Once, in the midst of a fight, I threw my husband’s mobile phone across the living room and smashed it against the wall. It is by far the most aggressive thing I’ve ever done. It was with a fair degree of shock that my Military Man picked up the remnants of his beloved HTC. What were we fighting about? For the life of me, I can’t remember. But it really must have been something big for me to act in such a way. I abhor confrontation and violence of any kind. I’m the girl who nods and smiles her way through life in order to avoid an argument whilst digging my nails into my palms and grinding my teeth to get through repressed anger. Possibly my blood pressure is suffering.
The fact that I can’t remember what made me go Hulk on Military Man’s phone kind of highlights a key point of this article. All relationships experience problems and flights. But you can get through them and in time, they become a distant memory and occasionally a claim on your insurance.
1. Money, money, money
Before you roll your eyes and scroll down, hold up. Money problems are a cliché because they’re so common and they are one of the biggest reasons why relationships fall apart. According to Thisismoney.com, 51% of relationships break down because of unresolved money problems. Whether you earn more or less than your partner or money won’t stretch or one of you (maybe both) is in debt, money can seriously affect your self-worth.
How many times have you made another excuse to your friends because you don’t want to admit that you can’t go out due to insufficient funds? Money problems cause us shame and we often hide them. We fear that our loved ones will think we are bad with money, an accolade that seems to brand us as irresponsible and failing at life. But keeping financial secrets from your other half is a no-no. Think about it; they’re willing to share your life, possibly share a home and bills with you. No matter how difficult it is, share your money woes. In this case, honesty is always the best policy.
2. Serious talk
Picture the scene. You’re sat together in a flatteringly lit bar, basking in the romantic glow of your relationship. You’re happy, blissful even, and then comes the question with sincere, doleful eyes and an expectant tone: ‘where is this going?’ Eugh… the dreaded relationship talk. If you’re lucky, you can gloss straight over this; certainly, when me and Military Man first got together, we just sort of let it happen and didn’t question it. If you’re not lucky, you’ll have to get through a talk that attempts to define a facet of your relationship… and relationships have many faces.
Whilst we avoided the ‘where is this going’ talk, we still had to go through these: ‘shall we move in together?’, ‘shall we get a pet?’, ‘shall we get married?’, ‘shall we have children?’ With some divine intervention from the gods, somehow Military Man and I made it through all of these talks with the same answers but what if you and your partner have different ideas?
It’s simple, really. Communicate. Be honest about your expectations at every point and if you’re not happy with your partner’s answers, tell them. But don’t expect everything to work out in your favor. Compromise is a golden rule in any relationship but if you find that you’re willing to compromise and your partner isn’t, it might be time to have a talk with yourself and figure out what YOU want.
Sex is not great
Hey, it happens. You can’t be on the same sex schedule all the time. Sometimes your partner wants it and you don’t and vice versa. Other times, things just don’t seem to, err, fit into place and you’re just not feeling it (no, not that!). Sex and intimacy are a huge part of most relationships and so if something goes wrong in this area it can be hard to accept.
There are so many reasons why things go wrong in the bedroom, from psychological issues to being stressed, to having children. Plus, your libido can have more ups and downs than the Big Dipper at a theme park; it’s normal. If sex isn’t on the table, reassure your partner that you are still attracted to them and share intimacy in other ways and make the time to be close, whether that’s through kissing, cuddling, or holding hands. After all, they are your lover, not your flatmate.
You don’t like your partner’s friends
Or maybe they don’t like yours! This can be such a tricky problem to navigate because friendships are often more complex than romantic relationships. Friends are the family we choose. It’s hard not to take it personally if your partner doesn’t take a shine to your BFF. Similarly, if you look at your partner’s friends and feel like bolting, it can breed resentment whenever they spend time with them. Unless friends are a dangerous influence, I would never, ever interfere with a partner’s friendships.
If you can’t stand to be around them you have three choices. Suck it up for your partner and grin and bear their company. Try to get to know their friends personally, taking the time to meet up with them and chat with them. Or simply stay away from them. And if your partner doesn’t like your friends? Stop asking why – sometimes people clash. Not everyone will like everyone they ever meet. Arrange a get-together for your friends and your partner’s friends and let things progress naturally; maybe friendships will merge, maybe they won’t but don’t force people to get along.
Ahh, the joys of packing up everything you own, arguing about what you should and shouldn’t keep, judging each other silently on DVD’s (every single Star Trek film ever made…still in cellophane wrapping…) and CD collections (seriously who needs cd’s these days?). The arguments about how to pack (sheets inside pillowcases, duh), disagreements about where everything should go when you do unpack, daily battles for weeks afterward (“you put it where? Why would you put in there?”). The DIY injuries, the ZOLT (zone of lost things), and realizing you packed the kettle first and now have to dig through a hundred boxes to find it. You didn’t label anything properly, even though he told you to and now he’s looking at you smugly as you gasp for a cuppa. There’s no getting around this one. Hire a moving company to do everything for you and have done with it.
Relationships can be difficult and it is natural for them to go through rough patches. There will certainly be challenges that you face. Learning how to face them together, as a team, is one of the greatest lessons you learn when being together. There’s no real shortcut to discovering how to do that. Communicate as best you can, be honest with each other but especially with yourself. And throwing smartphones? Not smart.