Common Relationship Issues

Here we will be looking at common relationship issues that are found in couples. However, it is worth pointing out that if one looks at them closely they are often not so different than in those that we may find with family members, colleagues at work or even neighbors. The complaints most often heard about in general include:

  • He/she doesn't seem to notice what's important to me.
  • I can't bear his/her demands anymore.
  • I am the only one making the effort in this relationship (including wanting to solve our problems), what else can I do?
  • He/she is a bully and controlling everything.
  • He/she makes so much of so little at the wrong time.
  • I just can't stand some of his/her habits anymore.

The results are usually of two kinds. If we don't argue violently (with words, or physically) we don't talk to each other, or avoid each other. It will of course be obvious to anyone in this situation that it feels like there is a break, we can't seem to 'connect' any more. Personally I like to use the idea of 'meeting', and so when two people say they are having issues in their relationship, I understand that they can't find a way to 'meet' anymore.

The truth is, as it certainly seemed from the point of view of the french psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan and other philosophers including Emanuel Kant, that, contrary to what we would so much like to believe, this 'break' or disconnection is inherent in our relationship with one another. Very simplistically put, it is a normal quality of our relationships with the others, and even with the world at large, that we don't have an immediate access to it.

Lacan phrased this state of affairs in a formula which indeed sounds rather drastic, but may help us nonetheless grab what is effectively at stake: There is no such thing as a sexual relationship. Of course it would be nonsense (although perhaps not for everyone) to claim that we are never being intimate with our partners, especially during sexual intercourse. And so this is why I prefer to use this idea of 'meeting'.

A direct and unmediated relationship with the external world, and with our partners specifically, is simply impossible. This state of impossibility (cf. the 'antinomies' of E. Kant) come out most noisily in our being different from each other. If so, then how do you explain that we used to get on so well before then? You may be asking. Even if it is impossible to have any immediate access to the others, and the world in general, that doesn't mean we can't think, love or share on the same level.

We understand and interpret what we see and hear in terms of our own experience. We 'meet', connect and potentially 'fall in love with each other' when those imaginary constructions that we need to make of the world and people 'fit' or resemble one another. In those instances we feel we are not alone but instead rather flattered (loved) for being appreciated, recognised, 'as we think we truly are'.

In relationship issues this enjoyment turns from positive to negative. Somehow our desires and longings seem to have changed (they haven't, they have just been uncovered), with the result that we can't understand ourselves or the other and can't stand what was, in all fairness, more or less always already there. What was fun, charming, sexy or special turns into its opposite.

I don't believe it is my aim to tell people what they should think or do to repair their relationship. This would overlook what makes you different and unique. If only it was so simple as to read some advice to fix something so complex as a close relationship. This complexity, as I hope I made it clear in this very brief article, is ultimately connected with the nature of one's desire. Being able to reconnect with it, or to 'meet' it within an appropriate relationship in therapy, allows it to grow and put to use again in what is most important to us.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Written by Stephane Preteux - English/French MBACP Accr. Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist

After graduating in Applied Mathematics from the university of Paris (X) in France, followed by a brief incursion in film 3D special effects in Soho (UK) I certified in Transactional Analysis from the Metanoia Institute and received a diploma in Psychodynamic Psychotherapy from WPF in London. I then graduated with a Master of Science (MSc) in Counselling and Psychotherapy from Roehampton universit… Read more

Written by Stephane Preteux - English/French MBACP Accr. Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist

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