relationship challenges

Finally, after a long search you felt like you found your soulmate. It took you hard work and moments of despair, but you jumped on the relationship train. And now after several years of living together you’ve stumbled upon relationship challenges: something broke down and it seems that it is not easy to fix it.

To tell you the truth, you are not alone in this struggle. Sooner or later, every couple encounters boredom, routine sex or its abstinence, emotional distancing, lack of interest and care or even extreme irritation with each other. Does it sound familiar? Would you let your relationship fall apart or are you willing to fight for your happiness?

All the relationship challenges have their inherent causes and fixes. In this article I will help you identify psychological patterns of relationship and suggest on how to keep things steamy and relationship fulfilling.

The dynamics of attraction

Even though he seemed to be the right one, the one who made you feel complete, who made you laugh and feel butterflies in the stomach, now he became the problem. Everything about him makes you irritated, annoyed, disappointed, sad or angry. The way he speaks, the way he behaves, you just don‘t recognise him anymore. Has he changed? No, but when the charm is gone, you start seeing him through different lenses.

The funny thing is, we fall in love with our opposites as unconsciously our psyche is seeking for balance. Therefore, a modest self-contained girl falls in love with a naughty boy, a rule-breaker. A responsible hardworking woman falls in love with a careless pleasure seeker. A powerful rational man falls in love with a vulnerable emotional woman. When the passion goes down, the qualities that initially attracted you start bugging you. Conflicts and fights become a part of daily routine until one partner decides to leave and go look for happiness elsewhere or suffers silently holding onto the good memories and fear of separation.

Patterns of relationship imbalance

Have you noticed that in different relationships you keep on getting the same results? You, as a good girl, keep on falling for bad boys or let yourself be dominated by your partner. As a strong woman, you might continuously end up with the weak, indecisive men. However, the problem is neither you, nor your partner. The problem is the behavioural pattern you as a couple are unconsciously getting into.

Couple’s relationship is actually a relationship between a bunch of different personalities: yours and your partner‘s dominant and rejected sub-personalities. The partner starts judging and accusing you, you become a guilty victim, who is apologising and lowering self-esteem. Here we have the psychological pattern of powerful versus weak. The more your partner starts to take care of everything and control you, the more annoyed you become. This is the psychological pattern of good father versus rebellious daughter. And vice versa: the more caring and sacrificing you are, the more selfish your partner will be. This is the play between self-sacrifising and selfish sub-personalities.

Breaking the vicious circle

Why do you have to suffer dealing with the same mess again and again? Because unconsciously you bring it upon yourself. Psychologists have long understood that human psyche is continuously looking for balance. So if you have some repressed sub-personality, life will force you to meet it through your partner, annoying colleague or difficult parents or children. For example, a perfectionist woman has a careless son and a hedonistic partner. As her dominant traits are self-control, discipline, professionalism, she attracts people with the balancing qualities: relaxed, pleasure seeking selves.

The same way a caring woman will always be surrounded by needy people. The good news is when you start developing the rejected sub-personality, your partner and the relationship with them changes. For example, when a ‘good mother’ type of a woman starts behaving selfishly, her partner relaxes and undertakes some responsibilities. A perfectionist woman learns to relax a bit, her partner becomes more disciplined. That’s how the relationship becomes more joyful and fulfilling.

Solving relationship challenges

Now that you‘ve understood that relationship challenges have a pattern, you can use that knowledge to your own advantage.  I encourage you to try change the perspective and look at your relationship as an opportunity for healing your wounds and promoting your personal growth.

Here are 5 practical tips on where to start.

Tip 1: Write down what you hate about your partner.

Try to define what behaviour and personal qualities of your partner irritate you the most. Be as specific as possible. Now look at what you wrote. These are your own rejected qualities. You have them as well, but your parents didn‘t accept them, therefore, you buried them deep inside.

Tip 2: Write down your own qualities that you are proud of.

What do people praise you for? When do you feel you have full control? Now these are your dominant qualities. They are neither good nor bad. Just remember, your psyche is desperately seeking for balance. If you ignore it, it will get pretty nasty with you.

Tip 3: Develop your repressed sub-personalities.

Look at the first list and start with the least annoying, smallest change. Do something awkward, something crazy, something you‘ve never dared to do. Notice how liberating this small step can be!

Tip 4: Try to accept and forgive yourself and your partner.

Writing a letter is an effective technique of dealing with relationship challenges. One letter can be dedicated to your partner, the other one to yourself as we are often unaware of the mixed feelings we have about ourselves. Draw a vertical line that will divide the page into two parts. On one side write what annoys you about partner in different situations. For example: I hate it when he stays back at work and doesn’t call me, I can’t stand when he ignores me in front of his friends. On the other side next to each complaint ‘I forgive you for that’. Once you are done with both sides, read it all and burn the letter.

Tip 5: Program yourself positively.

Relationship challenges that we encounter reflect what we feel we are worth of. If you constantly find yourself in an abusive relationship, it means that deep down you feel you don’t deserve love. It’s only natural in modern societies to feel guilt, anger, helplessness and be beating yourself up. But such belief and emotional state would not manifest loving and fulfilling relationships. Start right now and repeat it every day that you love and accept yourself, you are worth of love and it will bring you one step closer to a better and loving relationship. And always remember that a relationship with your partner is a mirror of your attitude towards yourself.

If you have a short question about relationship, don‘t hesitate to ask me in the comments below!

Image: flickr

Loreta is an inspiring coach and insightful psychologist who has more than ten years work experience in the fields of organisational and clinical psychology. She specialises in career development, women empowerment, relationship healing and personal growth. If you have a short question, get in touch with her on Twitter.


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