How to Save a Relationship That’s On The Skids

Relationships feel easy in the beginning when physical attraction and excitement propel you into each other's arms.

As time goes by, this intensity tends to fade.

But if you feel like something more than a dimming spark is troubling your relationship, you don't have to write it off as a lost cause.

You and your partner may have a genuine chance to salvage a relationship if you're willing to address the crisis directly and be honest with each other.

Damage to the relationship does not have to be permanent.

In fact, all long-term relationships require couples to work through problems and stop judging each other about mistakes.

Common Struggles in a Relationship

All couples face struggles and conflict from time to time, but if conflict and struggle define the relationship, sit up and pay attention.

couple arguing at desk How to Save a Relationship

It's time to act before you starting thinking, “Is my relationship worth saving?”

According to research, here are some common relationship issues and signs of problems that can erode your closeness and connection.

  • You've stopped communicating in a healthy way.
  • One or both of you have shut down and stopped trying.
  • You feel you have changed for the worse in the relationship.
  • One or both of you is constantly critical of the other.
  • Your sex life has taken a nose dive.
  • One or both of you no longer feels emotional intimacy.
  • One or both of you spend too much time at work.
  • You wonder if you still love your partner or spouse.

Dealbreaker Relationship Crises

Some problems with couples are more than just problems — they are real crises that can tank a relationship quickly. That's not to say there aren't ways to save a relationship with these issues.

But you can't allow them to infect your connection for long. Some of these crisis situations include:

  • Infidelity
  • Substance abuse
  • Financial abuse or lying about finances
  • Emotional abuse
  • Mental health problems
  • Major physical health problems
  • Major disagreements about child-rearing, religion, or lifestyle
  • Refusal to seek counseling or work on the relationship

Let's look at some of the specific issues within a marriage or committed relationship and how to make a relationship work again.

How to Save a Relationship Without Trust

Trust is vital for successful relationships, but it can evaporate almost instantly if you catch your beloved in a lie or simply can't rely on them to follow through on commitments.

Sometimes people lie to avoid causing a fight or feeling embarrassed.

Of course, infidelity is the most dreaded breach of trust, but even cheating is not an automatic ending for all couples.

People make mistakes and can learn lessons from them.

When you're hurting, it's hard to imagine forgiving someone for being untrustworthy.

The fact that you're even thinking about how to save a relationship shows that you see value in it and want to find a way forward.

The following tips offer a template for rebuilding the trust.

  • Stop trying to convince yourself that the problem doesn’t exist because that reinforces untrustworthy behavior.
  • Identify the incident or series of actions that caused you to lose trust.
  • Think about what role you might have played in causing your partner to act unreliably or even dishonestly.
  • Talk to your lover about the problem when you can do it without being hostile or confrontational.
  • The conversation can easily slide into an argument, so stay calm and focus on uncovering the causes of the breakdown in trust.
  • Stay focused on facts and results and resist the urge to get angry if your partner dismisses your accusations or tries to blame you.
  • Take responsibility for your actions that might have contributed to the loss of trust and encourage your partner to do the same.
  • Find out if both of you are willing to work toward solutions.
  • Make a plan for correcting the issues that are undermining trust, if both of you want to fix things.
  • Agree to make changes yourself if they will foster greater trust in the future, but your significant other must be willing to meet you half way.
  • Set clear boundaries so that both of you understand the types of behavior that trigger distrust.
  • Agree to be transparent with each other about what you’re doing, where you go, how much money you’re spending, and who you’re with.

Bonus Tip: Write a short paragraph about your concerns and explain why you cannot trust the other person. Show the message to your lover before starting the conversation.

Sometimes a written message can get through to someone much more effectively than talking, especially if someone does not want to listen.

How to Save a Relationship in Crisis

Almost anything that happens in life can send your relationship into a tailspin.

Health problems, financial hardship, infidelity, poor communication, job stress, intrusive in-laws, decreased sexual desire, the distraction of children, and outright boredom can turn partners against each other.

man showing woman phone How to Save a Relationship

Figuring out how to save a failing relationship might seem impossible when life's problems overwhelm you.

It can be easy to think that everything would be better if you didn't have to deal with your significant other anymore.

  • Your relationship might be in crisis because you're dumping too much stress on your partner.
  • You might be expecting the other person to fix everything for you.
  • Your lover might be burdening you in a similar fashion until you feel like the relationship can't continue.

The truth is that weathering a relationship crisis could deepen your bond, but you'll need to work hard to reach that goal.

Here are some important points to consider when your relationship is in crisis:

  • Understand that a relationship crisis puts you in fight or flight mode.
  • Give yourself some time and space to deal with your fear and overcome the physiological influence of stress hormones and anxiety.
  • Resist the urge to confront your lover immediately and attempt to force a solution.
  • When your emotions are under control, invite your partner to talk about things in a place free of distractions like phones or children.
  • Be ready to listen to the other side of the story because both of you have valid thoughts and feelings.
  • State what the relationship lacks and what you’re hoping to get out of it. You and your partner should share this information.
  • Look for common ground after you talk about your needs and aspirations for the relationship.
  • Make sure that each of you commit to specific actions aimed at resolving the problem.
  • Write down your commitments to each other because this will help to keep both of you accountable.
  • Revisit your plan every week or month to measure your progress and check in with each other’s feelings.
  • Celebrate your successes even if they are small since meeting goals automatically lifts your mood.


Bonus Tip: During the process of saving a relationship in crisis, you need to think about what made you fall in love with this person in the first place. Staying connected to those good memories can help you overcome the urge to judge or criticize.

More Related Articles:

Has Your Husband Lost Interest In You Sexually? 7 Ways To Reignite The Flame

21 Of The Most Heartbreaking Signs Of An Emotional Affair

108 Of The Best Relationship Questions To Ask 

Can Sex Save a Relationship?

Sexual tension is a real thing, and its release could help you regard your lover with greater affection. Part of this is based in human biology. Sexual activity stimulates your brain's hypothalamus to release the hormone oxytocin.

Studies have shown that couples in the early romantic stages of their relationships have an abundance of this hormone. Having sex also produces dopamine that makes you feel happy and satisfied.

If your sex life has fallen off a cliff, then rekindling intimacy could revive your strong feelings for each.

Regular sexual activity also has the ability to frame your relationship around fun and pleasure.

The pleasure that you give each other can often diminish feelings of resentment about other things, like forgotten chores, bad habits, or old arguments.

Although verbal communication remains important for all relationships, the nonverbal communication of sex can do wonders.

Good sex alone, however, is not the sole basis for a successful relationship, but it is definitely worth pursuing as a way to turn things around.

Follow these steps for rekindling a relationship with sex:

  • Recognize that sex matters and make time for it regularly.
  • Greet your significant other with simple kisses or hugs to show that you’re interested and in love.
  • Suggest that you have date nights every week so you both can look forward to fun time together unburdened by daily concerns.
  • If you’re too tired for sex after work, choose other times when the two of you can make love, such as before work, before you go out to dinner, or the classic lunch break “nooner.”
  • Look for ways to spice up your intimacy and communicate with each other about your fantasies and desires.

Bonus Tip: A lack of sex could make you or your lover vulnerable to the temptation of cheating if someone interesting comes along.

Even if your life together feels comfortable and safe, remember that the fires of passion need fuel to burn. Welcome your partner's advances and initiate lovemaking whenever possible.

When Is It Too Late to Save a Relationship?

Although you can benefit tremendously from working hard to save your relationship, not every romantic connection survives the test of time.

Some people manage to save a relationship after an affair, but it’s a very personal decision, and the answer is not the same for everyone.

You might be better off on your own if the following red flags are obvious:

  • You often think about breaking up but are just avoiding the conversation.
  • Your significant other refuses to talk about your problems or follow through on any agreements that you have made together.
  • Sexual attraction has disappeared, and your attempts to revive it have failed.
  • Infidelity continues despite promises to be faithful.
  • You feel attracted to someone else and want the freedom to pursue a new relationship.
  • You cannot get over feelings of resentment no matter how much you try.


Do you want to save your relationship?

When you're struggling in a relationship, giving up might feel like the easiest solution. If you take this route, however, you risk losing something that's worth saving.

It's quite possible your partner desires a good relationship with you too. So reaching out and making the effort to fix things could lead to deeper intimacy and years of happiness.

To get there, you both need to take a long hard look at your own actions and contributions to the problems in your relationship. You may find you can come together and make your love stronger than ever.

Framing your relationship around compromise and mutual happiness can make a world of difference. The right perspective can help both of you forgive and move forward happily.

Healthy relationships can be a struggle at times, but a strong union will ultimately improve your quality of life.