Relationships are an ongoing effort. It takes a lot of hard work and grit to make a real relationship work. You may be surprised to find yourselves at a roadblock after years of unknowingly neglecting your relationship.
With differences in personality and opinion, there are bound to be conflicts in any relationship. But what happens when you just can’t seem to move past a rough patch?
Signs of breaking up like continuous fighting and animosity can be terrifying. There are five things you need to know when facing relationship problems that can help you get past this scary time.
Identify the Problem
Do you seem to be constantly rehashing the same argument? Many couples fight time and time again over the same unresolved issues. The first step in any conflict resolution is identifying the root issues of the conflicts.
Common issues, like financial disagreements and dynamics involving in-laws, are frequent causes of fights in relationships. However, every relationship is unique and has its unique problems. Be honest with each other about the things that are bothering you about the other’s behavior.
This may take sitting down, and each of you writing an objective list of things that you continuously seem to be fighting over. Try to eliminate the blame game and keep the subjects neutral. You may find that your lists are very similar, and it may be helpful to begin with the issues you both have prioritized.
How many times does a disagreement escalate because one side or both resort to focusing on feelings? Relationships are emotionally volatile, and it is easy to get angry or vindictive during an argument. Criticizing or attacking your partner is a sure-fire way to make an argument take an ugly turn.
Arguments can be productive as long as both sides are focused on seeing the other person’s perspective. Avoid using “you” statements as much as possible. Try to focus on your behavior and how the other person’s actions make you feel.
It is tempting to begin making exaggerated statements like “you always” or “I never” when arguing. These statements nearly always result in the other person getting defensive. Choosing your words carefully can be the difference between having a productive argument and a hurtful fight.
It may be tempting to withdraw during an argument. If you get overwhelmed, it is ok to retreat to collect your thoughts, then revisit the situation. Fighting fair is easier when you are calm. Come to a mutual agreement on how and when to revisit the situation.
Keeping communication open is an important focus. Once you stop communicating, you make it impossible to resolve conflict. Checking in frequently with your partner lets them know that you care about what they are thinking and feeling. It also allows you to address small conflicts before they explode into a fight.
Focus on Each Other’s Needs
The Golden Rule is to treat people how you want to be treated. But what about how they want to be treated as an individual? Everyone has different emotional needs that need to be treated accordingly. There may be aspects of your relationship that your partner values more than you do.
Try to consider how your partner reacts to your behavior. Do your actions seem to bring them joy or frustration? Take the time to step away from the chaos of everyday life to address your partner’s needs.
I have to admit that in between kids and the rat race of life, it is easy to put our marriage on the back burner. Implementing couples check-ins and consistent date nights has helped foster communication. Having honest conversations has helped us understand what we need from each other.
Five Love Languages author Gary Chapman writes, “People tend to criticize their spouse most loudly in the area where they themselves have the deepest emotional need.”
You may be unknowingly hurting your partner by neglecting or ignoring their needs. A great start is to find out your partner’s love language. The five love language method has helped a large number of couples. By knowing your partner’s love language, you can better understand what they need from you to feel valued.
Sit down with your partner while you each make a list of things that you both wish you had more of in the relationship. You may have a desire for more date nights while your partner simply wants you to ask how his or her day was. By better understanding how each other would like to be treated, you can begin strengthening your relationship.
Don’t Be Afraid to Seek Help
The stigma around therapy prevents so many people from getting the help that could benefit them so much. Don’t be afraid to seek outside help when trying to overcome relationship problems. A counselor can help be a great third party tool to solve conflicts.
Ask other couples you know and trust for recommendations. Or do some research to find a counselor in your area. It is crucial to find a counselor that you are both comfortable with. Seek out a counselor together, and make sure you both agree on the choice.
Both partners in the relationship must be committed to therapy. It is a lot of hard work and a waste of time and money if not taken seriously. Honesty is of the utmost importance when it comes to working with your therapist.
Your therapist will likely see you as a couple and then in separate individual sessions. Use your individual sessions to work on you. Avoid trying to win the therapist’s opinion by bashing your partner and blaming them for all your relationship problems. It is not a competition but rather a project that you are all working on together.
Be Realistic with Your Expectations
In the end, you must be honest with yourself and each other about where you see your relationship going. What are your goals for the future of your relationship? Make sure you agree on what you are working towards.
Unfortunately, even with all of the work you are putting in, relationships sometimes just don’t work out. Communicating with each other and being respectful throughout this process can save your underlying friendship. If there are children involved, make sure they are your priority during this transition.
Moving on is tough. Especially if you have been in a long-term relationship. But recognizing that you are better as friends is the first step to a positive post-break-up outcome.
Ultimately, the work you put into the relationship is likely what you will get out of it. Prioritizing each other and your relationship may be the only way to fight relationship problems. Just make sure that you remain honest and caring towards each other despite the outcome.