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So you want to give your partner a second chance. You want to rekindle the relationship you had with them.
And this time, you want it to work. You want it to be better, healthier, stronger.
How do you go about fixing something that was clearly broken enough for it to almost – or actually – end in a breakup?
Here is some advice to make this second chance relationship a success.
1. Be sure it’s what you want.
Your heart has to be committed to this relationship if it is to last this time around.
Sure, you may have some doubts or fears about it, but you need to at least want the relationship to work out.
But surely that’s a given, right? Not necessarily.
Perhaps you have relented under pressure from your partner to give things another go. You were ready to end the relationship but they kept saying things would be different this time; that they’d change. And whether or not you truly believe that, you have caved in and agreed to stick at it.
Or maybe you are considering giving them a second chance rather than face the prospect of being single. A breakup isn’t always final, but it can certainly feel that way at the time and you just don’t want to put yourself through that pain.
Then there are situations involving children or marriage or simply a long history between the two of you. Untangling lives that are so closely woven together can be a challenge, and not one that you’re willing to tackle right now.
Only, you should. Because if your heart isn’t truly in it, the relationship is doomed from the outset and you’d both be better off separating now.
2. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
Okay, so good communication is important in any relationship, but it’s absolutely vital in second chance relationships.
Something went wrong the first time round and the best way to work through whatever this was is to talk to one another.
Not just one or two big conversations about how you can move forwards as a couple, but regular and honest talks about how you both feel.
Perhaps you aren’t that great at communicating with one another – in which case, learn and practice. If you aren’t able to discuss your feelings or any issues that may arise, nothing will ever get resolved.
The more these things are left unattended to, the more ill-feeling will grow once more, and the greater the chance of another relationship breakdown.
It might help to have regular sessions with a relationship counselor for the first several months just to ensure that grievances are being aired and problems are being addressed.
We highly recommend the online service from Relationship Hero. You can have sessions with a trained expert from the comfort of your own home. You’d be amazed at how much this can help.
3. Identify unhealthy relationship patterns and put steps in place to avoid them.
Do you give your partner the silent treatment whenever they upset you?
Do they get angry or frustrated if you don’t give them enough alone time?
Consider your relationship so far and look for recurring situations where something caused one or both of you to become upset.
It’s important to know what triggers periods of unease or conflict between the two of you so that you can then find ways to avoid those things.
If your partner has, in the past, put his friends and hobbies before quality time with you, one of the conditions of giving them a second chance might be a number of dedicated evenings or weekends where you spend time just the two you.
Or if you are sometimes prone to micromanaging your partner, a conversation needs to be had early, before they lose patience with you.
This comes down to identifying each other’s pain points. Once you know what they are, you can try harder not to hurt them in those ways.
4. Address issues that haven’t yet been resolved.
It’s quite possible that there were some bigger issues in your relationship that ultimately pushed it to the brink.
Whatever those things are, they will cast a shadow over any attempts to try again unless they are addressed and resolved.
What might these issues be?
It could be that there was a lack of trust between you because of lies or betrayal of some kind.
Maybe the physical element of your relationship completely disappeared for some reason.
Perhaps one of you let your depression go untreated rather than facing the truth and seeking help.
Whatever it is, you need to work to put the issue to bed, or at least find a way to better deal with it.
5. Set healthy boundaries.
Perhaps you already had some boundaries in your relationship. It might even have been the crossing of one of these red lines that led to things getting so bad in the first place.
Either way, it’s time to reassess those boundaries and set some new ones if necessary.
Not only do you have to set them, you have to communicate them clearly so each of you know what is and is not acceptable.
This could mean being completely transparent about what you are spending money on where resources are pooled together and where there was an element of hidden spending previously.
It might mean what you are and aren’t allowed to discuss with other people regarding the relationship. Perhaps you don’t want your private affairs shared with their friends or family.
Maybe you want a strict limit to how much time your partner expects you to spend with their parents. Regular visits are one thing, having them turn up for tea every other day might be asking too much.
Whatever boundaries you feel you need to set for the relationship to succeed the second time around, do so, and make it clear what those boundaries are so that there isn’t any confusion.
6. Don’t keep bringing up the past.
Whilst a second chance needn’t mean forgetting everything that came before, it should mean not raising past hurts or actions over and over again.
If either of you hold the past over the other’s head, it will only lead to ill-feeling and conflict.
You don’t need to let bygones be bygones and forgive all that they may have done straightaway, but you should not weaponize the past in order to gain leverage over your partner.
You can still feel those feelings and work on them over time, and they may still influence how you react to something your partner does. But that’s very different from explicitly digging up old skeletons to haunt them with.
This is another area where relationship counseling can really help. You may feel the need to discuss these past hurts, but it’s far better to do so with the help of a neutral third party – and only at these times.
Otherwise, they will act like shackles around the ankles of your relationship, preventing it from moving forward to a brighter future.
7. Put in the effort.
There’s no getting around the fact that a second chance relationship will require a lot of work and effort from the both of you.
It’s not easy – either practically or emotionally – to hit the reset button and try to start over.
You will need to try to be as conscious as you can when it comes to your behaviors, your thought processes, and your interactions with one another.
If you don’t put in the effort, you will almost certainly slip back into the unhealthy patterns of the past, and you already know where that road leads.
Effort can come in many different forms, some of which we have already touched upon.
Communication, spending time together, re-learning the likes and dislikes of the other person, showing each other love and affection. These are the sorts of things that you will need to work hard on if you are to create the healthy and harmonious relationship you both want.
8. Be patient with one another.
Change does not happen overnight. And change your relationship you must if it is to work out this time.
So as hard as it might be, you must try to show each other the patience you both need to adapt to the new realities of your relationship.
You will both slip up – and not just once, but multiple times. You may cross each other’s boundaries, fall back into old habits, or simply upset each other in one of a thousand different ways.
But if you both want this relationship to work, you will have to cut each other some slack.
Now, that doesn’t mean that you keep letting things slide forever. The other person must show signs of change, even if they take one step back for every two they take forward.
Patience will help maintain harmony as you slowly make the forward progress you want to make.
Still not sure how to make your relatioinship work at the second attempt? Don’t walk this path alone when you could get expert advice from a trained relationship counselor. Whether you speak to them by yourself or as a couple, they can guide you and increase the likelihood of creating a happy and healthy partnership. So why not chat online to a relationship expert from Relationship Hero who can help you figure things out. Simply click here to chat.
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