Cultivating and nurturing a healthy romantic dynamic takes, well, work—which might help explain why folks so commonly say a given partnership just isn’t working. Just as our personalities, experiences, and biological makeups are all distinct, so too are our communication styles, values, and mental-health experiences. And within the framework of a partnered relationship, those last three factors are all culprits of common relationship problems couples face.
A recent survey conducted by relationship-building app Couply asked 1,000 participants about the biggest challenge in they face in their relationship, offering multiple options for the answer. According to results, the three most common obstacles of the top 10 were rooted in communication (56 percent), lack of quality time (37 percent), and mental-health issues (35 percent).
Keep reading to learn more about the three common relationship problems couples are facing, and two relationship therapists’ advice for facing them head-on.
3 common relationship problems couples are currently facing and how to resolve each
1. Communications issues
Many folks have different communication styles and preferences, and a healthy dose of patience and respect is necessary for discovering how everyone involved most effectively listens and shares. But, there are also plenty of cases in which ineffective communication (or even the complete lack of communication) breeds relationship content.
Deanna Shahady, LMFT, a relationship therapist who works with Couply, says that one reason couples commonly face communication issues together has to do with something they’re personally navigating. And at the root of the problem is often a situation of folks “not taking the other person into consideration,” she says.
Honesty and self-awareness are key.
To work through this, Shahady says that honesty and self-awareness are key because they can help you respond instead of react. This shift can convey to a partner that you do care about what they’re saying and feeling. Also consider talking to your partner about how they feel when communication issues—like getting defensive, angry, or shutting down—strike. Taking their perspective into account can lead to everyone having a softer approach, which can, in turn, help the overall communication in the relationship.
If you find that the communication woes in your relationship aren’t exactly easy to work through, licensed marriage and family therapist Omar Ruiz, LMFT, recommends talking to your partner about going to couples counseling, where a neutral third-party can facilitate healthy .
2. Not spending enough quality time together
Just because you’re sitting next to someone who doesn’t mean you’re spending quality time with them, says Shahady, who adds that there are two main components of quality time: being interactive and intentional.
Whether you’re on the couch or taking a walk with your partner, there are some simple ways to make sure you’re actually clocking in quality time. Shahady recommends scheduling date nights to tick the intentionality component. Plus, that’ll give you the opportunity to chat with your partner, which also gets to the interactive component. To make the date more interactive, Shahady suggesting asking questions to ensure meaningful conversation is happening.
And if you’re strapped for time—which does happen—Shahady recomends being up-front and saying, “Hey, I really want to spend time with you. I want to hear what you have to say, but I don’t have the bandwidth right now. Can we come back to this?” By posing that question, you make it clear to your partner that you’re intent on spending quality time with them even though right now might not be the opportune moment.
3. Mental health
Life these past few years amid the COVID landscape has led people to experience a wide range of emotions, including anger and fear, which Ruiz says has introduced or exacerbated “issues such as anxiety, depression, and mood—[and] begun to impact the overall well-being of couples.”
But regardless of what may have brought on or piqued mental health issues, they are expansive and highly personalized. That’s why the best place to start for getting help (on a personal and relationship level) starts with seeking a professional.
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