4 Steps to H-E-A-L your Relationship when it goes Off track

4 Steps to H-E-A-L your Relationship when it goes Off track


Even the strongest relationships get off track sometimes, because of the stresses of living,  mismatches in expectations or either of us being triggered from wounds from the past.

Melanie Greenberg has developed a simple 4 step  H-E-A-L  (Hear – Empathize – Act – Love) technique to repair damaged relationships by replacing defensive self-protection with compassionate presence and loving connection.

HEAR – To Hear Your Partner, Stay Present & Listen

When your partner speaks, make an effort to stay mentally present & listen. Open your heart and take down your defenses. It’s not about defending yourself, but about trying to understand your partner & learning to fulfill each other’s needs.

Listen beyond his/her words for nonverbal signs of emotion. Does he/she have an angry expression on his/ her face or sadness in his/her eyes? Is his/her body language open and reaching towards you or closed off and guarded?

What do you think your partner is feeling? What are the needs he/she has that are not being met (such as for love, companionship, understanding, control,or respect)?

The best way to soothe an angry spouse is to let him know that you hear and & accept his/her unmet needs and are willing to make changes to help meet them.

EMPATHIZE – Allow Your Partner’s Experience to Deeply Affect you

Once you think you understand what your partner feels and have checked it out with him, pay attention to what feelings YOU have when you observe him feeling this way.

It is especially important to search beneath the surface for the softer, tender feelings. My clients often express anger when what lies underneath is feeling stuck, sad, or lonely.

Can you stay present with your partner, and connect with his/her deeper experience, perhaps feeling pain because he/she is in pain?

Can you feel compassion, and let him/her know that his/her expression of pain or anger affects you deeply?

Your first instinct in hearing your partner’s distress may be to try to solve the problem or give advice. Often this advice comes across as critical or judgmental, which makes things worse.

On the other hand, staying emotionally engaged and expressing compassion can provide healing comfort and connection. Many times, that is all he/she needs.

ACT – Take Action to Address Concerns & Show Willingness to Change

The next step is to commit to intentional action to address your partner’s needs and concerns.

These actions can range from helping more with the dishes to calling your partner during the day to let him/her know you are thinking of him/her, to spending less money because it makes her/him anxious.

When your partner sees that you take his/her concerns seriously, he/she will be more likely to feel valued and respected.

This can create a positive cycle in which he/she appreciates you and feels more loving towards you.

You don’t have to be perfect at it – just the fact that you care and are trying to change is enough to help most people feel validated.

 LOVE – Feel and Express Unconditional Love

Make space in your life to deliberately reconnect with the loving feelings you have for your partner, even if recent interactions have made you feel distant or angry.

Think about the good qualities he/she has that originally attracted you to him/her.  Perhaps look at old photos or visualize special times in your relationship and the hopes and dreams you had together.

Can you find a way to forgive yourself and your partner for the mistakes you have both made that got you off track? What do these feelings of love motivate you to do? Might you want to reach out to him/her and express your love and affection physically or with action, such as cooking a meal or writing a note?

Love is defined as a concern for another’s wellbeing and a warm feeling you have towards another. Do not make your expressions of love contingent on what your partner does, but rather reach out and express unconditional caring, support, understanding and forgiveness.

If there are unresolved trust issues that hamper your ability to love your partner freely, think about the next steps you could take to air these issues and what it would take to rebuild trust.


Contrary to the way relationships are portrayed in the movies, they are not all sunsets and roses. A better analogy is that of an ever-changing, complicated dance.

When two people come together with different life histories, sensitivities, and current stresses, you are bound to bump up against each other or get blown off track over the course of a many-year relationship.

Repair your relationship using the H-E-A-L technique. By Hearing, Empathizing, Acting to Change, & Loving, you are actively reaching for your partner and letting them know that they matter and you care. This should create HEALING energy to move your relationship back to health.

If you need further help with any of these techniques, give us a ring and book in for a relationship counselling session.

More on why our relationship not go the way we want them to in in our next blog.

Warmest regards


Is Distance the new Closeness?

Absence does makes the heart grow fonder, but  does geographical distance increase romantic closeness?


Usually we imagine that we need to live relatively close to each other and see each other often to develop a close romantic relationship.

However, a growing body of research by Aaron Ben-Zeez in the US indicates otherwise: His research has found that long-distance relationships often have an equal or greater value in maintaining and promoting romantic relationships.

So, is living apart together better than living together?


Closeness and romantic relationships

Closeness is a crucial element that determines the  emotional intensity we feel with a partner, and we certainly need to have a certain amount of physical closeness to develop an intimate and emotionally connected connection. And love includes the wish to become as close as possible to the person we love.

But, despite this, there are now increasing numbers of romantic couples who live at a geographical distance from each other.

Take the example of what Aaron calls the Commuter marriage. A commuter marriage is a relationship between people who are married and intend to remain so, but nevertheless live apart, usually because of the locations of their jobs, educational demands, and dual-career pursuits. They travel regularly in order to be together, often on weekends but sometimes less frequently. These kind of distant relationships are now a growing form of romantic relationships.

Phone calls, videos, instant messaging, texting, and e-mails allow you to communicate immediately in order to sustain a continuous meaningful romantic relationship despite the geographical distance.

The increase in distant romantic relationships can be largely due to the increased value placed on personal flourishing in romantic relationships, as well as in marriage.


The importance of Personal flourishing

In his book, Passionate marriage, David Schnarch talked about 2 models of Intimacy: other-validated intimacy and  self-validated intimacy.

When we are wanting other-validated intimacy we are seeking acceptance, empathy, validation, and reciprocal disclosure from our partner. This is indeed great and part of a healthy relationship, but there is also self validated intimacy which relies on each person maintaining his or her own autonomy and self-worth.

This style involves the ability to maintain your sense of self while in close contact with the partner (who may or may not be validating you).


Self Flourishing & Joint Flourishing

Enter Self Flourishing (a larger emphasis on yourself and your own development as a person) and  … Joint flourishing where love is the wish to flourish together with a flourishing partner for many years.

When personal flourishing is at the center of the romantic relationship and marriage, the geographical closeness to the partner becomes of less importance. 


What is the romantic value of distant relationships?

“Relationship at a distance can do things for the heart that a closer, day-to-day companionship cannot.” Thomas Moore

“Absence diminishes mediocre passions and increases great ones, as the wind extinguishes candles and fans fires.” François de La Rochefoucauld

Some kind of distance, providing a greater personal space and enabling greater personal flourishing, can be advantageous for our personal relationship. Having said that, too much distance may harm the relationship.

We all need to find the right balance of freedom to be ourself, and connectedness with our partner, and we don’t have to live a physical distance away from our partner to experience this. It may just be that we both make the time to do our own thing, while still living in the same house.

So that when we come back together, we have something new to bring back to our partner, bringing a freshness that often isn’t there when you spend almost all your time together.

It your relationship has got the blahs or your bored with too much togetherness,  give us a ring and book in for a relationship counselling session and we can help you get the spark back again.

More on 4 steps to heal your relationship in our next blog.

Warmest regards