Facing relationship issues together
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Graeme Orr MBACP(Accred), UKRCP Reg. Ind. Counsellor
2nd October, 2013
With the stress of modern life it comes as no surprise that most couples have relationship issues from time to time. Each partner in the relationship will have their own priorities, needs and wants, and these conflicting priorities are what ultimately appear as relationship issues. Indeed a big part of any relationship is getting to a shared understanding of the key issues for your lives together.
If we look at 4 common relationship issues:
- financial matters
- differing libidos
- spending time together
- children, relatives and in-laws.
We can begin to see where the relationship issues can happen. Perhaps one partner feels that the other spends too freely when you are struggling with a budget, and the other feels you are struggling to earn a crust so there needs to be some reward. Two opposing views so how do you compromise?
Differing libidos is one of the hardest relationship issues to resolve. If your partner’s sex drive is very different (higher or lower) you can be left with a situation where a there is a biological drive to do one thing and an emotional need (to be respectful of your partner) drive which pulls you back. There is so much expectation surrounding sex that it can be hard to discuss without either yourself or your partner feeling threatened.
When you first get together you want to spend every minute you can together. Gradually, real life comes along and there are more mundane tasks to be getting on with (shopping, work, friends and so forth). As a result, you spend less time together. That’s okay though you love each other and your partner understands that you are tired and so you both stop doing things (other than telly) together. This can introduce a set of relationship issues as you begin to lose that ‘thrill of the chase’ at the same time that you have stopped doing special things together to reaffirm lasting love.
Most counsellors would agree that the impact of children and relatives on a partnership can be one of the biggest causes of relationship issues. Step parents who feel that they cannot say anything about the behaviour of a partner’s children or in-laws who judge their son or daughter’s partner and are not subtle in keeping their opinion private. There are a variety of scenarios where something has a great impact on one partner and the other is left feeling they can't speak up - either because it isn’t their business or they don’t want to upset their partner. Yet the frustration bubbles away and bursts out.
Are there common practices that can address these relationship issues? In fact the simplest is obvious, but so often overlooked: Talk to your partner often and as openly as you feel possible. That way you are not guessing how the other feels, you are letting each other in on your needs at that time.
Understand that all relationships change and that your partner can never meet all of your needs nor you theirs, thus you both need things outside of the relationship.
Being willing to compromise is a key solution for most couples and that has to be compromise on both sides. Ultimately it needs to be a partnership of equals who feel that they can talk about any of their relationship issues and that they will be listened to understood and accepted.
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