How to Fix a Bad Relationship With Your Parents

Creating a Healthy Relationship With Your Parents

How to Fix a Bad Relationship With Your Parents

A funny thing happens when you become an adult. You finally start to realize that your parents are real humans, flaws and all. Also, just because you’re not a kid anymore doesn’t mean that there won’t be any challenges in your relationship with your aging parents. Family is family, and there is always opportunity for conflict as well as growth.

Perhaps your parents still treat you a child, assuming you need assistance when you don’t. Maybe they need their own support as they age, and you find it challenging to be the caretaker or decision maker. Even as an adult, you might vacillate between wanting your parents to nurture and care for you and wanting them to treat you an independent adult.

Here are some other common problems you may experience with your parents as an adult:

  • Disagreeing on how to parent your own children
  • Hearing constant complaints or criticism from your parents
  • Disagreeing about their future medical care or living arrangements
  • Feeling lingering hurt about childhood issues
  • Having different political or religious beliefs
  • Disagreeing about finances
  • Agreeing on boundaries or frequency of contact

Navigating these family roles takes time, practice, and lots of communication. You knew when you were a teenager that you and your parents were not the same people, so it’s important to remind yourself about these differences as an adult. Your parents may have different priorities, values, and goals than you do. They may have different opinions about parenting or family roles.

While you don’t have to agree with any of these opinions, your parents will ly prove a lot more receptive to your choices if you treat these differences with respect. You can be honest about who you are and what’s important to you without being dismissive of their own beliefs.

Let’s take a look at some other strategies for communicating this respect and building a healthier relationship with your parents.

Take Responsibility

If you want to set mature boundaries in your adult relationship with your parents, then don’t ask your parents to do things for you that you can do for yourself. They are more ly to treat you an adult if you act one.

For example, you might feel tempted to call your mother to complain every time you have a fight with your spouse. Or you may ask to borrow money when you need some extra cash to make it through the month. But just because one action is an easy solution doesn’t mean that it’s the best for a relationship.

The more responsibility you can take for adult decisions, the more your parents will treat you the adult you are.

Don’t Assume

Often conflict erupts in families because people make assumptions about what someone wants or how they will react to a situation. For example, don’t assume your parents don’t have plans and will want to babysit at the last minute.

Don’t assume that they won’t be interested in hearing about what’s happening at work or the movie you saw last week. Share what’s important to you, and ask them to do the same. Never assume they won’t understand or can’t handle a disagreement.

Avoiding the truth is only a very temporary solution, and it’s one that leads to inevitable conflict.

Stay in Contact

When things are tense with a parent, it can be all too easy to not return a phone call or not fly home for Thanksgiving. When you were a kid, you couldn’t escape your parents, but cutting off contact is a choice many adults make. Unless the relationship is abusive and dangerous to your mental or physical health, cutting off contact is never an effective solution.

Not speaking might feel good in the short term, but having an adult relationship with your parents, even a relationship that has conflict, is an opportunity to grow and mature as a human. If you can develop healthy communication with your parents, you can do it with almost anyone.

If you have children, you’re also modeling the kind of relationship you’d to have with them someday.

Honor Their Legacy

Take the time to honor your parents’ stories, because you don’t want to wait until it’s too late to learn about your family history. You might see your parents in a different light if you know more about how they grew up or where they came from.

Often people find themselves more forgiving of their parents’ mistakes when they learn about the bigger picture.

Above all, helping your parents preserve their memories can help them feel valued and respected in their later years, a time when many aging adult may feel forgotten or dismissed by younger people.

If you’re not sure where to start in improving your relationship with your parents, think about how you manage challenges with any other adult that you respect, a good friend or a colleague.

Give your parents the same patience and understanding that you would give to anyone you care about. When you see challenges as an opportunity for growth, everyone benefits. You can’t change yours parents, but you can change yourself.

So consider what it would take to start building a relationship with them that you’ll treasure for life.


Is It Possible To Repair A Broken Relationship With Your Parents?

How to Fix a Bad Relationship With Your Parents

We often will invest our time and energy, heart and soul, into trying to sustain or repair a romantic relationship, or even a friendship. Oppositely, we are so hesitant, or even down right resistant, to putting even a fraction of that passion and effort into trying to repair a relationship with our parents.

Why is that?

While every family, every story, and every circumstance is different, the concept remains the same – your parent’s are family and family (except in extenuating situations) deserves a second chance.

But is it even possible to repair a broken relationship with your parents?

We think so – but it will take work (and patience, and understanding, and maybe a glass of wine or two) on both sides. Of course, the best way to begin repairing any broken relationship is to uncover where it went wrong in the first place.

What Broke Your Relationship In The First Place?

  1. There are a number of potential reasons why your relationship with your parents took a turn for the worse – some may be substantial and for good reason, while others, we hate to say it, may be minor, petty, or just born downright stubbornness.


Perhaps it was a simple misunderstanding that wedged in between you and slowly pushed you apart.

Sometimes little things misreading one’s actions, misinterpreting the motives behind those actions, or even misunderstanding something they’ve said is enough to create a barrier between people who have difficulty communicating with one another.

The Generation Gap

The generation gap between our parents and us is bigger than ever. Our beliefs are changing, our priorities, desires, and ambitions are different, and our needs are different.

This gap often diminishes our capabilities to relate to one another – our parents often don’t understand why we want certain things or are choosing to live our lives a certain way, because it’s so drastically different than how they were living at our age.

They Weren’t Good Parents

This may not be their fault, and it doesn’t mean they are bad people – of course there is the off chance that this may be the case.

More than ly they made a mistake – hey, sure there is a “parenting for dummies” book out there, but it doesn’t have all of the answers, and parenting is not an easy task!

In other cases, your parents may be reflecting the poor parenting they received from their own parents. If their parent’s set a poor example for them as they were growing up, you can’t place all of the blame for their own lackluster parenting on them.

“A Parent’s Love is Unconditional”

If you can live the rest of your life having a good relationship with your parents, why wouldn’t you want that?

They Won’t Be Here Forever

Think long and hard about this one.

No matter how angry you are with your parents or how much you think you don’t care about having them in your life – think about how you will feel when they are gone and them not being in your life is not just an option anymore but is permanent.

Not remedying (or trying to remedy) your broken relationship with your parents may seem something you can live with now, but once your parents pass away, the guilt and regret of not doing something when you could may really eat away at you.

It’s Not Only About You

Remember, you most ly aren’t the only one affected by this non-existent relationship.

The most important relationship you are standing in between by keeping your parents away is the relationship that your children have with their grandparents.

Just because your parent’s wronged you, weren’t great parents to you, or don’t have the same mindset or way as living as you, that does not mean that they don’t have the potential to be amazing grandparents to your children.

Begin With Warm and Open Dialogue

Start a conversation, not an argument.

However you approach your conversation with them, you need to make it clear that you are looking for reconciliation. Encourage openness, use kind words, and speak calmly.

Don’t be afraid to reference why your relationship has taken a turn for the worse, but don’t focus on that – instead focus on where you want the relationship to go.

Start small – with phone calls or small coffee visits – and then work your way up to longer visits or events such as family gatherings.

Avoid Hot Topics

Of course, you may not want to begin to reconcile until issues that caused the distance are resolved – but jumping right back into an argument will get you nowhere.

Instead, work on the foundation of the relationship and, once you reestablished some form of understanding, effective communication, and acceptance, then you will have a better chance at being able to resolve previous conflict without things getting blown proportion again.

Tip – See A Counselor

Don’t be afraid to seek professional help.

Seeing a therapist can be helpful for a number of reasons. They provide a safe and neutral environment for your interactions, they can act as an intermediary, they can help keep you focused on reparations rather than the rehashing of old arguments, and they are able to help both yourself and your parent’s side of things better.

There’s No Such Thing As Too Much Love

You may think you have all that you need even without your parent’s in your life – but that is simply an excuse not to try. There is no such thing as having too many people who love you.

It may feel it, but you don’t have forever.

If fixing your relationship with your parents is something you value, you should take every measure to achieve that goal.




My relationship with my parents has always been difficult and I wonder if I should cut all ties?

How to Fix a Bad Relationship With Your Parents

My relationship with my parents is difficult and painful and I am wondering whether I should continue to see them. I was the youngest child.

My father is an alcoholic and was drinking when I was growing up (he has now stopped) and my mother was emotionally distant – working hard as the only supporter of the family, but spending much of her free time  the house, away from my father.

She  always provided me with clothes, books and amazing travel opportunities, but never gave me any emotional support.

As a teenager, I developed eating disorders. My father persecuted me, blaming me for the family’s problems. We had volatile fights. My mother didn’t know how to deal with this and buried her head in the sand. I attempted suicide twice. I was given antidepressants, but therapy never followed.

At 18, I left for university (my mother fought my father over this, as he didn’t want me to leave home). I struggled with my eating disorders for years, eventually stopping with the help of therapy.

I am now in my 40s, married to a wonderful, supportive husband, and love being mother to two happy children and enjoy fulfilling work. However, I struggle hugely when visiting my family. I only see them once every year or two. Everyone tries to act as if we are a big, happy family.

I struggle to pretend everything is OK, as I am angry and hurt. My parents make hurtful, insensitive remarks that take me back to being a teenager. Part of me doesn’t want to see my family at all.

I debate whether it is worth discussing these issues with them, but I am not sure they have the emotional intelligence to engage and fear I will be left vulnerable and disappointed again.

I edited out some key details to protect your identity. Sometimes, in complicated families, the tendency is to look back to try to make sense of things, and this has great merit. But it can take much energy, and provide little resolution. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is to look at the now, and work forwards.

Chris Mills, an experienced psychotherapist (, thinks it is amazing that, despite everything that has happened, you are not repeating patterns in your family and have created a good life for yourself. He says: “Sometimes, someone [in the family] takes a deep breath, does the work and stops the rot.”

Mills thinks there are some “green shoots” in the bleakness of your early years. Namely, that your mother did things that “could be described as emotional support in the way that she could. She showed that you had value and you were worth doing things for.”

I think the fact that she stood up to your father – when she usually didn’t – in facilitating you to leave home, was very telling.

You have been through some incredibly tough emotional landscapes and now you find yourself struggling with the way your family is.

“What you seem to be finding unbearable,” says Mills, “is that you have to put a brave face on it [when you get together with your family], whereas you’ve dedicated your life to being authentic, and suddenly you have to go back.

” Mills and I feel it is “crucially important” that you know you don’t have to continue having contact with your family.

But, some things to think about. Often when people write to me about wanting to sever contact, it is the actual act of cutting ties they focus on, but that is not the hardest bit; neither is it always the closure they hope for.

You need to think about whether it is just your parents you want to cut ties with or your siblings, too? What about wider family? What about your children and their relationship with your family? It is up to you who you no longer see, and you can make it clear if you want your children to continue to have a relationship with them. But that may mean you also still have some contact (you don’t say how old your children are).

“If you decide you want to stay in contact,” suggests Mills, “you could do something incredibly brave – and you are incredibly brave. You could write them a letter – not an email – saying: ‘I want us to talk about the past, not to beat anyone up about it, but so we can have a shared reality, because I need that.’”

Of course, there may be no response. “As you see it,” says Mills, “there’s a family story your family cling to. And, largely, people don’t it when others come in telling them that story is wrong. So they may rather scapegoat you than listen to your other story.”

I think you need to be realistic about how much they will change.

I asked Mills how you could accept the anger and he explained it was OK to be angry, but said: “Sometimes anger only recedes if you can express it.” But expressing it to your family – if they won’t listen – won’t bring the resolution you need.

But, says Mills: “All of us are entitled to protect ourselves from harm, wherever that harm comes from.” You have the right not to have to see your parents if you don’t want to. If you do still see them, “you have to manage your expectations,” says Mills.

“If you do cut ties, remember you are doing it for the best reasons; it’s not an aggressive thing, but protective. There are conditions attached whatever you do. There will probably be no golden sunset where your parents are concerned.

But you have created the golden sunset – in your own life.”

• In the UK the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14. Other international suicide helplines can be found at

Your problems solved

Contact Annalisa Barbieri, The Guardian, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU or email Annalisa regrets she cannot enter into personal correspondence

Follow Annalisa on @AnnalisaB

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15 Insights on Improving Mother-Daughter Relationships

How to Fix a Bad Relationship With Your Parents

Mother-daughter relationships are complex and diverse. Some mothers and daughters are best friends. Others talk once a week. Some see each other weekly; others live in different states or countries. Some spar regularly. Some avoid conflict. Others talk through everything. And undoubtedly, there’s a hint of all these things in most relationships.

There also are ups and downs, no matter how positive (or prickly) the relationship. In her private practice, Roni Cohen-Sandler, Ph.

D, psychologist and co-author of I’m Not Mad, I Just Hate You! A New Understanding of Mother-Daughter Conflict, sees three primary complaints that daughters have about their moms: Moms try to parent them and are overly critical and demanding. From moms’ perspective, daughters don’t listen to them, make poor choices and have no time for them.

Whatever your relationship with your mother or daughter, you can always make improvements. Here’s how to enhance your communication and connection and cut down on clashes.

1. Make the first move.

Don’t wait for the other person to make the first move, said Linda Mintle, Ph.D, marriage and family therapist and author of I Love My Mother, But… Practical Help to Get the Most Your Relationship. Doing so inevitably leaves relationships stuck. “Think about how you feel in the relationship and what you can do to change.”

2. Change yourself.

Many think that the only way to improve a relationship is for the other person to change their ways. But you aren’t chained to their actions; you can change your own reactions and responses, Mintle said. Interestingly, this can still alter your relationship. Think of it as a dance, she said. When one person changes their steps, the dance inevitably changes.

3. Have realistic expectations.

Both moms and daughters often have idealistic expectations about their relationship. For instance, kids commonly think their mom will be nurturing and present — always. This idea can develop from an early age.

When her kids were young, Mintle found herself setting up this unrealistic belief during their nightly reading time.

She’d read a book about a mama bunny who rescued her son every time he ventured out and tried a risky activity, such as sailing or mountain-climbing.

4. Communicate.

Lack of communication is a common challenge with moms and daughters.

“In some ways they can be so close or feel so close that they believe that each of them should know how the other one feels,” Cohen-Sandler said. “What happens as a result is they don’t communicate.

” Or they communicate harshly, in ways they’d never “dare speak to everyone else,” which causes hurt feelings that “don’t go away so easily,” she said.

Because moms and daughters aren’t mind readers, be clear and calmly state how you’re feeling. Also, speak your “mind in a very heartfelt but gentle manner.” Is your mom treating you a child? Simply say, “Mom, you’re not treating me an adult.”

5. Be an active listener.

Active listening is “reflecting back what the other person is saying,” instead of assuming you already know, Cohen-Sandler said. When you reflect back what your mom or daughter is saying, you’re telling her that she’s being heard and that you understand.

Also, listen “to the feelings underlying the message,” which is often the real message, she said. If “mom says, ‘you’re acting a doormat,’ the daughter hears that as being horribly critical [and that she’s not good enough], but what the mom is really saying is, ‘I feel so protective of you because you’re not protecting yourself.’”

6. Repair damage quickly.

“One of the key principles in sustaining healthy and satisfying marriages is to repair damage quickly,” Mintle said. Healthy couples don’t avoid conflict. They realize conflict is inevitable and they deal with it head on. This applies to mother and daughter relationships, too, she said.

Not resolving conflict can have surprising consequences. “If you don’t deal with your mom (and dad) by resolving conflict, you’re going to carry those same patterns into your future relationships,” whether that’s with your friends, partner or boss, Mintle said.

“Working it out with your mom,” however, is “the best gift you can give to your daughter,” she said.

But pick your battles. If it’s not that important, “Instead of being in a tug of war, just drop the rope,” Mintle said. Case in point: Years ago, Mintle’s mom told her to put a hat on her baby so she didn’t get sick. Instead of arguing about something so small, Mintle put the hat on and moved on.

7. Put yourself in her shoes.

Mintle refers to empathy as “widening the lens.” She uses the analogy of a digital camera, which just offers us a snapshot. But a panoramic lens provides a much wider view, letting us see the object in a larger context.

If you’re a daughter, think of your mom as a woman with her “own wounds and hurts,” who was born and raised in a different generation with different values and difficult family relationships and issues, Mintle said.

As such, address your mom or daughter’s feelings with empathy and offer a compromise, Cohen-Sandler suggested. If mom really wants to hang out, instead of saying “Stop asking me, you know I’m busy,” say, “I know how much you want to meet with me, and I wish I could but I can’t do it this week; can we do it next week?”

8. Learn to forgive.

Forgiveness is “an individual act,” Mintle said. It differs from reconciliation, which takes both people and isn’t always possible. Forgiving someone isn’t saying that what happened is OK. It’s not condoning, pardoning or minimizing the impact, she said.

Mintle views forgiveness as key for well-being. “I’m constantly telling daughters you have to forgive your mom in order to be healthy.” “The power of forgiveness is really for the person who forgives.”

(On a related note, “the better you can forgive, the better you can repair damage quickly,” Mintle said.)

9. Balance individuality and closeness.

It can be challenging for daughters to build their own identities. Sometimes daughters think that in order to become their own person, they must cut off from their moms, Mintle said. Or, quite the opposite, they’re so fused that they’re unable to make decisions without her input, she said. Both are clearly problematic.

But daughters can find their voices and identities within the relationship. We learn how to deal with conflict and negative emotions through our families, Mintle said. “You don’t grow and develop and become your own person void of relationships.”

So how can you strike a balance between staying connected and still being true to yourself? “You can take any position on any powerful issue and hold your own and not become defensive and angry. It’s this balance of connection and separateness,” Mintle said.

Mintle and her mom had a positive relationship but sometimes struggled with this balance. When Mintle was a well-established professional in her 30s, her mom would still tell her what to do. Every time she’d visit, she’d say, “Linda, it’s getting late, it’s time for you to go to bed.

” Mintle recalled being furious with her mom and unloading her frustrations on her husband. Then, she realized that she had to talk to her mom in a different way. The next night her mom said the same thing, Mintle used humor: “Mom, if you hadn’t been there, I probably would’ve stayed up all night.

” “I need to back off, don’t I?” her mom responded.

10. Agree to disagree.

Moms and daughters disagree on many topics, such as marriage, parenting and career, and they usually try to convince the other to change those opinions, Cohen-Sandler said. Moms feel threatened and rejected that their daughters are making different decisions. Daughters think their moms disapprove of them and get defensive.

Realize that there are some topics that you’ll never agree on. And that’s OK, she said. In fact, “it’s really healthy for moms and daughters to have major disagreements.” Also, don’t take “something personally that isn’t personal.”

“The bottom line is that moms and daughters can be really close but they’re not the same people. [They’re] allowed to have different interests, goals and ways of handling things.” A daughter doesn’t have to change her choices to please her mom; and mom doesn’t have to change her opinions, either.

11. Stick to the present.

Moms and daughters tend to have “an old argument that runs a broken record in the background,” Cohen-Sandler said. It becomes their default disagreement. Instead, avoid “bring[ing] up old gripes from the past,” and try to focus on the present.

12. “Use ‘I’ statements, rather than being accusatory,” Cohen-Sandler said.

You might say “I feel this way [or] this is how that makes me feel.” Similarly, avoid “sarcasm and facetiousness.” It’s easily misinterpreted, causes hurt feelings and takes you further away from resolution.

13. Talk about how you want to communicate.

Younger women typically don’t want to talk on the phone, said Cohen-Sandler, who often hears daughters complain that their “moms will call at the worst part of the day for them.”

Instead of harshly dismissing your mom (or ignoring her calls), communicate what works best, such as: “If you want to talk on the phone, the best time is in the morning. But if you want to reach me during the day [with something] more urgent, just text me.”

14. Set boundaries.

Mintle commonly sees clients who regret not trying to repair their relationships with their moms after they’re gone. Even when the relationship is negative or unhealthy, there’s still a powerful bond, she said. One way to ease into reconnecting with your mom (or daughter) is by setting clear-cut boundaries. (Boundaries are key for any healthy relationship.)

For instance, when visiting your mom or daughter for the holidays, stay at a hotel. Let her know your boundaries and the minute she starts crossing them, say that you’re going to leave.

If you’re talking over the phone, Mintle gave this example of asserting yourself: “I want to talk to you and keep our relationship going but if you start to call me names or criticize me, I have to hang up the phone because that’s not healthy for me.”

Asserting yourself with your mother or daughter can spill over into other relationships. If you can create and maintain boundaries with her, then you can do this with anyone else, such as your boss or partner, Mintle said.

15. Don’t bring in third parties.

It’s common for mothers and daughters to bring someone else into their conflict. A daughter might involve dad because mom is driving her crazy. Mom might involve another child because she feels she can’t talk to her daughter. Either way, talk directly to the person.

Finally, ask yourself if you’re OK with your relationship and your actions. During Mintle’s mom’s final days, she recalled sitting on her hospice bed and exchanging looks that conveyed they were both at peace. This was “worth every difficult conversation,” she said.

15 Insights on Improving Mother-Daughter Relationships


Repairing Your Relationship With Your Mother

How to Fix a Bad Relationship With Your Parents

Source: Big Stock Images

How you related to your mother when you were young has a profound impact on your adult relationships—and your relationship with yourself. Your temperament, feelings of self-worth, anger style, sense of humor, and outlook on life are all things that were affected by your mother (or another primary female caretaker).

While some were lucky enough to have a loving, supportive, and present mother who never caused us emotional distress many of us weren’t. If you are one of the unlucky ones, this article is for you.

I wish I could say it’s never too late to repair your relationship with your mother and leave it there. But the whole issue of repairing is too complicated for that.

For some, it is, in a way, too late. Your mother may have passed, or you may have decided that your relationship with her is too painful or harmful to keep her in your life.

In cases these, the repaired relationship is one you carry within yourself, which helps you heal and feel whole even in her absence. For others, though, the repairing may include her—if you choose to.

Remember: Your mother is a person who makes mistakes—just you.

When you were a child, your parents were larger-than-life figures. They were your heroes or your enemies, your bosses or your protectors. They were not regular people. Part of growing up is realizing that our parents are just that — regular people.

They’re flawed and they screw up sometimes (or a lot of the time). Most people do the best they can with the tools they have, including your parents. Flawed parents often had flawed parents of their own.

Sometimes we try to correct the mistakes our parents made and end up overcorrecting.

If your mother didn’t show enough kindness and love, you might show so much warmth and love to your children that they feel smothered.

I’d to throw out a fancy-sounding term from social psychology here that might help explain this concept better:fundamental attribution error.

The fundamental attribution error is the tendency to view someone else’s flaws as representative of who they are, and your own as situational.

In other words:

When I cut you off in traffic, it’s because I’m late for an important meeting. When you cut me off in traffic, it’s because you’re a selfish jerk.


When I show a quick temper toward my child, it’s because I’m stressed out. When my mother got angry, it was because she was a bad parent.

Think back on interactions with your mother that have stayed with you since you were young and consider if the fundamental attribution error played a part in how you interpreted the event. If your mother was dismissive of your emotions, was it because she was a terrible mother? Or was it because she was wrapped up in her own stressful life, or because she didn’t know how to comfort you?

Does that make her dismissiveness okay? Absolutely not. But it makes it more understandable, and therefore perhaps easier to forgive.

Becoming a parent may change how you think of your mother.

I laugh at some of the stories I hear about how people’s perspectives of their parents changed once they had children of their own.

For example, the once-rebellious son who called his mother to complain about his infant daughter crying all night and keeping him up. He just wanted to thank his mother for “not throwing me out a window when I was a baby,” he said.

When we have children, it’s a peek behind the scenes of our own childhood. Oh, so that’s what happened after they sent me to bed! At 10, you thought all the fun happened after your bedtime, and you resented your parents for making you miss out.

Now that you have kids, you know that your kid’s bedtime means you finally have the freedom to… collapse into an exhausted heap, or to stay up late finishing all the work you didn’t get to do while you were busy driving them from school to soccer practice to the math tutor.

Healing when your mother is no longer with you.

When you can’t call your mother to tell her about your parenting experiences or ask why she behaved in a way that hurt you, it’s time to find a new “authority figure” or elder who can provide you with some of the benefits of a mother-child relationship.

A supportive therapist, personal coach, religious leader a pastor or rabbi, or older family member can be good options when looking for someone to fill this role. You want to find someone who can offer you the unconditional acceptance you didn’t receive—or can no longer receive—from your mother.

When you repair your relationship with your mother, you don’t only heal the fissures in your relationship with that one person. You also improve your relationship with your significant other, your friends, your children—and yourself.

To read more about healing childhood emotional wounds, please visit my website, sign up for my newsletter, or find me on social media.


9 Ways to Pull Your Relationship a Rut

How to Fix a Bad Relationship With Your Parents

If you feel your relationship has reached a bit of a plateau—or even fallen into a rut—it’s natural to want to make a big change, completely transform everything, and bring the two of you closer together.

And while getting the rut is crucial and the instinct is a good one, it’s also important to look for the right tool to make that transformation happen.

When you get to a certain age and a certain place in your relationship, it’s easy to assume that the one obvious thing to do is to have children.

Now, if you’ve always wanted to have children, you're prepared financially, and you both agree it’s time, having children may indeed be the right choice. But if you’re just looking for a big change, kids shouldn't be your default option.

Children won’t fix a relationship that isn’t working—in fact, they’ll just make all of those things that aren’t working far more obvious. So if you feel you need a change, there are plenty of things that can totally transform your relationship that don’t involve having children at all.

Start small, get your relationship on track, then think about children—if that’s something you want.

Not sure where to start? Here are nine things that can help.

If you feel you need a big change, but you don’t think that having kids is the right choice for you, you may want to consider a move. Moving to a new home—or even a whole new location—can reinvigorate your relationship, giving you something to discover together. If you feel you’re really stuck in a rut, sometimes it’s easier to give yourself a fresh start, mentally and physically.

If you want a smaller change, then try finding something new to try as a couple.

Picking up a new hobby gives you something to learn together, which is a great way to bond, create new memories, and see each other in a new light.

You can pick one thing and stick to it or you can sign up for lots of different classes and just enjoy exploring. The important thing is that you’re shaking up your routine.

Travel is a great way to make your relationship feel new again—the two of you can get away from your ordinary context and your day-to-day annoyances and just be. Choose somewhere you’ve always wanted to go or pick somewhere that evokes a lot of romantic memories for you. Making travel a regular part of your life can definitely change your relationship.

A job you hate can affect every single area of your life. If you or your partner (or both of you) spend as much time worrying about work or complaining about work as you do actually being at work, then something needs to change.

Even though being in a relationship means supporting each other, if your entire relationship becomes consumed with the anxiety or annoyances of work, then it’s going to suck all of the oxygen the room.

Change your job and you’ll be amazed to see what else changes around it.

Keeping your sex life alive is important. Everyone has a different sex drive, and that’s OK—you should never feel pressured to have more sex than you desire or feel comfortable with. But if your sex life has dropped from what’s normal to you, try to get that intimacy back. Reconnecting physically can have a huge emotional impact.

Maybe you have to make more of an effort to have sex, but maybe you just want to transition to other forms of physical intimacy—in that case, make sure you’re making time to touch each other, whether that’s hugging, curling up on the sofa, or being more playful.

If you want to change your relationship, try putting the phones away—and if you really want to transform your relationship, agree to spend more time together without screens at all. Remove the TVs, the phones, and the laptops, and try to do things going out for dinner, going for a walk, or just talking again. Without the distractions, that time will mean so much more.

If you’re goal-oriented people, creating a bucket list is a great way to add some excitement to your relationship and bring you closer together. You can both add some things you’ve always wanted to do—anything from a pottery class to visiting Spain to skydiving—and one by one, start checking those things off. You'll feel productive on a whole new level.

If your date night has gone, it’s time to get it back. This simple change can actually have a huge impact. Date nights don’t have to be expensive—a walk around the park and a single drink in a bar can do it—but it’s about setting aside that time. Regular date nights add romance and quality time back into a relationship without having to think too hard.

Finally, if you feel distant from your partner and you really want to improve your relationship, try checking in about your day, every day. Take some time, even if it’s only five minutes, to ask each other about how your day was and really listen. Sometimes a little change that can create a shift in attitude and remind you not to take each other for granted.

Having children is a great option for some couples, but you shouldn’t default to such a huge decision unless you’re really sure. If your relationship needs a change, there are plenty of ways you can totally transform your partnership. As long as you both decide to put the effort and time in, there are so many options to bring the two of you closer together.


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