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8 Courageous Ways to Improve a Stagnant Relationship


Every relationship has its ups and downs but if it stays down and loses it’s excitement, that is a stagnant relationship. Times that seem less fruitful and fun than the beginning. The trick to a healthy relationship is learning how to have a healthy mindset towards both the good and bad times so that when the hard times and crisis hit, you both can navigate through together, successfully. 

However, truth be known, many of us were not born into a life understanding what a healthy relationship even is. Some of us have never even been in a loving relationship with anyone. It can be quite difficult to understand your heart hurts, but not how to fix it in a healthy way. 

So if you find yourself in a stagnant relationship wondering how to get the love back and you feel like you’re banging your head against the wall, this article will help guide you on some things you can look at differently and try adopting to heal yourself, your life, and your relationship while retaining autonomy and freedom.  

Table of Contents

1. Assess what your partner is doing right in the stagnant relationship and practice gratitude

In what ways are they contributing to this relationship? Do they help around the house? Get groceries? Cook? Share the dating tabs? How can you show them more appreciation for the things they are doing right? I know it might sound counterproductive to focus on things they’re already doing right, but if you only focus on what is wrong because of your own emotional pain, they are going to feel like there is no point in doing anything else. They may feel you still won’t be happy no matter what they do. 

Positive reinforcement is something all humans love. We all want love and appreciation because we know we’re not perfect. Positive reinforcement is much more motivating in a relationship. It makes it easier to hear constructive criticism if someone undoubtedly knows you love them. But if they’re in doubt, it will be hard for them to hear you.

Were they shut down like this in the beginning of the relationship? If not, then there is hope of recovering that person you initially fell in love with. It’s just going to take a lot of patience and love to resurrect these previous versions of yourselves that were a lot happier then. 

Can you remember why you were so happy before it became a stagnant relationship? Can you brainstorm how to bring that love and joy forward to now through emotional presence? Gratitude is a great place to start. Forgiveness for yourself and them is another great one. This is the kind of work you’ll need to do to resuscitate the relationship. Be the person they originally met in the beginning in your spirit towards them, even when they’re not showing up to your expectations.

2. Maybe traditional relationship therapy isn’t always the answer anymore

Times have really changed since the internet took off. And this has also changed many industries like traditional therapy. Now we have the entire internet to help us with things like a stagnant relationship. And many prefer this over going to an office and dealing with the limitations of just one single therapist’s perspective. Because we are so diverse, the answers we need to our problems can be diverse, and many therapists just aren’t trained that way. 

If your partner is disinterested in traditional therapy, perhaps try asking if they’d be interested in self development and learning about having a healthy relationship through their own intuitive directive? And then both of you working on a plan, with goals, to improve the stagnant relationship. 

There are many books, websites, and even relationship coaches to help guide you both to your best versions of yourselves, and in a relationship. 

So the question is, does your partner feel compelled to improve their quality of life this way? Would they be willing to work on themselves and the relationship with you? If you both want better, then there is no reason you can’t both achieve this through the self development journey.

Find well-reviewed books on subjects that pertain to your stagnant relationship and make a point to read them together. Find interesting online courses, free videos, and websites to keep supplementing your commitment to improve. Make it fun for the both of you though. Perhaps throw in some studies about Tantric sex or something similar to keep the relationship spicy and sexually healthy if possible. If not, it’s okay to wait for that to happen when the foundation has been re-established.

But the more joy you can put into rekindling the love and friendship, the more likely you will be successful in recovering the stagnant relationship. What are some things you both loved to do in the beginning when you first met? What are some new things you both would be excited to try? How can you invite play in on a daily basis?

3. Take a step back and breathe from your stagnant relationship

It usually takes two to make a stagnant relationship. At some point along the way, we all start getting caught up in the stresses of life and we forget how to be those people at the beginning when we were putting our best foot forward for the one we loved. And, we sometimes are too forgiving in areas where we should have had tighter boundaries.

Life is tough when we are raised in a toxic society and fighting for what we want, like healthy relationships, but also battling the unrelenting demands of day to day life. Sometimes just understanding that we’re all doing our best and (hopefully trying to heal) can help us take a deep breath and a step back to give each other a little grace and room. Try not to grip it so tight.

Especially if you’re both stressed and at capacity. You will get way more accomplished by learning the art of breathing and letting go. Unless it is some sort of crisis, you can take a step back from all the intensity and just breathe. And do this over and over again until it becomes a habitual response to everything in your life for best overall results. This can go a long way in a stagnant relationship, and the person you’re with my sigh with relief!

4. Be a leader and take initiative over your own happiness

Take the initiative. Work on making yourself happy with or without others needing to affirm this for you and without resentment or malice. If you’re at a place where you’re already thinking of leaving your stagnant relationship anyway, you could try to just give your partner emotional space first and see how that works out. 

Again, this is a fine line of leaving them be, without abandoning them emotionally. The goal here is finding love, compassion, kindness and emotional space to breathe for both of you.  That starts with yourself and as much as you can extend out to your partner.

No one can get anything done under extreme amounts of pressure. Most of us put the most pressure on ourselves, and then when we aren’t “behaving well” others come along and pour even more pressure on us in places we are already struggling. Nowadays, we’re all valid and justified in both our trauma and regular life stress, which makes it difficult to place blame with any amount of integrity. Most people are dealing with way more than they talk about openly.

When we become responsible for ourselves instead of trying to blame or fix the other person, we become leaders in our own lives and that can change a stagnant relationship. We get our personal power back and realize that we can in fact find solutions to make ourselves happy and functional with or without other people. One functional person in a relationship is better than none. Be the first to step up and stand up.

The additional bonus is if people around you are struggling to understand how to do this in their own lives, you become a healthy role model in a sick world. Just by you focusing on yourself, you make it easier for your partner to come around back to that person they were before the relationship started to go stagnant. And truth be told, all of us want to be that happy person we are deep down under all that stress and trauma.

But you shouldn’t do this to get your partner to do what you want. You should do it because you believe in a better world and you believe in leading in that better vision. You do it because you believe in walking your talk so actual changes can start to happen. Not because you want your partner to love you again or more. No one should be another person’s ends to a means. For this we must practice being altruistic in our emotional bonds with each other. And the beauty of it, is this kind of energy can revive a stagnant relationship naturally and without forcing anyone else to do anything. A natural, free-will relationship is way more exciting than a forced and controlled one.

5. To help a stagnant relationship, change yourself first, and then see if they want to come with you

Stop asking for things from your partner and do them for yourself and kids (if applicable). But find joy in that and in your life, as if you were single and happy.  I’m not saying be single, but we often can adjust our internal compass quite quickly when we go back to single status and must take care of our own selves. As in being more emotionally independent and self sufficient. When we adopt that energy, it can be exciting again, and open up a stagnant relationship to better things.

Please understand I’m not saying do unethical things in your relationship. Do not cheat physically or emotionally with other people. Just try to get in the energy of independence enough to relieve some pressure in the relationship. Back off a bit to get some objectivity on the problems. Don’t abandon the stagnant relationship. Just let it breathe.

This level of healthy independence is still relevant and important. Only now, it’s important to learn how to develop interdependence without relying on them in a co-dependent way. For instance, work on greeting your partner with warm smiles and acceptance just as they are because that’s who you are or are trying to become. With practice, their behavior doesn’t have to influence yours. You can act independently of them and not respond to patterns that enable the codependence or their emotional distance. Stay present and practice being okay with what is happening and let it breathe.

This sounds difficult because it might feel like giving in, but I would say that if they don’t respond to your kindness and sincere change of approach (and have no mental illness or toxic issues), then they probably want to move on or are still deciding what they want. So just let them go with love. 

At this place, it would be easier to part as friends anyway, because you’ve already been working on making yourself happy and forgiving them for wherever they’re at in their journey in life. We’re all on a spiritual journey making lots of mistakes and trying to find our way.

No amount of pressure was ever going to change their mind anyway and most likely would just push them  further away. But similarly, it’s okay if your happiness is having a person in your life who wants to meet you half way on all the responsibilities, be accountable, and treat you like the love of their life. If they don’t want to be that person, now you’ve made space for each other to move on amicably from a stagnant relationship.

The difference now is that you’re not upset with someone for not being who you want or need them to be. You’re giving them a choice now, not forcing your will. You’re not making them out to be bad or wrong for something they’re not feeling or wanting anymore. You’re giving them their freedom. 

Or, you’re cleaning up your side of the stagnant relationship and asking if they want to do the same and join you. Now you’re on equally respectful ground emotionally speaking. No one is controlling the other to do and be things they can’t do and be in this moment in their life. 

6. Change your relationship mindset

Your partner should not be your emotional life support even in a stagnant relationship. We should seek to make ourselves happy and then they become added joy in our lives. It is important to be interdependent with people, not co-dependent. 

However, because we live in a toxic society, many of us are raised in emotionally dysfunctional environments that cause us to either be too independent or too co-dependent. The trick is finding the balance between both through interdependence.

That is to say, we can’t make our partners and loved ones BE our happiness. We must first make ourselves happy and then whatever they bring is a bonus we don’t depend on, but is nice to have nonetheless. This concept of emotional interdependence has become almost extinct in our culture of reality TV and politics where people thrive on the drama of power struggles, competition and the entertainment of winners and losers. This is not a healthy mindset and causes a lot of destruction in our intimate relationships, friendships, and families. Sometimes resulting in stagnant relationships when that dynamic gets old.

And thus, it’s also a very foreign concept and hard to grasp how we can be healthier than the junk society presents us with. But as you practice relying on yourself to be emotionally stable, content and happy, you’ll start to understand through experience how to release people in healthy ways and invite more emotional freedom into both your lives and those around you.

If your partner truly loves you and is wanting the same things, then they will meet you half way and it is hella easier working on problems from this space of love and acceptance instead of one where you want them to breathe for both of you and fix all these problems. If you both learn to breathe on your own, support yourselves independent of each other, then you can both approach the stagnant relationship with love and solution-finding leadership together, as a team. And you become twice as powerful when moving toward your life goals.

7. Love and let go and see if they return

Either way, if you start working on making you happy in a stagnant relationship, and teaching your kids (if applicable) to be these ways, you’re still fulfilling your own needs with or without your partner. If they want to come along at some point, they become a bonus to your life not your life support. 

If they don’t and you need more, then you part ways peacefully and allow the both of you to move on to other people who are better matches. If they don’t come your way, you have not lost all that work you just put into yourself. You will carry this forward into your life in all your relationships, not just your romantic ones. 

And the ROI (return of investment) on this kind of leadership is invaluable. You will eventually find a partner who matches you in this sort of commitment and dedication to having healthy relationships in a toxic world.

If you want something very, very badly, let it go free.  If it comes back to you, it’s yours forever.  If it doesn’t, it was never yours to begin with.

8. Understand the world you live in

Something a lot of people don’t understand is that the world we live in is built on toxic and stagnant relationships now and from the past. Systemic abuse is rampant and alive just as it has been for hundreds of years. These issues we fight in our very intimate relationships are the extent of these toxic relationship views that have been passed down through the generations. 

They are reinforced by establishments like religion, politics, schools, work places, history, and mass media. These are not easy social norms to break down without recreating them somewhere else as all the groups before us have done so many times.

If we really want to see change in the world, we have to start right here where it’s most intimate. With ourselves and our loved ones. And we have to find a way to do it with love, compassion, empathy, emotional intelligence, communication, honesty, integrity and while also honoring each other’s freedom and autonomy. 

That is to say, we may do all the things right and the person still chooses to move on from a stagnant relationship. We do not have ownership of other people’s spiritual destiny and so the most loving thing we can do is let them go and seek it. 

Wish them happiness and know in doing that you will also find your own because love isn’t about forcing each other into boxes we don’t belong in. Love is freedom.

Conversely, if you’re in a relationship with a toxic person who is abusing you on any level, this information does not necessarily apply. The steps are much different to arrive here because you must transform. Leave this relationship and seek to love and heal yourself first.

Stagnant relationship advice Thich Nhat Hanh Soul Bitch Peace

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