What's A Relationship Reset And How Can You Approach Your Partner About One?

With Thanksgiving and Christmas engendering more splits than any other time of the year, January and February are usually the peak period for family law attorneys, per the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny. The reason being is that holidays allow people to really take time to reflect on their personal relationships. While self-searching moments help many couples; for others, they expose cracks that are beyond repairs (via The Washington Post).

The end of the year also marks the birth of New Year's resolutions — a chance to leave old and ugly things behind and move on to a new phase in life. For troubled couples who are only together because of the stifling weight of their shared history, the holiday acts as a catalyst for monumental changes. Some usher in the new year with breakup announcements, while others continue sitting on the fence. 

Since the New Year is the time to re-evaluate your life goals and set the tone for the rest of the year, it's the perfect time to reset your amorous entanglement. If you are in a funk as a couple, hitting the reset button may be the only way to stop nudging a rocky relationship toward a collapse. So, what's a relationship reset and how do you bring one about?

Re-evaluate your relationship

According to Relationships Australia NSW, a relationship reset is a process of cultivating, pruning, testing, or even putting an end to a relationship that's not working well for you. This is a way to refresh your relationship — if it's worth saving — or to make a clean break with the past and start anew. 

The first step of any relationship resetting process is to make a pros-and-cons list of what works and what doesn't. "List the positive things that the relationship brings to your life, but also the negatives," dating expert David Bennett tells TZR. For instance, the positives might be things like "he's a good listener," or "we never go to bed angry." Meanwhile, the negatives can be "I would like more appreciation," or "our arguments always end on a nasty, toxic note."    

Keep in mind that this is not the opportunity to keep a record of your partner's wrongs, but rather clashes in values and beliefs which you two can work on until you find the sweet spot. If you'll be pointing out your partner's flaws, acknowledge your inadequacies also. Taking a long, hard look at the sources of irritations in your relationship helps you iron out the kinks and give it a new lease of life should you choose to stay in it, Bennett explains. Having an awareness of your relationship dynamics enables you to be more intentional about how you interact with your partner and can nudge your behaviors onto a more constructive path.

Broach the topic with your partner

Once you've figured out what the missing ingredients in your love life are, vocalize them. It takes lots of courage to ask for what you want in life. "One of the signposts of a healthy relationship is feeling safe expressing your feelings and thoughts, and having those feelings heard and acknowledged," sexologist Devi Ward Erickson tells Bustle. There's no point in remaining in a relationship if you consider yourself unworthy of having your needs fulfilled. 

When it's time to talk, pick a time when neither of you is busy or stressed. Calmly and articulately, go through every point in the list. The key to being taken seriously is to use "I-statements," since they lessen hostility and give the impression that you are taking responsibility for your feelings, Tony Robbins points out. Meanwhile, "you-statements" force your partner on the defensive and cause the person to stonewall. For example, "I feel like we're drifting apart." is another way of saying "You have been giving me the silent treatment." 

After saying what you need to say, let your partner have the floor too. A relationship cuts both ways. If you want to be heard, hear your partner out. Toward the end of the conversation, you should be able to have a new direction for your relationship by setting measurable goals as a couple. Whether it is to spend more time together or stay apart, both of you must come up with and agree upon a solution.

Get counseling

Getting relationship counseling is a fantastic effort to reroute your relationship, especially when neither of you is an expert in communication. Relationship counseling involves a professional counselor, a psychologist, or a therapist who's professionally trained to help couples resolve the nitty-gritty of day-to-day conflicts that are causing harm to the relationship, per Associated Relationship & Marriage Counsellors. If you don't know how to set the next course of action for your relationship — how you should communicate with each other or whether you should move in together — a couples counselor can pinpoint the root of your challenges and help you come up with a solution. 

A good counselor can open your eyes to the lesser-seen sides of your partner and help both of you understand each other better. When you're in love, you can easily get bogged down in the finer points and blow them out of proportion. It takes an outsider to show you the bigger picture. "When couples come to counseling, these comforting feelings have often been replaced with pain, conflict, and a sense of isolation. Couples therapy provides a safe and supportive space to think about and explore the roots of this disconnection," relationship counselor Arabella Russell tells BACP. A relationship counselor is not an arbitrator who will tell you whether to split up. What they'll do is address the self-destructive patterns adopted by you and your partner, help you alter them, and guide you to a mutual decision on the fate of your relationship.

Spend time apart

After having a heart-to-heart conversation with your partner, taking a break is not the worst idea. A relationship timeout can be restorative for a struggling relationship, especially when the couple is always verbally aggressive toward each other, explains couples therapist Jason Polk to PsychCentral. A temporary reprieve from the current relationship allows each individual to check in with themself, reflect on what's happening, and come back with a different perspective. It's hard to make clear-headed decisions when you're fighting all the time.

Before taking a break, make sure you set boundaries and discuss in advance how the timeout will pan out, says matchmaker and dating coach Laura Bilotta to Global News. For instance, there should be no checking in with each other or seeing someone new during the break.

A break should last anywhere between one week to a month — that should be enough time for you to decide whether you should stay together or break off for good. If a break lasts longer than a month and nobody says a word, the break has become a breakup. A break is a time to reflect on and be honest about your feelings and your desires. If you feel relieved or deliriously happy over your newfound liberty instead of missing the person, it's a sign you should put a full stop to the relationship.

Learn to fall in love with each other again

When home and hearth no longer spark joy, make an effort to bring the spark back into the relationship. The key to rekindling romance is to relearn the five love languages, including words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service, and receiving gifts. No matter how busy you are, spend present time together without distractions getting in the way. When you're together, express affection through cuddling, kissing, and holding hands. As often as you can afford it, get your partner a little something that you know the person will like. It doesn't have to be expensive — just something that represents the appreciation you have for the person.

Remember what your courtship and honeymoon phase were like, and relive those giddy days again. "Noticing your partner, complimenting his or her appearance, or making random gestures of appreciation, will make the other feel more attractive and desirable, and likely increase desire," says psychotherapist Franklin Porter to Women's Health. If you make an effort, the other person will notice and respond in a similar manner.

Ostentatious acts of service aside, it's also important to remind your partner that you need them at the end of the day. One way to do that is to always carve out time to keep your partner in the loop with what's happening, what you care about, and that you love them and need them, sex therapist Ammanda Major tells The Guardian.