Subscribe To The Personal Growth Newsletter
Get your daily dose of improving yourself for the better in your inbox everyday!

11 Ways To Improve Tough Relationships

The fact is, relationships don’t always go smoothly. But that reality can be especially hard to stomach if you’re dealing with a rocky relationship with someone extremely close to you, such as a spouse or family member. Keep reading to get some tips for keeping your sanity and ensuring the relationship stays intact.

1.Don’t Take Things Personally

This can be a hard one to learn, but it’s important to try to resist the urge not to take things personally. Often people are going through hard times in life that aren’t directly related to you, yet they use you as a target while lashing out because it’s easy.

Instead of losing your cool and responding in kind when you’re being attacked, take a step back, breathe deeply and try to clear your head. Going for a walk to burn off excess steam could be especially helpful so you don’t say something you’d later regret.

2. Choose The High Road

Some people intentionally try to get you to engage with them over hot-button issues, and it can be very hard to resist.

That’s particularly true if you live with the individuals. When you find yourself caught in situations where family members or other loved ones seem to be trying their hardest to get under your skin and make you retaliate in bad ways, decide you’ll take the high road and ignore their efforts.

If plain ignorance doesn’t do the trick, try letting the individuals know that you have no interest in discussing certain matters right now and you won’t be open to doing so until everyone involved is calm and clear-headed.

3. Find It Within Yourself To Forgive

Sometimes it’s extremely difficult to reach a point where you’re ready to forgive someone, but it’s important to at least make the effort. Keep in mind that no one is perfect, and forgiveness is a huge step you can take to show you understand that principle.

Also, remember that forgiving someone doesn’t necessarily mean forgetting about what they’ve done.

It just indicates you’re willing and able to move past it.

4. Understand That Complete Agreement May Be Impossible

People often want to get to the point where they can completely agree on things, but that’s not always a feasible outcome.

That’s particularly true in relation to things that people often have very strong opinions about, like politics and religion.

Instead of being intent on getting another person to agree with your viewpoint or thinking that somehow you’ll be able to agree with theirs, realize that the best you can do may be to just come to an agreement that you’ll have differing opinions and that’s okay. In other words, you agree to disagree.

5. Know You Cannot Change Someone

Maybe a person you know has more than a few annoying habits and you think that if you could just spend enough time around them, you’d influence them enough to make permanent changes.

Sometimes that does happen, but only if that person makes their own choice to change.

You can’t force a person to change, nor expect them to do it based upon the things you do or say. The decision to enact true change has to come from the person themselves, not from outside sources.

6. Practice Active Listening

Active listening involves indicating understanding by repeating back the things you hear another person say to verify you’ve heard correctly.

Nodding your head or saying, “Mm-hmm” can also help because it shows you are paying attention to what someone is saying and not just letting the information go in one ear and out the other.

As far as checking your own comprehension, try saying things like “What I hear you saying is…” and repeat what a person has said to you, but use your own words.

This technique can minimize misunderstandings and improve overall clarity, which may mean you have fewer disagreements.

7. Realize You Can’t Always Be Assertive

It can be very tempting to try to prove a person wrong or immediately try to clarify the things they are saying about you that are incorrect. However, there may be times when doing so is simply inappropriate.

For example, if you’re sitting around the dinner table at Thanksgiving and a family member tries to start spreading lies about you, it’s not a good idea to assert that they are wrong right then and there.

Doing so would probably disrupt the whole dinner and maybe make people so uncomfortable that they want to leave.

In those kinds of instances, it’s better to say something like “I don’t want to talk about this while everyone is trying to eat, but I’m happy to discuss it later.”

That approach means you won’t get used as a human doormat, but it doesn’t create unnecessary strain for people who may not want to get dragged into the family drama.

8. Keep Lines Of Communication Open

There may be instances when a person is so upset that they cut you off and say they will never talk to you again.

Even if that happens, aim to always remain willing to accept them back into your life again.

Remember what was mentioned earlier about how some people lash out at others even if those individuals aren’t the direct causes of their discontent.

Indeed, you may be cut off because of a reason that does directly relate to you or something you did, but it’s also possible that a person is choosing to cease communications with you because of something that’s not your fault at all.

This scenario is unfortunate, but it does happen.

9. Determine If Mental Illness Is To Blame

If a person is mentally unwell, they may be even more likely to say or do hurtful things.

The important thing to remember in that case is that during a flare-up, the pull of mental illness may be so strong that it completely conceals the person you know them to be.

To keep yourself calm during these ordeals, remind yourself that mental illness is what’s causing this to happen and you are not the root cause.

10. Practice Patience

Interpersonal improvements take time to happen, even when you’re very motivated to push things in the right direction.

Shape your perspective correctly and realize that months or even years may pass before you see lasting changes.

Even if it seems like changes are happening too slowly or not at all, practice patience as much as possible.

Eventually, you may be a positive influence on the other person and cause them to display more patience too.

11. Protect Yourself

If you feel in danger while trying to communicate with someone you love, keep your own well-being in mind.

That may mean choosing to only commit to phone or internet-based conversations for the time being.

This strategy might be necessary if there is a history of abusive behavior from the person you’re trying to talk with.

Hopefully, these tips and principles give you hope and courage as you deal with difficult loved ones.

Engaging with them may be challenging, but it’s also probably worthwhile.

Table Of Contents

Katherine Hurst
By Lisa Harris
Lisa Harris is a qualified relationship and friendship coach. After studying in California, she started up her own friendship building business, where she helps clients to reconnect with others, making companions so that they no longer feel lonely. Lisa is passionate about helping others find happiness with a large client base of people that have made friends for life.

Join the Conversation

Personal Growth logo
Daily personal growth affirmations, words of wisdom and articles sent straight to your inbox every day...
© 2012-2023 | Greater Minds Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
Personal Growth is for informational purpose only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content and images found on may not be reproduced or distributed, unless permitted in writing by Greater Minds Ltd.