Relationships are hard. Whether dating, living together, engaged, or married problems will arise. A couple’s ability to work through difficult issues determines if they will stay together or break up. This article focuses on five common problems and offers solutions to keep the couple together.

1. Poor Communication

One of the biggest challenges couples experience is communication. Patterns of communication can be tricky and can become crossed. A common crossed communication pattern is trying to fix or solve the issue when the other partner simply wants to vent. Anger can start pretty quick and both partners can quickly move into defensiveness, which can lead to days of not talking or engaging with one another.

The Solution: Tell your partner the type of communication you wish. This mean says to partner. “I want to vent about …” Partner listens and provides empathy. This does not mean telling partner what they did wrong or how to fix the problem.

2. Unable to Resolve Conflict

Every relationship has some conflict. To have no conflict means true thoughts and feelings are being suppressed. Its ok to have conflict. John Gottman of the Gottman Insitute https://www.gottman.com/ has been studying and talking about conflict for many years. The trick is to not let the fighting get out of hand. Throwing verbal daggers, intentionally saying hurtful things, or shutting a conversation down by leaving the room are unhealthy ways to solving the conflict.

The Solution: Lean into the conflict by using I statements to share how you are feeling. Avoid using hurtful words, such as, you, always, or never. Ask open-ended questions to gain information. Listen without talking over each other.

3. Not Taking Partner’s Influence

Being single means, we make all the decisions. We don’t need to discuss or check with someone. We are free to do whatever we want whenever we want. Being in a committed relationship means listening and taking partner influence before acting. This could be talking about how long to stay at happy hour with co-workers or listening to partners research and ideas about what type of car to purchase. Repeatedly not taking partner’s ideas and thoughts into consideration could cause the end of the relationship.

The Solution: Actively listen and understand partners thoughts and ideas. Act accordingly upon their solutions.

4. Inability to Repair

Nobody is perfect. Partners make mistakes, forget to do things that are important to our partners, or say things they do not mean. This can happen in the heat of battle or through an innocent conversation. Repairs need to happen when this occurs otherwise the partner may feel unloved, neglected, or that their significant other does not care.

The Solution: Doing an immediate repair when our partner is hurt. Repairs can be verbal or nonverbal.
Examples of verbal repairs include:
“Your Right”
“My Apologies”
“That was hurtful, forgive me”

Examples of non-verbal repairs include:
Cooking favorite meals
Giving a hug
Writing a love poem or note

5. Not Making Time For Fun

Career, kids, and other obligations can get in the way of the relationship. Responsibilities of owning a home often takes time away from the couple just being themselves. Its important to spend quality time with your significant other. This does not have to be a big formal date. It can be as simple as sharing a funny story from your day. Not making time to have fun together may make your partner seek fun outside of the relationship.

The Solution: Structured goofing off time. This means setting a date to hang out and act goofy. Do something outside of each partner’s comfort zone, such as doing karaoke or playing laser tag.

This article provided five common problems and solutions in relationships.   To learn more about Marriage Counseling or Couples Counseling click the links or call Angelie at (503) 841-2142 or email her at angelie@pillarsofhopecounseling.com.