Relationship Challenges

Learn what some of the most common relationship problems are, and what you can do about them.

Relationship problems are a fact of life. After the honeymoon phase is over, problems begin. This doesn't mean you have to give up. Take a close look at your relationship. Where do you spend most of your time? Are you caught up with the children, or focusing on work?

What are common relationship problems?

One of the most common problems I see in my practice, is an inability to manage conflict. Dr. John Gottman is a premier researcher on relationships. It's not surprising that he found all couples have conflict. What's important is that you repair after the conflict and learn to manage the conflict. He found that 69% of problems in a relationship are unsolvable.

What does this mean? You need to understand the problem before you can solve it. There is nothing worse than feeling like your partner doesn't understand you. This is when you begin to feel emotionally isolated in the relationship. If you don't work on understanding, this can be the beginning to the end.

5 Common Relationship Problems You Can't Ignore:

  1. Negative Sentiment Override. This is when the negative overrides the positive. When couples are stuck in the negative sentiment override, they don't notice the positive 50% of the time. The negative sentiment override doesn't set in overnight. This can take years to set in. But, once it sets in it's not easy to repair. What does this mean? Work on building a positive relationship. Work on understanding your partner. Don't be so critical of one another.

  2. Flooding. I see this a lot in couples. This is when you are having a conflict with your partner and your heart rate gets to be 100 BPM or more. If you are athletic it's 85 BPM or more. Diffuse Physiological Arousal (DPA) enters the blood stream, and you go into fight or flight. This is a very uncomfortable feeling. What you need to do is take a break from one another. You take your heart rate, and you tell your partner you are flooded. You physically separate from one another. This means you can't see or hear one another. You don't even want to think about one another. If you do, this will keep you flooded. It takes a minimum of 20 minutes to get your heart rate back down. Sometimes, for men it can take longer. So, the break needs to be a minimum of 20 minutes, but no loner than 24 hours. 

  3. Learn to accept influence from your partner. When you are in a relationship, it's easy to get into a groove. You have a family and a job to manage. It might be hard for you to put on the pause button. But, if you don't your partner will start to feel as if they don't exist or matter. Make sure to schedule time for one another. This is a time for the two of you to discuss what's going on in your life. This is also a time where you can hear your partner out and accept influence from your partner. This means trying out what your partner has planned and having an open mind. This is not a time to be critical.

  4. Lack ways of having fun together. At the beginning fun was just built into the relationship. But, after a while fun gets further down on the list. You have a new job, you have children and a house to take care of. You stop making the relationship a priority and focus on other things. This means you need to schedule time for fun, like you did in the beginning. Fun is the glue in a relationship. It is what will keep you together. 

  5. Learn to manage stressors that happen outside of the relationship. This is when it is important to talk to your partner. It's also important that your partner listens. You can't always control what is happening outside the relationship. But, if you have a good foundation in your relationship, then it won't drive a wedge between the two of you. In order to do this, there needs to be trust in the relationship. Meaning when you talk about what is stressing you out, your partner will not judge you or try to solve the problem. Your partner will listen and be supportive. 

It's best to get help for relationship problems as early as you can. Couples therapy can teach you to relate to your partner in a new way, and give you a new perspective on the relationship. I have been trained to use The Gottman Method for Couples. This comes with over four decades of research. It starts with an assessment, this gives me a lot of information about the relationship. It would take many sessions to find out this information, if I didn't use it. All relationships go through seasons. Couples therapy can help you understand what those seasons mean and grow from them.

If you liked what you read, there is more in Relationship Challenges. You will find helpful tips, that can help with communication. This will help rebuild the friendship in your relationship, which will help other areas in your relationship like intimacy. 

Lianne Avila is a Marriage & Family Therapist helping couples in San Mateo, CA who are looking to rebuild a close emotional connection and get their relationship back on track. Please subscribe to Lianne’s newsletter on www.LessonsforLove.com to learn more about her services and expertise.

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Lianne Avila, MFT
1510 Fashion Island Blvd.
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San Mateo, CA 94404

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