-Tarra Bates-Duford, PhD, MFT
Most couples will experience challenges during the course of a romantic relationship. However, some couples can navigate the challenges better than others. Couples that have built a strong foundation, maintain healthy communication, and remain committed to their partners as well as the relationship usually fair better than couples with a weak foundation and poor communication skills. Couples that can foresee issues in their relationship have a much better chance of overcoming them.
Although, every relationship has its ups and downs, successful couples have learned how to manage the bumps and keep both their love life and the relationship going. Persons with a healthy understanding of the requirements of a relationship will remain committed, tackle problems, and learn how to work through the complex issues of everyday life. Many do this by reading self-help books and articles, attending seminars, going to counseling, observing other successful couples, or simply using trial and error.
Unfortunately, even partners who love each other will have problems in their relationship. Couples that seemingly appear “perfect” can be mismatched, sexually. Sexual mismatch can include contrasts in sexual desire (one partner wanting sex more often than the other), differ in the type pf sex desired (oral, anal, role play, fetishes, etc.), and differences in each partner understanding of intimacy. When there is a lack of sexual self-awareness and education within a relationship, problems typically become more pronounced over time. Having a close, intimate, sexual relationship often brings us closer. The brain releases hormones that benefit our bodies both physically and mentally, allowing partners to build the chemistry needed for a healthy relationship.
11 Common Problems in a Romantic Relationship:
- Poor communication or lack of communication. Some couples have marked difficulty expressing their needs in a relationship, avoid talking about them altogether, or are unable to discuss issues in the relationship without becoming combative, defensive, or inappropriate.
- Trust. Lack of trust can undermine the very foundation of a relationship by creating or exacerbating pre-existing tension. Trust issues can include lack of faith in a partner’s decision making abilities or being around another man or woman and remaining faithful.
- Differences in sexual drives and desires. Many couples will experience a change in sexual frequency and desire as time passes. Family, career, social, and other demands can lead to a shift in priorities, creating additional demands that can affect sexual frequency and desire.
- Jealousy and insecurity. Insecure or partners that are jealous are often locked in a dysfunctional cycle anger and animosity. Unfortunately, when there is jealousy in a relationship it is difficult for couples to see past their current problems in a manner that would allow a resolution to the problems.
- Money. Money problems are one the most significant factors that can lead to relationship conflict and divorce. Differences in money management skills and styles can lead to a rift in a romantic relationship.
- Home responsibilities/chores. Partners that do not have a pre-existing agreement or understanding of personal roles and responsibilities within the home will experience problems in their romantic relationship. Partners that feel they are carrying the bulk of the responsibilities in the home often express feelings of being taken for granted, taken advantage of, or overwhelmed with the additional responsibilities.
- Change in priorities. Relationships are expected to enhance who we are as individuals, yet not change who we are at our core. Although, you may be in a relationship, that does not change who you are. As individuals, we evolve and change all the time. You’re not the person you were last year, and you won’t be the person you are now next year.
- Time. Change in time and availability can impact our romantic relationships in several different ways, i.e., one partner or both may not have enough time to devote to the other partner or the relationship as they once had, they may no longer spend quality time together, they do not have the time to catch up on their partner’s day or pertinent changes in their life, etc.
- Partners drift apart. When partners begin to spend less and less time together, they usually begin to explore interests separately. Some partners may conclude they may not need to be in the relationship anymore as they no longer feel a connection with their partner.
- Space and individual growth. Although, this appears to be contradictory to the earlier stated problems in a relationship, too much “togetherness” can lead to feelings of being stifled. When you’re in a committed relationship, spending time with each other is very important to maintaining a relationship. However, spending too much time away from each other can lead to a breakdown in communication, change in priorities, drift, etc.
- Falling out of love. Recognizing, acknowledging, and accepting we have fallen out of love with our partner can be a difficult issue to confront. Falling out of love in a relationship is the biggest problem we can face in a relationship, and one that’s hardest to overcome. Falling in love is easy. Staying in love isn’t.
15 Problem-Solving Strategies That can be Used to Improve Your Romantic Relationship:
- Do what you say and say what you mean
- Be consistent
- Be sensitive to your partners concerns and feelings
- Carry your fair share of the workload within the relationship and home
- Never say mean or malicious things to hurt your partner’s feelings, i.e., never say anything you cannot take back
- Don’t overreact when things go wrong.
- Do not ruminate on things you cannot change
- Don’t dig up old wounds
- Avoid talking about relationship problems when angry
- Do not lie or use misleading information
- Respect your partner’s boundaries
- Refrain from jealousy
- Communicate your feelings and issues appropriately
- Be an even better listener.
- Act fairly, even in an argument
Every relationship will experience setbacks and challenges, as no relationships can be perfect. However, that does not mean the relationship will not survive. Conflict and or problems in a romantic relationship are a natural, healthy, and expected part of building a connection with another person. By developing skills to resolve issues in a romantic relationship, you also develop effective techniques to manage future issues that may arise in the relationship. Healthy resolution of problems can lead to stronger, tighter bonds in the relationship.