Humans are social animals, and relationships are vital for our well-being. However, even if we are born to bond with others, we don’t always know how to manage relationships perfectly.
Financial arguments, trust problems, intimacy, and even screen time of one of the partners are all the most common relationship issues couples face. Whatever the reason for your relationship problems, they all feel very overwhelming and can deeply affect your couple.
Luckily, with a little bit of knowledge, patience, and effort from both sides, every couple is capable of sorting things out.
While patience and motivation all depend on you, this article can provide you with a little bit more understanding of how power couples work through difficult times.
Facing the Problem
While it might seem obvious, not talking about the problem honestly and openly can’t create opportunities for resolving it. Many relationship issues circle around repeated topics just because the couple is unready to face them.
“What if I hurt my partner?” This question stops many from being as open as they would like to. However, the relationship is not about one person taking responsibility for everything. If something touches both of you, talking about it will create an opportunity for your partner to show that they also care about not hurting you.
Choosing a safe and relaxing environment, such as your favorite spot in the park or cuddling on the couch, may help you open up. Some couples find that touching or hugging each other helps talk about difficult things.
The conversation doesn’t have to start from the main problem; you can approach it by making sure you love your partner but would like to discuss one thing that is making you uncomfortable.
However, if the problem is complicated to talk about or often appears in the middle of an argument that seems never to end, reaching for additional support might be an option.
In-person therapy, or a more comfortable alternative, online therapy, can help the couple share painful experiences. Topics such as infidelity, grief, or relationship problems caused by mental health problems, like depression or ADHD, can all be discussed during therapy.
On the other hand, if you are ready to face the problem but are afraid of an argument that might follow, learning some new conflict management skills is what you might be looking for.
Learning to Argue Skillfully
It’s hard to control your emotions in the heat of a conversation. However, arguments often ruin a perfect opportunity to solve the problem. While it might seem that expressing your thoughts will finally help the other see that you are right, or at least that they are wrong blaming you, arguments actually make both sides more categorical.
Instead of arguing the old way, focusing on the problem throughout the conversation can help you manage the conflict more effectively. Anger often masks other painful emotions such as hurt or fear. Taking time to identify what you are feeling and why will allow you to find a solution instead of calling names and blaming.
Blame is one of the most common elements of every argument. Training yourself to complain without blame can take some time, but it will have a great effect later on. For example, instead of saying: “You never plan things, that’s why this holiday is a tragedy,” you can try to focus on the problem instead: “The lack of structure makes me feel anxious that we are just wasting our time.”
However, if you feel like you or your partner can’t seem to control yourself during arguments, anger therapy is a great tool to learn how to overcome one’s emotions. Online therapy can offer anonymous support for those who would like to get help but feel ashamed to talk about it.
The conversation is never a monolog. However, we often react to others’ words without actually perceiving what they are saying. Without genuinely listening to our partner, we lose an opportunity to find what might be lying under the problems we are facing. We might even discourage them from talking out their true thoughts.
Luckily, listening is a skill that can be mastered. Listening actively means focusing on what a person is saying without doing something in the meantime, such as looking at your phone or even thinking about what to respond.
Adapting active listening requires some self-awareness, not to mention listening all the time can actually be very boring. But learning how to listen and using it in the important moments is the essence of empathy of deeper intimacy in the relationship.
It’s all moonlight and roses at the beginning of the relationship. However, as time goes by, holding bare hands during winter may not seem so romantic anymore.
It’s completely normal. Our minds and bodies pass the stages of a relationship. As the thrill fades, less dopamine is released in the brain, making us prefer everyday comfort over signs of love.
Despite this, maintaining emotional and physical intimacy is important for a romantic relationship. If you feel close just sitting comfortably at the different sides of the couch watching your favorite show, that’s basically all you need to keep doing. But if one of you is longing for something, there are several simple things to try.
According to psychologists, holding hands, hugging, and touching each other release feel-good hormones. It reduces stress, improves your mental health, and strengthens your bond.
You can also foster intimacy by nurturing your sex life. Plan your week to include some special time. Or learn what really turns on you and your partner by making a list or trying out an app for that. If you have already tried everything, online therapy might also be a solution as it can offer limited face-to-face contact, complete privacy, or even anonymity that will make it easier to share your problems.
Nonetheless, deeper intimacy is impossible without sufficient emotional connection. Feeling safe in the relationship and being able to express all the feelings knowing that the partner will value them is an essential part of it. However, some couples might struggle with it as old wounds and unresolved conflicts get in the way.
If that is the case, therapy for relationship issues can help. It can create a safe environment to share whatever painful feelings partners might have and make sure that the other part will hear them out.
Creating a Loving and Safe Environment
Intimacy is not the only way to feel good together and decrease the number of relationship issues. Having a bond that increases emotional well-being and creates a home that feels good to return to is what makes space to manage relationship problems without pain.
But how to create a bond where both partners are ready to listen and prioritize each other instead of solving the issue in their own way? It depends a lot on the couple. For some, it’s making sure that their partner always feels secure or valued. For others, it’s spending time together or going on adventures to overcome challenges together.
Emotional connection can change with time and react to changes the couple experience. You, for example, can have less time to take care of each other after a baby or when you get a promotion. Talking with your partner from time to time about what you two might be missing to feel best is a great place to start if you haven’t done that yet.
However, for some people, the emotional difficulties lie under their life problems and mental health rather than the relationship itself. If a person doesn’t have a secure attachment style or lives with a person who struggles with mental illness, such as a bipolar spouse, it might be challenging to fulfill everyone's emotional needs.
Educating yourself how to support each other when a person is going through a difficult period of life and seeking support when necessary can prevent more serious problems in the future.
Not Allowing the Problem to the Root
Like with any kind of challenge, the longer you ignore it, the more complicated it becomes. It might be unpleasant to talk about relationship issues such as rebuilding trust or facing any other painful problem. However, if you bottle up your feelings and problems, they still impact the relationship later on.
It’s important to take time to listen and validate each other's feelings. If you do that shortly after the argument, you will avoid making each other feel misunderstood or even unvalued.
Trust issues in a relationship, financial problems, or parenting differences are all deep-rooted problems that may become long-lasting.
If you can't have productive arguments about your issues and both parties end up hurt, it might be time to reconsider the relationship or seek additional help.
Not Expecting the Specific Change
When you approach relationship issues, especially when it’s greatly impacting you, you might expect the partner or the situation to change. After all, you are reading this article because you want changes. However, improvements may not always come fast or in the form of what you expect them to.
Every person is unique and has different needs, worldviews and expectations. If you feel that the problem should be solved one way, but another person doesn’t see your point, you might not be able to implement these changes effectively.
Even if you rightfully expect improvement, for example, you suffer from narcissistic abuse or have a relationship with a person who has an addiction, getting someone to change for you might be impossible because a person needs to have strong internal motivation to change and improve.
Working on Your Relationship
We often experience relationships as a necessity, but in reality, it’s hard work in which both partners should be willing to contribute. If you want to learn how to deal with relationship problems, you first need to equip yourself with self-control, reflection, and willingness to compromise.
However, sometimes even this might not be enough. If you feel stuck with a problem that causes constant arguments, is too painful to handle alone, or is affected by the things you can’t solve fast, such as mental health issues, it might also be beneficial to reconsider the relationship or seek help.
In-person therapy or online counseling for relationship issues can help couples open up about their problems in a safe, non-judgmental space. Relationship therapists have years of experience and know what two people need to do to maintain a lasting and healthy love.
At the end of the day, a bond that helps you sail through life fulfills your personal needs and also challenges you to grow is what healthy relationships are all about.