Even happy couples experience problems in their relationships. Here’s how to deal with the most common ones.
1. Poor Communication
Good communication is one of the factors for a successful relationship. A survey by the website Your Tango. com found that communication gap is a major cause for divorce. “In our society, it is rare for persons to share what really matters; the tender, shy, reluctant feelings, the sensitive, fragile, intense disclosures. It is equally rare for a partner to listen intently enough to really understand what the other is saying,” says Robert Bolton, author of People Skills: How to Assert Yourself, Listen to Others and Resolve Conflicts. He adds, “When communication is blocked, love’s energy turns to resentment and hostility. Frequent bickering, withering sarcasm, repetitious criticism or an icy retreat into silence and sexual unresponsiveness results.”
- Give your spouse undivided attention during conversations. Avoid looking at your phone or finishing up chores. Contrary to popular belief, humans aren’t wired for multitasking. You might miss important details and your partner will end up feeling ignored.
- Use statements that are less accusatory if you and your partner have a disagreement. “I” statements are less accusatory than “You” statements. This way, you get to focus on your feelings and he gets to understand your point of view.
- Avoid interrupting your partner when he’s speaking. Let him get to the point before responding. Avoid responding negatively. If you don’t get his point, ask him to clarify.
- Be truthful and respectful when sharing your feelings.
- A common mistake is that people always try to win during conflicts instead of resolving them. Sometimes, agreeing to disagree can go a long way instead of having it your way.
Differences in libido are normal, but if it goes on for too long, it can destroy your relationship. Familiarity, demanding jobs, stress and health issues, such as menopause and certain medication are the common culprits.
- Find out what’s causing it by talking about it. “The best thing that a couple can do when they find themselves with differences in their levels of desire is to agree to talk about it,” says Dr Madeleine Castellanos, a psychiatrist specialising in sex therapy with couples and individuals. “Too many times, couples allow time to go by without actually discussing it. Instead, they try to initiate with hints, constant accusations, sarcastic jokes or physical groping. This fuels irritation and eventually, anger and resentment.”
- Ian Kerner, Ph.D., a sexuality counsellor and the author of She Comes First, says that the brain is the biggest sex organ. “Very often, in long term relationships, couples really just start relying on few routines; they know how to stimulate each other, it’s all about the physical moves, they are not mentally as engaged as they could be. That’s when you have to start talking, introducing fantasy, bringing in erotic material, trying a sex toy, some new lingerie…” When lack of time is the cause, schedule a date for sex and treat it as a priority, the same way you would an important appointment.
According to a study by the UK Office for National Statistics, worrying about money puts a bigger strain on a couple’s relationship than someone having an affair. In their book, First Comes Love, Then Comes Money: A Couple’s Guide to Financial Communication, Bethany Palmer and Scott Palmer write that money can tick people off like nothing else. “That’s because most of us have very strong, deeply ingrained ideas about how and when we use our money and since money impacts nearly every decision we make in our lives, those ideas come into play several times a day. When those idea clash, most couples have no idea what to do.”
- Understand each other’s money habits. If you have different ideas and concepts on how to spend money, find a middle ground.
- Set specific financial goals. That way, you won’t end up squabbling when one person makes an investment or spends money on a big-ticket item.
- Be open about your finances. “Don’t hide your spending habits from your spouse. Live within the boundaries that you set. Consult your spouse before purchasing big-ticket items. Negotiate, and then renegotiate when necessary. You made these life decisions together and you can change them together. When a financial issue comes up, ask yourself whether it is really a money problem or a relationship problem?” advises Dr Phil on his website, drphil.com.
- Create a budget together; decide how much will be allocated on small and big purchases and who will be responsible. Set spending rules and limits and live within the rules.