Relationships issues – exploring difficulties and pressures
The reality is that in each relationship, there will inherently be periods of strain, pressure, conflict and hurt. No relationship is perfect, and even relationships which may be perceived by others as stable, loving and contented, will have their turn on stormy seas.
This article looks at the importance of relationships, difficulties, pressures and blame in relationships and common relationship issues. I will also briefly explore how therapy can help a couple or individual.
Importance of relationships
At our core, we are relational beings who need contact, love and connection with others. This helps us feel sustained, heard, valued and understood. The relationships we develop and nurture, whether romantic, platonic, familial or work based, are an incredibly meaningful part of life, bringing us joy, happiness and fulfilment at profoundly deep levels. Relationships make us feel healthier and happier, as well as being a source of advice, support and guidance.
Conversely, relationships are also capable of being a source of difficulty, and can cause us great sadness, upset and anger. There can be many reasons for a relationship to break down or end. We may find ourselves feeling a relationship is no longer satisfying or feel the other person no longer meets our expectations, or we may have outgrown the relationship, or it may have naturally ended.
The nature of relationships, whether they are fractured, close or intermittent, is one of immense complexity, meaning we are all susceptible to feeling hurt, lonely, angry, vulnerable, or feeling disappointed with ourselves, our partner, or both.
It is often those closest to us that are capable of inflicting most hurt and pain upon us. The closeness we feel to our others is in many ways a double sided blade, and even though we care for and value those in our lives, they have the power to leave us exposed and hurt. Making us question the validity or meaningfulness of our relationship. This is in many ways, one of the unavoidable qualities of the human condition.
Difficulties, pressures and blame
We live in an age of constant advertising, where on an unconscious level, we gain an expectation of what a relationship should be. We see films, television shows and read magazines, featuring perfect couples. Additionally, the advent of social media, leads us to see only perfection in the relationships of our friends or family. It is not surprising therefore, that we place our relationships under such pressure, scrutiny and often expect a great deal.
There will be in every relationship, a multitude of difficulties which we have to navigate and manage. Relationships are often delicate, fragile and easily damaged by a wide variety of occurrences. Seemingly small mistakes such as a careless comment or a perceived slight can erupt a torrent of arguments, leading to breakdown in communication.
The ‘blame game’ happens often within relationships, and can become a hard cycle to break, with each person refusing to budge. It can be all too easy for people to sulk or become angry, with the real issue forgotten. These interactions are common, but when they occur too often, it can over time poison and damage a relationship.
Common relationship issues
Often relationship issues stem from differing expectations, opinions or feelings. One partner may expect the other to act or do things a certain way, and then becomes frustrated when this doesn’t happen. Although this is common, each relationship is unique, containing its own individual set of dynamics, difficulties and patterns of functioning. While there are commonalities in why relationships break down, there are no set rules. I have outlined below three common relationship issues below.
Betraying a partner or close friend has a huge impact upon a relationship, and comes in different forms, such as an affair or keeping secrets of financial difficulties or an addiction to drugs, alcohol or pornography. In some cases these betrayals can lead to the complete breakdown of a relationship, but some people seek a resolution and want to work through difficulties within the relationship.
The relationships we have with our family members become an integral part of our lives and when there is conflict within these relationships, it can have a powerful impact upon our significant relationships. All too commonly, one person does not get along with a member of their partners family due to historical difficulties for example. This can cause a painful and damaging rift in a relationship where one person feels they must choose sides. When feelings about family members go unsaid over time, we can become angry, hurt and disappointed, and our relationship can begin to suffer and become strained.
Communication is probably one of the most talked about subjects where relationship issues are concerned. Often, people equate communication with explaining how they feel. However, this is not the entire truth. Of course explaining to your partner how you feel is important, but what also matters is that you are able to listen; offering you the chance to know what it is they are feeling. Whether it is the case that one person finds it difficult to speak about their feelings, or access their emotions, and another is adept at doing so, a lack of communication between both people can have a damaging effect on a relationship.
How therapy can help
Often the reason for a couple or an individual to enter into psychotherapy and counselling is because a current relationship has broken down, and one or both partners has lost the ability to communicate. Alternatively, an individual may wish to examine their past relationships at more depth, and identify past patterns.
Psychotherapy and counselling allow either a couple, or one individual experiencing relationship difficulties, the space to explore their worries about their relationship, consider any patterns which may have emerged historically, or been made more clear within a recent relationship and begin to work toward communicating more effectively with their partner, and also to themselves. Ultimately, this will both enrich their relationships and their understanding of how they function within relationships.