What’s a relationship deal breaker for you? We talk about typical problems and offer solutions to get you over those hurdles.
When two people come together with all their differences, conflicts and miscommunication unavoidably emerge. This can come from differences in personality, relationship habits and history, cultural background and upbringing. That’s why we’re spotlighting six relationship problems and offering tips on how to overcome these challenges. Here’s to better, stronger relationships!
Common relationship problems and how to fix them
This is characterised by one partner persistently reminding the other to do something. The recipient may feel like they’re being controlled and expected to yield to someone else’s decisions for them. This can make them feel uninspired to carry through. Though we tend to joke about nagging, it can have serious effects on relationships, leading to sex that doesn’t happen as often or feel as satisfying.
Solution: Since your partner can’t read your mind, it’s important to be specific in your requests. Accept that you can’t always insist they do things your way. Notice how you’re asking your partner for support. Are you framing it as a request? Or are you resorting to name-calling? Speak respectfully and build understanding – that will go a long way in strengthening your relationship.
2. Being passive-aggressive
It’s a pattern of indirectly expressing negative feelings instead of openly addressing them. These types of behaviours include sulking, backhanded compliments, procrastination, withdrawal, refusal to communicate and giving your partner the silent treatment.
Solution: If your partner acts like this, try to keep your anger in check. Instead of leaving immediately to calm down, tell your partner you need some time to cool off so you can organise your thinking. And get back to them later. Don’t be distracted from addressing the problem and end up venting to others. Once you’ve calmed down, shift your focus back to responding as maturely as you can.
3. Loud, aggressive or abusive behaviour
Aggressive people tend to dominate and disregard others’ needs and rights while pursuing their own outcomes. Causes of such behaviour include instinct, hormonal imbalance, genetics, temperament, nurture and stress. Responding angrily to an aggressive person will almost certainly escalate the situation and make it harder to defuse.
Solution: Rather than attempting to begin a dialogue when one or both of you are upset, come to an agreement to calm down and seek to understand rather than be right. Ask your partner how they feel and brainstorm for solutions. Next, shortlist the most viable option. If that doesn’t work, come back to your list of solutions and try something else.
When you gaslight someone, you’re making them question their reality by denying facts or feelings. It’s a type of psychological manipulation that creates self-doubt. Victims start to second-guess their thoughts, emotions and even their own character.
Solution: If your conversations leave you feeling bad or uncertain about yourself, pay attention to what’s actually going on. Write down these conversations and your feelings, and look through them objectively to see if a pattern emerges. Understand your truth and keep an eye out for indications of constant denial of your experience. Your partner may or may not have the self-awareness to realise they’re manipulating you, but know that the way you feel is your internal reality. Acknowledge your emotions. Find out what causes their behaviour, practice self-care and self-compassion, don’t second-guess yourself, and ask for external help if needed.
This involves being evasive and refusing to communicate with your partner. When someone stonewalls you, they might intentionally walk away from discussions, shut down during an argument, refuse to respond to questions, or give the silent treatment. This can feel hurtful, frustrating, and ultimately cause harm to the relationship.
Solution: Find a neutral and safe space. Fix a time to discuss what’s going on. Acknowledge what was said before replying. Try to use words that are neutral rather than critical or accusatory. Be ready to accept feedback and admit wrong perceptions or mistakes. Know that it’s okay to postpone the conversation if things get too heated.
6. Unwilling to go for therapy
There’s no perfect relationship. Counselling can support couples and help you get on the same page. By providing the tools and direction, counsellors can enable you to regain trust in one another. Perhaps you’ve already attempted the suggestions above for quite some time and recognise that both of you need couples counselling. However, your partner refuses to go. What do you do?
Solution: Be honest about your struggles. Reassure them of your love and be transparent with your motives. Clarify that you’re not interested in venting, finger-pointing or blaming. Instead, therapy is about helping you work as a team to address issues. Understand your joint motives and goals, and choose your counsellor together.
If you’re struggling with any of these relationship problems, take some time to try out our suggestions together.