Relationship problems can arise in any relationship. Most commonly we think about relationship problems developing in intimate relationships with a partner, but there may also be problems with family members; children; and friends and work colleagues too. Relationships have a big impact on our wellbeing and happiness so when things become strained you may feel low and feel like ending the relationship.
Causes of relationship problems
Infidelity: While infidelity is a problem in itself, it may also indicate that other underlying issues need to be addressed.
Jealousy: You may feel jealous that your partner is spending time with other people or you may be jealous of their successes and achievements.
Trust: Trust is vital to a successful relationship. Trust can sometimes break down due to bad experiences in this or a past relationship (e.g. finding out about an affair) or be unjustified.
Differing expectations: Problems may arise if partners haven’t communicated what they want out of a relationship, e.g. a long term relationship, children, or a short term fling.
Imbalance in the relationship: When one partner regularly supports the other, this can cause imbalance in the relationship, e.g. needing financial support or support for a problem such as addiction or a mental health problem.
Dealing with relationship problems at home
Many relationship problems arise due to inadequate communication. Communication may become an issue because of relationship problems or as a result of a particular problem, e.g. not wanting to talk after finding out about a partner’s infidelity. Talking directly to your partner, if possible, is the first step in tackling the problems.
Talking gives your partner the chance to see things from your perspective – they might not realise there is a problem at all. Open discussion can be very effective, but only if you are both willing to listen to and accept the other’s views. Such discussions may make you feel angry. In such instances it is important to take some time out and think about what your partner has said. Then you can return composed, so that you don’t automatically start arguing. If you feel you can’t talk face to face, writing a letter may help you express your feelings clearly. Sometimes writing a letter to your partner (irrespective of whether you intend to send it) is a good way of organising how you feel and why you feel this way.
If you feel you cannot opening discuss your problems with your partner due to arguments or worse, then you may need to seek help.
Couples counselling/relationship counselling: In this type of therapy, the therapist acts as an impartial outsider. The therapist will facilitate discussion between you and your partner and may also help you both identify any triggers or patterns that are causing problems in your relationship.
Individual therapy: If your partner will not attend couples counselling, or you would rather discuss things alone, then individual therapy may be beneficial. This type of therapy will allow you to discuss your own personal feelings and enable you to tackle personal issues, such as jealousy or anger problems which may be at the root of your relationship problems.
You may find the following books helpful:
- Human Relationship Skills by Richard Nelson-Jones
This can be used as self help or in client work. It contains a comprehensive guide to all the relationships with have in our lives (including work colleagues, friends and sexual partners) and advice on how to manage these relationships in a healthy and fulfilling way. A lot of coaching techniques are contained within the book, which could be helpful with people who like to do exercises and worksheets.
- Stop arguing, start talking by Susan Quilliam (Relate)
- Passionate Marriage by David Schnarch
Very psychologically solid and explicit, this book centres around the sexual arena within long-term committed relationships but brings it all alive.
- The Mindful Couple: How Acceptance and Mindfulness Can Lead You to the Love You Want by Robin Walser and Darrah Westrup
This guide for couples is based on a simple concept: Act out of kindness, love, and acceptance, and you will open your relationship for the creation of greater kindness, love, and acceptance.
Further information about relationship problems
Feel free to contact us to ask about psychological therapies available at our centres that may help with relationship problems and related issues.