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  • Monique Schneigansz

5 MOST COMMON PROBLEMS COUPLES FACE

Updated: Oct 30, 2020

Within any relationship when two different personality types join together as an entity, they have to learn to accept both their partner’s positive assets as well as their flaws and mannerisms which may not necessarily match theirs. It is therefore inevitable that at some point in the relationship, the couple will face some challenges or differences that may require intervention. Many couples are unsure how to work through these differences effectively in order to move forward. Professional support is not always required and can often be resolved amongst the couples privately. Five of the most common factors that may cause strife within a relationship are summarised below with possible suggestions on how to resolve it.


1. Communication


1.1. Problem


Communication is such a big part of our daily lives and yet we still do not recognise the effect of it in every relationship, especially with our partner. From a very young age, a child will learn how to communicate by observing their parents or any individual which influences their personal development and growth. Problems usually arise once the taught communicative behaviour shows their effect as these children get older. Thus, influencing how they would function within friendships, professional or romantic relationships.


There are many examples of ineffective communication within relationships. One of these might include withholding one's true feelings from their partner. Many individuals struggle to express their emotions and thoughts, they rather choose to avoid it to prevent the occurrence of fighting or arguing.


Some find it easier expressing their concerns, but the way these feelings are communicated or expressed may not always be constructive. The tone of how they express their feelings either through raising their voice, screaming or yelling at their partner can sometimes result in irreparable damage to the relationship if not resolved as soon as possible. Another factor includes a lack of active listening which can result in frustration and anger as both parties might feel like they are not being heard.


1.2. Possible Solutions


Luckily there are numerous ways to improve one’s communication skills and it is something that can be developed and improved over time. The first thing to be done include identifying the areas that cause misunderstandings and prevent effective communication in the relationship. Once these areas have been identified, both individuals have to commit to improving their communication.


A practical way to start involves taking quality time to listen to your partner. This includes using one's body language to show that you are present and taking note of the conversation. Not only is it important to listen to your partner, but finding the right time to discuss more sensitive topics will help avoid unnecessary arguments. The couple must also agree to always be honest about their feelings without fearing what their partner might think or how he/she will react. Also, never make assumptions during a discussion and always make sure to ask questions to avoid any miscommunication.


Lastly, when a conversation gets heated, both parties must take the responsibility to end the discussion and choose to rather talk about it once they had time to reflect and they are in a calmer space. This will prevent small arguments from escalating to such a degree that it is almost unsolvable. It always helps if both agree to have regular alone time, especially in a busy household environment, where time is dedicated to each other whether it is celebrating achievements or resolving problems.


2. Household Chores


2.1. Problem


Chores can be one of the main causes of unnecessary conflict within a relationship. Many couples only realize the tremendous effect of taking responsibility for household chores after they move in together for the first time. If one partner is left to take responsibility for all the chores, frustration, anger and resentment towards the other partner will soon culminate. Many couples fail to realize that they have unrealistic expectations when it comes to how much their partner should contribute to household responsibilities.


2.2. Possible Solutions


A good starting point to prevent possible conflict includes both partners discussing his/her expectations regarding household chores. Once identified, both will know what is expected of them and what their responsibilities are. It does not necessarily mean that these expectations are realistic, but the outcome is effective communication and clarity.


The next step will then be to identify a few items that both partners ‘like’ on their chore list. For example, one partner might enjoy doing the laundry while another is more comfortable with washing dishes. It allows the couple to establish a chore chart that equally divides housework, but at the same time makes it to be somewhat enjoyable for both. This chart must also take into consideration both partner’s work schedule it will be of no use if a chart is established and there are items on the list that cannot be completed due to requirements/responsibilities of work hours.


Being in a relationship will always require teamwork and both partners must be willing to work together. Not only will it prevent unnecessary conflict, but it will allow both partners to take responsibility and enjoy each other even while doing household chores.


3. Finances


3.1. Problem


It is very rewarding to be able to spend one's well-earned monthly income, but usually, the problem arises when couples do not always agree on how and when that money should be spent. If both partners have a full-time/ part-time job, they may contribute their income equally towards monthly expenses and necessities.


Some enjoy spending their money on luxury items and have no concerns when it comes to making unnecessary debt. Then some prefer to save for their future. It is differences like these that need to be addressed for both partners needs and concerns to be met when it comes to their finances. In other cases where partners prefer to keep their income separately, the non- disclosure of the state of their affairs may cause tension.


3.2. Possible Solutions


It will help to determine your partner's spending habits at an early stage in the relationship and if the budget will be shared or kept separate. Taking into consideration that your relationship with finances may differ from your partner's as we all come from diverse backgrounds; therefore possibly influencing one's views of finances.


A joint budget may help avoid arguments and encourage each other to work together to fulfil the financial needs of both. If a budget is established the couple must ensure to have monthly financial meetings. A budget plan will help create clarity regarding the long-term goals that both have.


Couples that are supportive of one another will be more aware of these goals, thus increasing their sensitivity on how to spend their money. Should the couple find it difficult to compromise it may be beneficial to get a third party involved such as a counsellor or a financial adviser.


4. Intimacy with Partner


4.1. Problem


Being intimate with one’s partner carries such great significance in a relationship. Once it no longer holds priority or there is a lack of intimacy, feelings of rejection and frustration may occur. Many individuals view intimacy as a time to connect with their partner and if this is taken away from them, they may no longer feel loved and cherished by their partner.


One of the biggest challenges for new parents is the misconception that the relationship between them will remain the same. With a growing family, the relationship dynamic can undergo several changes.


4.2. Possible Solutions


The first step usually involves communicating one's sexual needs to each other. There should be a platform for honesty and openness when discussing intimacy, creating a safe space to share their thoughts and feelings.

Being aware of what makes your partner feel comfortable and what he/she enjoys will only enhance the shared sexual experience and eliminates any areas that do not work. Once this has taken place, the couple can work towards a compromise that will work for the needs of both. Intimacy involves being vulnerable and occasionally getting out of your comfort zone but always respecting one another’s sexual boundaries. For example, if one partner chooses to only be intimate once a week, the other might feel frustrated as their needs might not be met.

Therefore, communication is so important in understanding and negotiating what will work and what won’t. The key is to love and respect one another, sexual intimacy will heighten once a couple try meeting each other in the middle and realizes that this is an experience that should be enjoyable for both and sometimes involves being selfless.


5. Infidelity


5.1. Problem


So many relationships have been ruined and marriages end up in divorce because of infidelity. This has such an enormous effect on a relationship, the individual who is the victim of a partner being unfaithful usually experience feelings of betrayal and deep despair and rejection. It is usually very difficult to salvage a relationship after the trust is broken.


5.2. Possible Solutions


The main focus after infidelity has occurred should be to rebuild trust in the relationship. There are various ways this can be done:


5.2.1. The partner responsible for the infidelity:


5.2.1.1. Must take full responsibility for what has happened and how it has affected their partner.


5.2.1.2. He/she must have patience with the healing process. It usually gets better with time; the trust needs to be rebuilt and this is not something that can be rushed.


5.2.1.3. There should always be open and honest communication among each other.


5.2.1.4. Informing your partner of your whereabouts and letting them know what your plans are for the day. Also, if you have made a commitment or promise to your partner, to follow through with it. This can be small things like going to shop to get milk if you agreed to do so. (Gaining your partner's trust in smaller areas will help speed up the healing process).


5.2.1.5. Allowing your partner to express their feelings and emotions regarding what happened.


5.2.1.6. Having patience and supporting your partner in any way they need.



5.2.2. The partner who was affected:


5.2.2.1. Give yourself time to work through your emotions.


5.2.2.2. It is very important to be able to forgive your partner. If you are unable to do so, it will be very hard to move forward.


5.2.2.3. Always having open and honest communication with your partner. (This forces you not to keep these emotions to yourself).


5.2.2.4. You must be able to focus on the present. If you constantly refer to the past it will delay the healing process.


5.2.2.5. It is difficult to not question your partner’s every move and intention after such an event. But, for the relationship to work you must be able to give your partner the necessary space he/she needs to prove to you that they want to make it work and regain your trust.


5.2.2.6. Being sure of yourself and what you want for your future is crucial. Many individuals who have gone through this has asked the question: “Am I doing the right thing by trying to salvage this relationship?”. This is something only you can decide, once you are sure of what you want you must set your mind to work towards those goals.



#couplescounselling #marriagecounselling #registeredcounsellor #capetowntherapy #happymarriage


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