As a Houston relationship therapist, I’ve known quite a few people who’ve told me that their relationship was dying. Many of them simply want to give in to what feels like inevitability and let the relationship end. After all, the popular philosophy is that you shouldn’t have to try so hard in a relationship that’s meant to last. Why not simply move on and start over?

The first question I ask couples who hit me with this rationale is: why are you coming to me for marriage help if you both want the relationship to end? At that point, most tell me that they still love each other but the relationship has turned into a constant battle where they’re unintentionally hurting the other person and fighting over things that both of them know don’t really matter. They want it to work but it’s just not.

My advice: relationships die because we let them. If you want it to work, you have to make it work.

Houston Relationship Therapist: Relationships Die Because We Let Them

No one likes being in a relationship with someone where they are fighting and feeling awful all the time, but there’s a reason that we fight—and very often it has little to do with the fight itself!

What it comes down to is that contrary to popular opinion, relationships are work. Most people involved in long-term relationships will drift apart over time because that’s just what happens in life. That leads to feelings of disconnection, which cause anger, frustration, disappointment, and fighting.

How do you get rid of those feelings? By replacing them with positive interactions.

Human beings are needy and sensitive, and we want to feel like the person we’re with truly cares about us and is connected to us in a deep way. That means time and effort. The best marriage help? Kiss and touch more. Go on dates. Send the kids to the grandparents for the weekend and enjoy each other. Give compliments.

If time is an issue (and when isn’t it one?), find small ways to connect like sending flirtatious texts and emails, bringing home a flower, massaging each other, or doing the dishes so your significant other can luxuriate in a bath.

Houston Relationship Therapist: It’s About Putting in the Effort

More than anything, what will save your dying relationship is the simple act of trying. You fight because you’re trapped in a negative spiral so you need to work hard to make your positive interactions outnumber your negative ones. You may not think you have time to work on your relationship but if you don’t, you won’t have one to work on. For more advice, talk to the Houston relationship therapist.