Relationships are not always fireworks and joy; sometimes they are challenging or go through some tricky stages. All relationships can have minor disagreements – after all we are all different and have different ideas and opinions. It is problematic however, if minor conflicts become cyclical (i.e., are never resolved) or become major conflicts, as then the relationship can be strained to the point of non-repair. It is important to work together to resolve these issues. In this blog, we will look at some of the common issues that couples face and some ways for how to deal with them.
Communication is a primary factor in any relationship. Lack of communication or poor communication can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts. For couples who have poor communication, often one or both individuals feel unheard and misunderstood, potentially leading to feelings of frustration, resentment, and anger. Effective communication can be learnt and incorporates actively listening to the other and expressing thoughts and feelings in a clear and respectful manner. This includes the use of “I” statements, which takes responsibility for our own feelings; for example, “I was annoyed that we were running late”. It is also important to set aside time to talk and connect with each other – organising regular “date nights/days” is a good way of doing this and sets the tone that the relationship is important and needs consistent connection.
Trust is the foundation of any healthy relationship. When trust is broken, it can be difficult to repair. Trust issues can arise due to past experiences, such as infidelity or dishonesty, including in the current and in past relationships. Trust issues can also be due to insecurities or lack of self-confidence. Building trust takes work and it is important that couples are honest and transparent with each other and communicate openly about their feelings and concerns. It is also important to be consistent in words and actions. This will help to build a sense of security and trust in the relationship. This is particularly important after infidelity by one individual of a couple – more transparency is important in the interim (e.g., being honest about movements and checking-in more regularly for a period of time).
Similar to trust, building respect in a relationship takes time and effort from both partners and forms an important foundation in a relationship. In addition to effective communication and trust, respect involves having empathy for each other – being able to understand the other’s perspective and be supportive and understanding of the other’s feelings, even if you don’t always agree with them. Having independence within a relationship is vital; while it is important to have shared interests and goals, having your own interests that are outside the relationship is equally important. Encourage the other to do the same and allow each other time and space to pursue those individual pursuits. Showing appreciation for your partner also helps to build respect. It is healthy to acknowledge the individuality, qualities, and accomplishments of the other, increasing mutual respect.
Money is a common source of conflict in relationships. There may be differences in financial goals and/or spending habits. And financial strain adds to relationship stress. Couples need to communicate and be open and honest about their finances and their goals. A workable budget is a good start – we might suggest that couples share expenses on an earnings-percentage basis, given a vast disparity in earnings. Couples might have joint financial goals, or each individual might have individual goals. Whatever the case, working out how each can contribute and be responsible and accountable for the finances goes a long towards resolving financial problems.
Every relationship is unique, and consequently faces different challenges. However, by learning to communicate effectively, build trust and respect, and resolve problems, the minor issues don’t need to get bigger. If your relationship is a little stuck, or just needs a tune-up, don’t hesitate to get in touch by calling 0753296991. Psychology ONE has clinicians trained in relationship counselling ready to assist in person or online.