How many times per month does the average couple argue? If you guessed close to 20 times, you’d be correct.
Not every fight culminates with one person spending the night on the couch. Yet, there are myriad hot-button topics that can polarize even the most loving pair.
From problems in the bedroom to spats over finances, there are no shortage of concerns that can threaten to untie your couplehood if you let them. There are also plenty of well-meaning friends and family members ready to offer their unwarranted relationship advice.
This is where great communication skills come into play.
When we recognize the potholes in our relationships and drive into them head-on, confronting them rather than skidding around them, we’re better able to reach an agreeable solution.
Today, we’re sharing some of the most common concerns that couples today are facing. Then, we’ll discuss how marriage and relationship counseling can help us turn challenges into opportunities for connection and growth.
Ready to learn more? Let’s get started.
1. Misaligned Communication Styles
How does your partner feel loved, adored, and cherished? Do you know what actions or sentiments can turn him on and off in a second flat? Likewise, do you know these things about yourself?
A recent study revealed that poor communication is the number-one reason why most couples split up. Yet, this doesn’t always mean the two parties don’t speak to each other.
Rather, it means they aren’t speaking in ways that the other person can relate to. Are you always yelling at each other, tossing out insults or giving the silent treatment?
Take the time to realign how you speak to your partner. Notice the tones, phrases and body gestures that elicit a positive response. When you’re trying to communicate in the clearest way possible, it’s easier to reach common ground, or at least have a conversation that doesn’t end with a slammed door.
2. Physical Performance Issues
Surveys show that one in four men is racked by feelings of inadequacy during sex. The reason? They claim mainstream media has given women a false sense of what to expect behind bedroom doors.
For their part, women are equally self-conscious. In fact, one in 10 women never feels confident about her body or abilities during sex.
In some cases, this performance anxiety stems from a true medical condition, such as erectile dysfunction or loss of libido. Others are worried that they aren’t up to par with their partner’s expectations or will fall short of desirability.
If this issue affects your relationship, don’t sweep it under the rug. Though it’s not the most comfortable topic to discuss, bring it up at your next couples counseling session. Your therapist can walk you through ways to make intimacy more enjoyable and less nerve-wracking for you both.
3. Infidelity and Affairs
It isn’t always a lipstick stain on a white collar.
Sometimes, cheating looks like an emotional affair, where your partner speaks in confidence to another member of the opposite sex, sharing mutual feelings of attraction.
Even today, where one-night stands and short-term flings still run rampant, there’s a new ream of infidelity to contend with: virtual adultery.
From sexting to entering into an internet relationship, there are plenty of ways your lover could betray you behind a smartphone. Thus, it comes as no surprise that 34% of women and 62% of men admit to snooping on their partner’s phone.
Trust should be the center of any solid union. If a betrayal, whether emotional or physical, is tearing yours apart, it’s wise to seek professional relationship help. Often, the presence of a third party can help you work past feelings of hurt and bitterness toward restorative healing.
4. Core Mindset Differences
Sometimes, saving a relationship means giving it your best, then finding a respectful way to bring it to an end.
Do you and your partner agree on the major issues and what you want out of life? If not, this is an example of a time where the end of the road might be drawing near.
While there are many important issues you should see eye-to-eye on, one of the most common differences that drive couples apart is a willingness to have children.
If you’re confident that you want little ones in your future but your partner is unwilling to budge on his no-kids stance, ask yourself if the relationship is worth saving. The same goes for diverging opinions on religious faith, where to put down roots, how to handle finances and other foundational concerns.
Sometimes, couples have no real grounds to argue other than they’ve grown tired of the time they spend together.
Maybe you married too soon and you feel as though you’ve run out of things to do together. Or, perhaps you’ve been together for decades and the brand-new shine has long lost its sparkle.
While there’s a comfort and familiarity to your routine, don’t be afraid to mix it up a little! Go on dates that are outside your comfort zone and try new things together. In other words, seek to find that initial spark that once led you to each other.
A professional couples counselor can help you reignite this flame by reminding you of what you love most about your partner. If you need ideas and inspiration on how to bring the excitement and passion back into your relationship, don’t hesitate to contact one today.
6. Unrealistic Expectations
We can’t stress this enough: You cannot change another person.
Entering into a relationship expecting your partner to bend to your requests is unrealistic and a dangerous breeding ground for resentment.
Do you feel pressured to adjust the way you live your life to fit the niche that your partner has created for you? In the same vein, are you having a hard time squeezing his actions into your definition of the perfect mate?
There is a way to grow, adapt and transform together. However, this has to be a resolution that your partner makes internally. You may be able to push hard enough to get the short-term results you want, but in the end, old habits always rear their head.
Try not to focus on where your partner falls short. Instead, praise where he excels. By readjusting your perspective, you’ll be better able to love him because of, not despite, his faults.
7. Addictive Behaviors
Research reveals that one in seven Americans suffers from substance addiction. Does your partner abuse drugs, alcohol or both? If so, it’s natural to feel isolated, concerned and angry.
The first thing you can do is help him or her is to seek professional therapy and counseling. Despite your desire to judge, belittle or shame your partner, work to end the affliction rather than allow it to fester.
Working together on this aim doesn’t signal that you condone the behavior. Rather, it shows that you’re invested in the relationship and your partner’s well-being.
While treatment is ongoing, you may find it helpful to attend courses designed to help spouses and partners of addicts find support and guidance. Of course, if the addiction continues once treatment is up and your partner expresses no real desire to change, this can be a red flag that it’s time to get out of the relationship.
The same goes for abuse. If you’re the victim of domestic abuse in any form, contact the National Domestic Violence hotline immediately to get the support you need.
8. Feeling Unsupported
One cornerstone of a successful and fulfilling relationship is mutual support. Even if your partner doesn’t understand or enjoy your hobbies or work endeavors, you shouldn’t feel isolated in them.
Things can go awry if you feel discouraged from pursuing your interests or ambitions due to the actions of your partner. For instance, if you’re considering asking for a promotion at work, you should feel empowered to do so, not made to second-guess your decision.
The same goes for emotional support needed during difficult times. If you’re going through a rough patch with your family or friends, you should be able to lean on your partner for care. Anything less can leave you feeling spiteful.
Though it can feel like a personal attack, remember that a lack of support from your partner is often a result of him projecting his own insecurities onto you. Talk to him about why you’re feeling alone and encourage him to open up about his own desires and dreams.
9. One-Sided Responsibility
An imbalance in shared responsibility often appears after a child is born. Suddenly, one parent is up for late-night feedings, diaper changes and rocking while the other is snoring peacefully in bed.
While this can be especially frustrating, it points again to the importance of clear, ongoing communication in a relationship. Your partner may not know that you’re upset, exhausted or angry if you don’t express your feelings in an honest way.
While it might seem obvious that the balance is off-kilter, remember that bringing home a newborn is a time of upheaval. No one is in a clear mindset and everyone is running on fumes. It’s possible that your partner isn’t as aware of the events or how they’re affecting you.
While parenting is one arena, general household duties are another. Even if you don’t have children, it’s easy to resent your partner when you’re always the one taking out the trash, making meals, doing laundry and planning date nights, to boot.
A licensed couples counselor can help you lay the groundwork for progressive and meaningful conversations that make sure your point gets across. Use these tactics to express your irritation and suggest ways to share the load.
10. Mental Health Issues
Approximately one in five U.S. adults have some form of mental health disorder. That equals 43.8 million people or 18.5% of the population.
As such, it’s likely that you or someone you know is affected by this grip. Depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety are three of the most common conditions in this category.
It can be difficult to work through mental health symptoms because they’re difficult for those on the outside to understand. You might find it difficult to connect with your partner because he’s shut off and not in the mood to talk. Over time, this breakdown of communication leads to a lack of time spent together and intimacy issues in the bedroom.
Instead, it’s best to address the concern head-on. Talking about your difficulties and working through them as a couple can bring you closer than you thought possible. This is especially the case with mental health disorders, which can feel isolating and demeaning at times.
This is another example of a time to seek professional support. In addition to couples therapy, your loved one may also require treatment at a mental health facility to get back on his feet. These programs can be either outpatient or inpatient depending on the need and can do wonders for your relationship and quality of life.
Relationship Advice You Can Trust
When you’re in the throes of relationship woes, talking it out might be the farthest thing on your mind. However, staying silent can deepen animosity and hurt.
There are times when it’s wise for you and your partner to go your separate ways, and times when it’s worth it to stick it out and work through your issues. Only a couples counselor can provide the professional relationship advice required to get you through those hurdles and confidently on the other side.
These are only a few of the hot-button issues plaguing modern couples today. Whether you’re affected by a particular one on the list or have a unique issue at hand, we’d love to chat.
We offer marriage and relationship counseling services as well as individual therapy sessions for mood disorders, mental health issues and more. Contact us today to learn more and take the first step toward restoring your relationship and reclaiming your future.