Every couple has their unique strengths and weaknesses. At the same time, there are a few major relationship problems that underwrite almost every marriage. If you’re finding yourself fighting, feeling distant, or otherwise “off” with your spouse, check out these top 5 common underlying problems and see if addressing them might get your marriage on track again.
You’ve probably heard many times “communication is key.” And it’s true. All of the below relationship problems rely on effective communication skills. Unfortunately, this isn’t something we’re taught how to do. Common communication mistakes include refusing to talk, nagging, sarcasm, using angry or accusatory language, and using “you” and “yes, but.” The symptoms of bad communication include feeling ignored, anxious, frustrated, or out of touch with your partner.
You can help your marriage immensely by learning how to communicate in a relationship. Start with the no-crossovers rule. Crossovers are when you start talking about your partner instead of yourself–what s/he did, should do, shouldn’t have done, etc. They bring up icy walls of defense in the conversation and are the #1 trigger of arguments. Instead, stick to talking about yourself, what you feel, want, etc. For example, if you need to address something your partner has done, say “When you….I felt….”
Even if you or your spouse is not “a jealous person,” jealousy may be hurting your marriage. The problem is when even momentary feelings of suspicion or abandonment go unaddressed. If you feel jealousy, don’t just brush it off. First, look at yourself. You may be projecting your own anxieties onto your spouse. In this case, your jealousy can give you valuable insight into your own issues. Whatever the reality, unspoken jealousy will only cause tension, disengagement and resentment in your marriage. Address the issue–without accusing–so you can rebuild trust in your marriage.
3. Conflict resolution
If you resolve a problem poorly, you haven’t resolved it at all. While it may take a while to heal fully from a big upset, good problem-solving should leave both spouses feeling satisfied and that the marriage has grown stronger because of it. Neither spouse should feel compromised. When a big problem comes up do you immediately give in to your spouse? Do you fight until you get what you want? Do you refuse to talk about it at all, or disengage during the conversation? Any of these habits only build depression, resentment and distance in your relationship. Follow this 3-step guide to conflict resolution instead.
Differences about frequency and type of sexual connection is one of the biggest relationship problems couples face. Sex and intimacy is important in bonding you emotionally and mentally, and in keeping you happy and healthy. When one or both spouse’s preferences aren’t being met, it can impact your mood and spiral out into many other relationship problems. If your spouse feels physically and/or emotionally distant, try asking about sex. Is it not frequent enough? Is there something s/he wants? This is especially important to talk about after illnesses, surgeries, physical changes, or big life events that may impact your spouse’s physical or mental experience with sex.
Some people a naturally very positive, while others tend to be neutral or seem pessimistic. The fact is, your marriage needs positivity. Relationships feed off of positive interactions. As marriages age, we start taking our spouses for granted and tend to show less small displays of affection and positivity such as compliments or holding hands. This can leave a marriage feeling cold, empty, and disconnected. On the other hand, studies show that being supportive, enthusiastic and loving towards your spouse will bost the positive energy levels in your home and start reciprocal positivity. Luckily, turning negativity around it easy–you just have to give to get. Start with a small goal of giving your spouse 5 compliments every day and you’ll see results almost instantly.