common relationship problems

On any given day you can find me working with a couple either in my office or through video. I commonly find that they don’t know how to identify, separate, and fix their issues. Relationships aren’t easy and require both people to decide daily if they choose to remain as a couple.

Many people did not grow up in homes that modeled how to have a healthy relationship and are left to figure it out as they grow up. It is possible to repair the common relationship problems. Most couples that end up in counseling all have one or several of these following issues.

1. Communication issues

The most common relationship problem that couples seek counseling for is their inability to communicate. There are many issues both in the past and present that can cause a couple to stop communicating.

The following are communication issues that many couples face:

  • You don’t feel that your partner listens to you.
  • You feel that your partner dismisses you and what you have to say.
  • You and your partner seem to argue frequently.

Do this to fix the problem:

  • Don’t approach your partner to discuss important issues if they are busy. Find a time when they are able to give you 100% of their attention.
  • Be sure to use statements that start with “I”. This will help decrease any defensiveness that may surface. For example, “I would like your help with this” versus “You never help with anything.”
  • You can both improve your listening skills by mirroring back what one another says to be sure it is understood and hear correctly. This prevents misunderstandings and can decrease potential conflict.

2. Sexual desire issues

As a clinical sexologist, the majority of couples that seek my services are those struggling with sex issues. Sometimes it is one partner who wants more sex than the other or one partner who has lost their desire for the other. I have seen every issue you can imagine related to sex and intimacy.

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Many couples that seek sex therapy find out that sex isn’t the issue; it is often the lack of connection and understanding within the relationship. This does lead to a disconnection with sex as well.

Here are a few examples of how sex causes issues within a relationship.

  • One partner wants to have more sex and the other partner wants to have less.
  • One partner wants to experiment with sex to try new things and the other partner has no interest in this.
  • One or both partners are experiencing some form of sexual dysfunction that is affecting their enjoyment of sex.

It is common and normal for couples that have been together for a long time to lose their sexual spark. It is very important to figure out what the specific problem is. Issues with sex in a long-term relationship can be a symptom of a bigger issue.

Do this to fix the problem:

  • Commit to having respectful, open, and honest communication about sex with one another.
  • Get back to having fun. When was the last time you planned a weekend away or did an activity that you both enjoyed? This is a great time to connect, build trust, which can help you be more physically intimate.
  • Schedule a visit with a medical doctor to rule out any physical issues that may be disrupting your desire, drive, physical discomfort, or difficulty with sex. Review medications that may be causing side effects and any other factors that are possibly affecting your body.

3. Trust issues

Trust is the foundation of every healthy relationship. If there are issues that have shaken the core of trust then they must be addressed.

Trust and intimacy move in tandem. This means that when trust is low then intimacy is low. As trust improves, so does intimacy. It is impossible to have healthy trust without intimacy and vice versa. Intimacy is the connection that a couple has. There are many different types of intimacy that you may not think about. For example, communication intimacy, recreational intimacy, spiritual intimacy, and physical intimacy are just a few of the different ways that couples connect.

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Here are a few examples that can lead to trust issues:

  • The feeling or knowing that your partner is cheating on you.
  • The feeling that your partner is not there for you or is not supporting you.
  • The feeling that you are not emotionally or physically safe within the relationship.

Trust can only be repaired if both people are willing to work on it. There isn’t an easy or quick fix to repair trust between two people. You may find that your partner is tired of hearing “I’m sorry” and wants to see you take action. It is important for you to take responsibility for your actions.

Do this to fix the problem:

  • Always try and do the right thing.
  • Be accountable when you make a mistake.
  • Be open and honest with your partner.

4. Money issues

If you and your partner view money differently, then you already know the many arguments that finances can cause.

You may be the financially conservative one in the relationship. You see the importance of budgeting, saving, and planning for the future. Your partner may agree with you that these things are important, but struggle to put these goals as a priority. This can lead you to feel that you are the only one in the relationship that cares about practicing financial responsibility.

Here are a few ways you may view finances different than your partner:

  • You value using a monthly budget and your partner spends money without thinking of the effect it will have.
  • Your partner sees the importance of paying off their credit cards and you find an item you want or are focused on planning your next trip together.
  • Your partner struggles to pay half of the monthly bills, which causes you to have to cover for them.

Regardless of the differences in how you and your partner view money, there has to be a resolution for the relationship to work.

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Do this to fix the problem:

Explain to your partner that smart money management is a deal-breaker for you. Let them know how important it is that the two of you have stability now and in the future.

Oftentimes, one person in the couple is the one to pay the bills and manage the joint money. If this is the case, both of you need to schedule a time each month to sit down as a couple and review the bills as well as what money is coming in versus going out. There are many free resources online including templates, worksheets, eBooks, and budgeting plans. Find ones that are easy to use and understand.

5. Everything else is the priority issue

When one partner makes everything else in their life a priority except their partner it can lead to a loss of connection and trust. It is easy for a couple to busy themselves with work, parenting, extracurricular activities, and housework.

Here are a few examples of how this problem looks in a relationship:

  • One or both partners stay busy with activities, commitments, and anything to avoid spending time with one another.
  • One or both partners feel dismissed and their needs are not getting met within the relationship.
  • One or both partners have a difficult time saying “no” and often say “yes” to everyone except their partner.

Do this to fix the problem:

  • Be the one who takes action to make changes first rather than try to change your partner. If your partner sees you prioritizing them and the relationship, they will likely begin to do the same.
  • Start saying no to those outside your relationship that make demands of your time.
  • Create a couple’s bucket list of activities, adventures, and goals that you both want to accomplish in your lifetime. Just the act of creating and talking about your future together can help you reconnect.

Many couples encounter these common relationship problems, but they are not impossible to solve. You can start making changes within yourself that can improve your relationship today.

Kristie is a clinical sexologist, psychotherapist, and author. She specializes in relationships and gender identities. Kristie helps people improve their relationships with themselves and others. When she isn't working with clients, consulting, or writing she enjoys spending time outside. She loves surfing, running, yoga, traveling, and reading.

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