There are times in all relationships when things don't run smoothly.
Often, this is because people have different expectations, are distracted
by other issues, or have difficulty expressing what is on their minds so
other people can really hear and understand what is being said.
Sometimes they just don't know what to do to make a good relationship.
Common Relationship Issues
1) How we give/receive love in different ways
We often give love in the way we want to receive love, however, our partner may give and want to receive love in a different way. For example, you are giving your partner gifts but what they want is quality time together. Some of the ways of giving love are through: words of affirmation, doing practical things for the other person, giving gifts, spending quality time together and through physical touch. If you and your partner have a different way of feeling loved, this can lead to both of you feeling unloved even though you are each trying to show love to eachother. For more information and support in recognizing you and your partner’s primary way of feeling loved, you may want to read more about these differing ways of giving love through Dr Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages.
2) Emotional Support
Emotional support for each other is vital to any relationship. This means giving your partner a feeling of being backed, supported; you're behind him or her no matter what. This does not necessarily mean agreeing with one another all the time. Realistically, no two people will agree on everything every time. What it does mean is treating your partner in a way that says, "I love you and trust you, and I'm with you through anything."
Emotional demands however can damage the relationship. These may be:
Insisting that your partner spend all their time with you.
Insisting that they give up their friends or that you both hang around only your friends. Insisting that you give approval of the clothes they wear.
Making sure that you make all the decisions about how you spend your time together and where and when you go out.
Making them feel guilty when they spend time with their family.
Making sure you win all the arguments.
Always demanding that your feelings are the most important.
Each of these is an emotional demand, and can damage the relationship. Remember, also, that the words "I love you; I like being in a relationship with you; You're important to me," are not demands and need to be said every now and then in any relationship.
Time Spent Together and Apart
Time spent apart and time spent together is another common relationship issue. You may enjoy time together with your partner and your partner may want some time together with you, but you also migt enjoy time alone or with other friends. If this gets interpreted as, "my partner doesn't care for me as much as I need" or "I resent the time my partner spends alone because they don't want to spend it with me and they must not really love me," you may be headed for a disastrous result by jumping to a conclusion that is not based in reality. Check out with your partner what time alone means and share your feelings about what you need from the relationship in terms of time together. Perhaps you can reach a compromise without you feeling rejected or neglected or thinking of your partner as selfish, inconsiderate, or non-caring. Demanding what you want, regardless of your partner's needs, usually ends up driving your partner away.
Giving up your personal friends should not be a requirement of being in a relationship. Neither should you assume that your partner will like your personal friends as much as you do. You might ask: "Which of my friends do you enjoy seeing and which would you rather I see by myself or at times when I'm not with you?"
There is no reason to share with your partner a friend who they don’t enjoy spending time with. You can see those friends somewhere else or you can see them at home at a time when your partner is out doing something else.
You don’t have to give up your friends who mean a lot to you. It's important to talk with your partner about friendships with others, to negotiate them and to understand that each of you needs to continue your friendships even when you are intimately involved with one another.
How do you and your partner make decisions about handling money? Are decisions made individually or mutually? How are the priorities set about how money is to be earned? Spent? Who pays the bills? How much money goes into savings and for what purposes? How are big (tuition, childcare, rent, car payments) items and expenses decided on? Does each person in the relationship control their own money or is it pooled? Is each partner expected to add to the mutual income? If only one is to work, how is it decided who it will be?
If you find that you and your partner have differing expectations, it is a good idea to make time to talk about them after stating your feelings, wishes, and desires and to listen carefully to those of your partner. Decisions that might be easy to make when you're making them only for yourself might be more difficult when they involve someone else and the best solutions might not be those you think of just on your own. Discussion and cooperation may not give you any magic solutions to difficult financial problems, but knowing you and your partner agree about how to deal with the situation will relieve at least a bit of the stress.
Coping with Changing Expectations in the Relationship
Relationships change over time. This isn’t good or bad, but is true for all relationships. What you want from a relationship when you are dating, might be quite different from what you want after you have been together a few years. Changes in other areas of your life, outside your relationship, can also impact on what you want and need from the relationship. The most important thing, is listening carefully and respectfully to what each person wants, and clearly and carefully communicating what each of you wants. Change of any sort can be uncomfortable, yet because it is inevitable, welcoming change as an opportunity to enhance the relationship is better than trying to keep change from happening. Planning for changes together can help the relationship to grow into new and exciting places.
Tips for building healthy relationships
1. Create a safe environment where you can trust and share openly without fear.
Don’t interrupt, even if you have to put your hand over your mouth to stop yourself.
Learn to fight fairly. No name calling. Don’t make threats. Apologize when you
know you should. If you’re too angry to really listen, stop! Go into another room,
take space for yourself, breathe and “calm down.”
Remember: your partner is not the enemy.
2. Separate the facts from the feelings
What beliefs and feelings get triggered in you during conflicts? Ask yourself: Is there something from my past that is affecting how I’m seeing the situation now? The main question you want to ask: Is this about him or her, or is it really about me? What’s the real truth? Once you’re able to separate facts from feelings, you’ll see your partner more clearly and be able to resolve conflicts from clarity.
3. Connect with the different parts of yourself
We are not a solo instrument. We’re more like a choir or an orchestra with several voices. What is your mind saying? What is your heart saying? What is your body saying? What is your ‘gut’ saying? For example: My mind is saying ‘definitely leave her,’ but my heart says ‘I really love her.’ Let these different voices or parts of you co-exist and speak to one another. In this way, you will find an answer that comes from your whole self.
4. Develop and nurture compassion
Practice observing yourself and your partner without judging. Part of you might judge, but you don’t have to identify with it. Judging closes a door. The opposite of judging is compassion. When you are compassionate, you are open, connected, and more available to communicating respectfully with your partner. As you learn to see your partner compassionately, you will be more able to choose your response rather than just reacting.
5. Create a “we” that can contain two “I’s”
The foundation for a thriving, growing, mutually-supportive relationship is to be separate and connected. In co-dependent relationships, each person sacrifices part of him or her self, compromising the relationship as a whole. When you are separate and connected, each individual “I” contributes to the creation of a “we” that is stronger than the sum of its parts. Differences between you and your partner do not need to be negatives. You don’t need to be with someone who shares all of your interests and views. We may sometimes fear that these differences are incompatibilities, but in fact, they often keep a relationship exciting and full of life.
6. Partner, heal thyself
Don’t expect your partner to fill your emotional holes, and don’t try to fill theirs. Each of us can only heal ourselves. Your partner, however, can be supportive as you work with yourself, and vice versa. In fact, living in a loving relationship is healing in and of itself.
7. Ask questions when you’re unsure or are making assumptions
We can often make up our own stories or interpretations about what our partners’ behaviour means. For example: “She doesn’t want to be physically intimate = she must not really love me anymore.” Asking questions and listening to the answers from your whole self — heart, gut, mind and body can help us to avoid assumptions. Equally important is to hear what’s not being said — the facts and feeling that you sense might be unspoken.
8. Make time for your relationship
No matter who you are or what your work is, you need to nurture your relationship. Make sure you schedule time for the well-being of your relationship. That includes scheduling dates and also taking downtime together. Frequently create a nurturing space together by shutting off all things technological and digital. Like a garden, the more you tend to your relationship, the more it will grow.
9. Say the “hard things” from love
Become aware of the hard things that you’re not talking about. How does that feel? No matter what you’re feeling in a situation, channel the energy of your emotions so that you say what you need to say in a constructive manner.
10. Express and respect each other’s wants and needs
Be aware of what you and your partner want for yourselves and what you want from the relationship. Let one another know what your needs are. Realize that your partner won’t be able to meet all of your needs. Some of these needs will have to be met outside the relationship. Be willing to negotiate and compromise on the things you want from eachother.
11. Respect Differences
Do not demand that a partner change to meet all your expectations. Work to accept the differences that you see between your ideal and the reality. Try to see things from the other person’s point of view. This doesn't mean that you must agree with each other, but rather that you can expect yourself and your partner to understand and respect your differences, your points of view and your separate needs. Where there are major differences in your expectations, needs, opinions or views, try to negotiate. Have compassion for each other and yourself if you realize that there are too many differences for the relationship to work.