Relationship and marital problems are not that uncommon. They come in all shapes and sizes. If you are feeling disconnected or alone in your relationship, you are not alone. The divorce rate is almost 50%. This should tell you something.
As a Marriage & Family Therapist and a trained Gottman Couples Therapist. I can tell you I have seen a lot of problems. My knowledge has allowed me to help many couples through difficult times. I have found that the small things make a BIG difference in a relationship.
So, the question is why do so many of you get away from that? I see it all the time. Work, children and the house take over. This means your relationship gets further down on the list. When you start putting your partner last, your relationship is in big trouble.
Here are 7 types of relationship challenges:
- Perceived lack of concern, care and attentiveness. Feeling like the relationship is one-sided. Alright, you decided to stay home while the kids were young. You wanted to be there to see them grow and change. You sacrificed a lot to do this. You had a thriving career and great friends. Now, he is away at work all day. He has been promoted and works late most of the time. His travel schedule is crazy. This leaves you with all the responsibilities of the house and children. Which, leaves no time for the relationship or yourself. You are feeling resentful. When you tell your partner you want to talk, he always seems to get out of it. This is when, it is time to prioritize the relationship again. If you don’t, it could end in divorce. Which neither of you really want. It’s easy to focus on what your partner is not doing. Try to notice what he is doing and let him know how much you appreciate it. You also have a part in this. A good attitude can help a lot.
- Significant values in core values and beliefs. This one can be tricky. You grew up in a Christian home and he grew up in a home that didn’t care much about it. Now what do you do? You’ve invited him to go to church, but he won’t. He is starting to get a little edgy when you ask him about it. Remember, what drew you to him in the first place. Values and beliefs go deep and they can change. But, they don’t usually change over night. I once met a woman that told me she waited 20 years for her husband to become a Christian. Now, there is patience. You want to be accepting of your partner’s core values and beliefs, otherwise he/she will feel like you are trying to change him/her. This will cause resentment in the long run.
- Feeling bored with your relationship. After a while, it starts to feel like the same thing. This is when you need to take initiative in the relationship. If you would like to try something new, then tell your partner. You could go on a new weekend getaway. Plan a date night. Buy a new dress and shoes. Surprise your partner. This can lead to good things.
- Unrealistic expectations. I see this a lot. You expect your partner to be the same person he/she was in the past. People are always changing. Are you the same person you were five years ago? The answer is probably no. But, you expect your partner to be the same person he/she was five years ago. Learn to embrace change. It is part of life and part of your relationship.
- Responses to long periods of stress, such as financial problems, work-related stress, mental health issues, an illness, trouble with the children and the list goes on. I know you never thought it would happen to you, but it did. Life brings many challenges. When they happen it’s easy to take it out on the person closest to you, your partner. This is a great time to be supportive towards one another. Use your listening skills and let your partner know you appreciate how patient he/she has been. I have learned that everyone has gone through something in their life. What’s important is how you handle the situation. Learn to let go and move on.
- Sexual problems - loss of libido or not feeling attracted to your partner like you used to. This can happen in the best of relationships. You’ve been married a while and you have more responsibilities. Two out of three couples report a decrease in sexual satisfaction after a child is born. (Gottman) There are many reasons for this. Your body has gone through a lot of changes, sleep deprivation, change in work schedule, etc. This is the time where you need to schedule sex. I know everyone hates hearing this, but think back to when you were dating. You had a goal of having sex. Treat your relationship like you did when you were courting. Over time you will see a change in libido and attraction. Sometimes, a decrease in libido could mean something more serious, perhaps depression. Make sure to talk to your doctor about it.
- Dealing and coping with a jealous partner. Alright, you stayed home with the children and now they are all in school. It’s time for you to start focusing on your career, again. You landed a great job, with many perks. Your partner would even like to have these perks at his job. Now, he has to help out around the house and with the children. You’ve had to work late a couple of times, which meant he had to cook dinner. That’s not that unusual these days for a man to cook and clean. But, your man is used to having you do it. You notice he has been a little irritable lately. You ask why, and he bursts out in anger. ‘You’re never around.’ This isn’t what you were expecting. Let your partner know there is enough of you to go around. Then back it up with action.
I hope this let’s you know you aren’t alone. Many relationships go through highs and lows. I don’t want you to think it’s the end of the world if you are having these problems. You can learn to work through your problems and end up on the other side.
Compromise is a big part of any relationship. Use your negotiation skills. Prioritize what is really important to you and then be patient. Talk to your friends and family. Ask them how they have survived the tough times. If you find that isn’t helping, then it’s time to talk to a professional.
Lianne Avila is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in San Mateo, CA. She has helped many couples get through the bumps in their relationship. For a free phone consultation or more information, please call or email (650) 892-0357 or firstname.lastname@example.org.