figure out what is not working for you.

Once you figure this out, you need to be honest with your partner. You might not want to hurt them, but it’s the only way real progress can be made. Both of you have to share your honest feelings about the state of the relationship. [Read: 21 honest reasons your relationship is drifting and why it happens]

12. Be emotionally vulnerable

It’s never easy to go through a rough patch. And when you do, sometimes it’s instinctual to put up a wall and deal with it on your own. You don’t want to get hurt any more than you already have, so you put yourself in “protective” mode.

But you need to be emotionally vulnerable. And at the same time, you must be respectful and loving when your partner shares their heart and soul with you. Only kindness and love will be acceptable when you are being vulnerable.

13. Listen to your partner’s wants and needs

If you want to get through a rough patch in your relationship, you need to listen to your partner’s wants and needs. You might think that your partner is to blame for all of your problems in the relationship, but you still need to listen.

If you have a long list of complaints, that’s fine. But they might have a list of complaints too. So, you have to be willing to listen. [Read: How to show empathy and learn to understand someone else’s feelings]

Your wants and needs are not the only important things in the relationship. Theirs matter too. So, be open to what they need. Be prepared to change your behavior to make them happy, and they should do the same for you.

14. Recognize behavior that affects the relationship

As we said, you can’t play the blame game if you want to get through this rough patch. You must look deep within yourself and see how you contribute to your problems. They also need to do the same because, as the saying goes, “it takes two to tango.”

What negative behaviors do you have that are pushing your partner further from you? What have you said or not said that has affected them? Take personal responsibility and own up to your mistakes and encourage them to do that as well. [Read: How to stop being selfish – 20 ways to stop hurting and using others]

15. Get to the root of the problem

Many times when a couple fights, what they are fighting about isn’t really the problem. Let’s say that you always argue about cleaning the house. Well, is it really the house being clean that is the problem? 

It usually isn’t. If that’s the “issue,” then the real issue is a lot deeper than that. It could be that one of you thinks the other one is selfish because they never help clean the house and just do what they want. That is the root of the problem – not the actual cleanliness of the house.

16. Work as a team

When most couples fight, they see themselves as “enemies.” Each person tries to “win” during a conflict. But when one person “wins,” the other person “loses,” and that’s not healthy. It just creates more resentment. [Read: How to communicate with your spouse and end the roller coaster ride]

So, you need to work together as a team. See yourself as allies and not enemies. Work toward solutions that will make both of you happy – not just one of you. That’s the only way that you two will ever make it through a rough patch.

17. Make an effort

You can’t expect the relationship to get better overnight. And you can’t wave a magic wand and have things go back to normal. Both of you have to put a lot of effort into rebuilding your relationship. A partnership is a two-way street. [Read: Putting too much effort into a relationship – where to draw the line]

Just like if a plant is never watered, it will die. And the same is true of relationships. Both people need to put in equal effort. If only one person does, then it’s like being in a relationship with a brick wall *brick walls just stand there and do nothing*.

18. Choose not to give up

You will never make it through a rough patch in a relationship if either one of you gives up. Sure, it might be tempting because it would be easier that way. But if you do, you’ll never make it.

Both of you have to stay committed to your relationship. You have to rekindle what you once had so you can rediscover each other and your happiness. 

[Read: How to fix a relationship that’s falling apart]

A rough patch is not a death sentence. Rather, it’s a learning experience that makes couples stronger. Once you deal with these issues, you will come out with a stronger bond that only adversity can foster.

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Carol Morgan LP
Dr. Carol Morgan
Dr. Carol Morgan has a Ph.D. in communication and is a professor at Wright State University where she loves corrupting young minds. As a relationship and succes...