Are you going through the hardest months in a relationship so far and can’t figure out how to get out of this mess?

Don’t worry, we’re here to help. In this article, we’re going to look at 7 tips that can help you wade through this rough patch in your relationship and return back to relatively normal ways. And if you think this is something unique, it’s not. 

Going through rough patches in relationships is rather normal and happens often across relationships. So, let’s look at the different ways to make it through the hardest months in a relationship. We have with us Gopa Khan (Masters in Counseling Psychology), who specializes in marriage and family counseling, who’ll be providing tips and advice on how to see these months through.

Which Are The Hardest Months In A Relationship?

The hardest months in a relationship usually arrive after the departure of the first relationship phase, the Honeymoon phase. This is the phase where everything seems perfect, your partner seems like a person you can spend the rest of your life with, and there are plenty of hormones and love flowing around everywhere. You are in love, and it’s the headiest feeling in the world!

Then begins what is the most difficult stage in a relationship, the phase where all the doubts pour in and the heady feeling mostly vanishes. After you start knowing the person more and more, you begin to get a more complete picture and that often leads to disillusionment. It can also mean more conflicts and arguments between you two over the littlest of differences and the same things in them that might’ve charmed you before start to irritate you.

This is because people are on their best behavior in the initial stages of dating. It’s when they start getting more familiar and intimate that the trouble arises. There are guides out there such as the things to never do in the first month of a relationship that enables people to impress you in the initial days of dating. But it’s only when you see them for what they are, do you understand the kind of person you’re in love with, and it’s not always the best feeling in the world.

This hardest time period in a relationship usually arrives anywhere between 4  to 12 months of the relationship. As per a research paper titled Re-Examining Relationship Development published by Michael Polonsky and Srikanth Beldona, a relationship can fall into the inactive or de-actualized phase during these months. This makes surviving the tough times even more crucial if you wish to have a long and meaningful relationship with your partner.

And this is what sets the stage for what’s going to be your future with them if you two shall carry on or separate. We shall now look at how you can navigate through this hardest time period in a relationship to make decisions rationally and patiently.

Expert Recommends How To Make It Through The Hardest Months In A Relationship

In this section, we’re going to look at the ways you can make it through the hardest months in a relationship. This will help you in understanding the cause of conflicts between you two and make better decisions during a rough patch in a relationship. Whether you’re going through this phase after 3 months of dating or 3 years, it’s painful and confusing nevertheless. This is why these tips will better arm you in dealing with the hardest time period in a relationship.

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1. Keep trust in each other

Gopa says, “It’s easy to give up on a marriage or get emotionally disconnected from the marriage. At times like this, it’s best to hang in there and not give up easily. Giving up in a marriage happens too easily. You need to go back to what aspects disrupted the trust in one another and figure out through what aspects can the couple build trust in one another again. Start focussing on what aspects are best in their marriage, e.g: children, quality in lifestyle, family, etc.”

Trust is what carries a relationship forward. It’s the cog in the wheel of your relationship and keeping trust in your partner even in the rough times helps make things easier. You know you have someone to lean back on, someone you love, and someone who loves you back. Just that knowledge is sometimes enough to help you through the hardest months in a relationship.

2. Try to spend more time together

It might seem that after being in a relationship for 4 months or more, you don’t need to spend as much time with your partner as you did in the initial phase of your relationship. But that’s simply not true. Often relationships go downhill just because the partners barely talk to each other. This allows for miscommunication and doubts to creep into your relationship and damage it for no reason at all. 

So, even after 3 months of dating or 3 years, don’t stop communicating and remember that communication is the key to any partnership. Even if you have busy work lives, make sure to spend some time together, maybe watching Netflix or reading a book together. Sometimes the biggest fissures arise because the other partner is feeling neglected in a relationship. The best way to avoid that is by having some quality time together whenever possible.

“When things get tough in a marriage, the couple tries to keep an emotional and physical distance leading to estrangement. At this time, it’s best to agree to start doing activities that they enjoyed before. For e.g, if the couple enjoyed going on walks, they can agree to do that provided they don’t talk about problems and issues during their walks and just enjoy each other’s company. The couple can choose to spend quality time, cook together, go on drives or do activities that they mutually enjoy and choose to be kind & friendly during the time spent together. This will further build trust in their marriage,” Gopa suggests.

3. Don’t stop loving them just because the times are unfavorable

For couples going through hard times in marriage, Gopa advises, “As a counselor, I encourage couples to maintain physical touch and intimacy. To share their values, and ideals and to make their emotional connection strong. To understand that every relationship will go through tough times but how they sail through these difficult times, will in turn make their marriage stronger.”’

You won’t ever find this tip in the list of things to never do in the first month of dating. It’s because, in the initial months of your relationship, there’s plenty of love and attraction toward each other. Everything seems beautiful and you see the world through a pair of rose-tinted glasses. But after you’re past that stage, the most difficult stage in a relationship begins.

This is the phase when you start doubting the love between you two. You start wondering if there ever was anything between you two, to begin with. And it is then that you must try the hardest to keep the flame between you two alive and burning. Go on little dates and express your love from time to time. 

4. Listen

One of the key elements for cruising through the hardest months in a relationship is by listening to your partner. We often prioritize ourselves and insist on keeping our thoughts and opinions out in the open, often discarding the other in the process. This can cause fissures in your relationship that are hard to fill in. To avoid that in the first place, listen to your partner attentively and respond to their words carefully. This shall make them feel cherished and loved and help bring you two closer.

Gopa counsels, “Build on communication. Choose to agree to disagree. Working with couples counselors will help improve communication and help you learn fair fighting techniques. Choose to listen to one another, empathize and focus on problem-solving together. Create win-win solutions and try to meet each other halfway.”

5. The struggle is mutual

“Sometimes, when the marriage gets tough, it can get lonely or feel it’s an uphill task to keep the marriage going. Best for the couple to set time aside on a weekly basis to discuss concerns and leave the rest of the time to enjoy the marriage and go with the flow. Sometimes, it helps to not discuss problems daily, to give it a break and to talk about future plans. 

Couples should talk about long-term goals and plans for themselves and for their dreams. This helps bind the couple together, e.g: planning where to go for their future holiday, saving to buy a house, or how they would like to celebrate their upcoming marriage anniversary, etc. Thinking and planning for their future help the couple to see hope in their marriage,” Gopa suggests.

While it’s confusing and demanding to wade through the most difficult stage in a relationship, it’s not so hard if you two decide to go through it together. For the relationship to work properly, it’s necessary for both of you to chip in. Only one partner making all the contributions won’t ever help and so, both of you must agree to do your best to try and make the relationship work. It’s not so hard to deal with uncertainty in relationships when both of you have each other by your sides.

Whether you have the experience of being in a relationship for 4 months or 4 years, you should ensure that both of you are putting in equal amounts of work to navigate the relationship. And if it’s only you who keeps trying to pull the weight of the relationship your shoulders, maybe you should think about separating.

6. Remember the good times

One of the more effective tips to make it through the most difficult stage in a relationship is to remember and cherish all the good times you two have spent together. This helps your perspective to move away from the present negativity and shifts it to times that were simpler and happier. 

During rough patches, it’s hard to feel affection and attraction for your partner. But when you remember the more special days in your relationship, it becomes easier to feel your love for them again. It helps you see your partner from a perspective that’s removed from the present negativity and is relatively more objective.

On remembering the past times, Gopa says, “It helps to add humor and laughter to the marriage, to use kind words and endearments, and to go on dates and vacations often to create new memories. Make it a point to compliment one another and to find one thing positive about their spouse daily to remind themselves why the marriage is worth holding on to. It’s important to focus on the emotional connection and further strengthen it.”

7. Identify your issues as well

It’s not always the other person who has issues in their personality that needs to be rectified. Sometimes, it’s us who are the reason behind the ongoing fights in the relationship, which is why it’s necessary that you try to objectively assess the causes of the conflicts between you two. When going through the hardest months in a relationship, simply try to take a step back and see if it’s not you who needs to do better and improve. Maybe there are boundaries you need to make your relationship stronger and more comfortable.

Gopa suggests, “Each one contributes to either the success or failure of their marriage. Start introspecting on how you contribute to the success or problems in your marriage. For e.g: Are you an angry person and are constantly arguing? Can you learn not to escalate arguments and focus on problem-solving instead? Couples should be encouraged to look at individual and couples counseling to get their marriage on track.”

In the end, I’d like to stress again the fact that this rough patch is a natural thing that often takes place in relationships. It’s important that you don’t lose sight of what’s important and make rash decisions in this moment of confusion.

Only when you think about everything in a calm state of mind, trying to understand your partner’s perspective as well, can you make it through these months. I hope these tips were helpful in helping you decide how to face this phase of your relationship together.