Relationship Problems

marriage_counsellingMost of us want to find a partner to share our lives with. When we finally fall in love and commit to a relationship that we believe will last us to old age, we have expectations that we will act together to realise our dreams.

Inevitably though, every couple will experience relationship difficulties. Couples will always be confronted and sometimes overwhelmed by challenges they face, but mostly they are able to deal with them and move on. However sometimes these challenges leave each partner feeling alienated and alone and unable to sort out the issues, no matter how hard they try.

The same old arguments occur, with the same frustrating outcomes, and both partners can feel stuck. As time goes on one or both may start considering separation. Sadly, separation and divorce statistics are high, yet many of the difficulties that threaten the survival of relationships can be sorted out, with the right help.

What are causes of relationship problems?

  • Neglect of the relationship
  • Conflict
  • Poor management of differences between partners
  • Withdrawing care
  • Loss of compassion
  • Times of crisis

Recognising when there are relationship problems

  • All relationships face difficulties, and most are resolved over time. However when the problems become entrenched and seem unable to be solved, it is important to seek professional help. It is far better to resolve the problems than to dissolve the relationship. Unfortunately, research shows that the average couple waits six years before seeking help once the problem is recognised, and only a small percentage seek the professional help they need. Half of all marriages that end do so in the first seven years. These statistics are very sad.
  • When there are any signs of the relationship problems outlined in the previous section, then it is time to consider seeking help. Obviously partners will try to deal with relationship issues themselves, but when problems continue to occur it becomes clear that professional help is needed.
  • Ideally both partners would agree that assistance is required to gain a new perspective and to try something different for the relationship to become unstuck, and for mending to occur. However if your partner is reluctant or unwilling to seek help, then it can be very helpful for you to seek help first. You can’t make your partner change, but changes you make can start the domino effect of change for the relationship.

Ten tips for a happy relationship

Actively keep your love alive by valuing and nurturing your relationship in the following ways.

  1. Plan regular time together doing something you both enjoy.
  2. Give your partner the benefit of the doubt rather than assuming the worst. Be curious and seek to understand why your partner is acting the way he/she is.
  3. Make sure the positive experiences in your relationship outweigh the negative experiences by five to one, and make sure you show your appreciation for your partner’s caring actions.
  4. When there is conflict make sure you calm yourselves by taking time out when emotions are high, and coming back to the discussion later.
  5. When mistakes are made, make sure you both work to repair the damage.
  6. Be there to support your partner in times of difficulty, and encourage him or her in work, friendships and leisure activities.
  7. Be prepared to be influenced by what is important to your partner, just as your partner needs to be influenced by you.
  8. Have a ‘team mentality’. When there are difficulties, talk about what ‘we’ need to do about it.
  9. Have high standards for your relationship, and stick to them yourself.
  10. Keep your sense of humour, and make sure you have fun.

Other resources for relationship problems

The following websites provide helpful information.

Family Relationships Onlinefamily_relationships_online


Relationships Australia
Phone: 1300 364 277


Mensline Australiamenslineaus
Phone: 1300 78 99 78

Helpful books include those written by Dr John Gottman. Some of his most recent books are:

Source: The Australian Psychological Society Limited 2015