The couples struggle is a common problem
One of the most common enquiries I get is for couples counselling. It would appear that anxiety and relationship problems are affecting so many lives. These are the two problems that tend to show up most in my therapy office. This brief article will highlight some of the common relationship problems couples experience. It will explore the signs that the couples are struggling with their relationship. And it will offer some ideas about how to solve their relationship problems without breaking up.
Relationship problems are normal
It is worthwhile reminding oneself that it is normal to experience difficulties in your relationship. This surprises many.
The honeymoon phase comes to an end normally between one and 3 years after the relationship begins. After this phase, most couples encounter phase two - the power struggle.
There may be some signs and indicators that you are experiencing relationship problems in this very difficult phase two.
Signs of relationship problems
There may be some typical signs of when there are difficulties in your relationship. These include:
- Communication may be minimal and might be negative.
- Differences are criticised rather than appreciating that each partner has a valid view.
- Couples may find that they are spending less time together and also having less fun together.
- Arguments are frequent, with the same triggers and frustrations recurring without being resolved.
- It could be that one partner indicates that they are not happy and that they feel the relationship is in trouble.
Another sign of a problem in the relationship is when the couple is unable to listen to each other, not able to hear the other person’s perspective. This inability to discuss relationship problems often leads to the issues remaining unresolved for many years. The danger is that couples get used to finding other ways to manage their hurt and pain.
Sometimes these relationship problems mentioned above can lead to more serious difficulties. These might involve affairs and betrayals or even separation and divorce. I call these ways of coping, ‘exits’.
‘Exits’ are ways the partner ‘leaves’ the relationship without working on sorting out the problem with their spouse or partner. ‘Exits’ drain energy from the relationship. And they lead to further and often bigger problems that become even more difficult to resolve.
How to solve relationship problems without breaking up
Unfortunately, the separation and divorce rates are extremely high. Research says that these days over 50% of couples end up divorced or separated.
I normally explain to couples that there is another option rather than separating. That option is to work very hard on building their relationship connection. Like anything, to have success in an area of one’s life, one needs to invest time and effort. So too, our relationships require time, effort and thought for them to be successful.
It can be helpful to take time to focus on what is good about one’s partner. Then taking time to put these appreciations into words, sharing them with your partner. Gratitude and appreciation I believe is an area that can make a huge difference in improving a relationship.
Many couples stop having fun together due to various commitments. It can be helpful to make a weekly time to have fun, doing enjoyable things. Many couples try and have a weekly date night. Making time to listen and share is of course a very important way to begin solving difficulties and problems in the relationship.
An exercise I sometimes suggest to couples is to have daily ‘talking time’ where each partner gets 10 minutes to say whatever is on their head and heart. The other partner just listens without interrupting or disagreeing.
Can others help improve your relationship?
So, in conclusion, it is normal for couples to struggle and have problems arise in their relationship. There are some common signs of relationship difficulties. Fortunately, there are ways to improve the relationship. Sometimes the couple may need some outside help such as couples counselling or relationship coaching.
Who to talk to about relationship problems?
Couples counselling is ideal for addressing relationship issues in a safe space. I try and provide a therapeutic space for the couples I work with to learn how to reconnect with their other half lovingly and compassionately. The couple learns how to talk and listen to each other without any shame, blame or criticism. They also learn how to focus once again on the positive, fun, enjoyable parts of the relationship that first attracted them to their partner.
Most couples leave it far too late to get help for their relationship problems.
Be in touch to discuss the various online and in-person options to get your relationship back on track.