Edmonton Psychologist | Top Five Issues for Couples

When it comes to having a healthy relationship there are many things that need to be worked through, some before the commitment and many after. We all bring our own ideas and values into the relationship that sometimes collide with the other’s. In a long term committed marriage or common law relationship it becomes extremely important to uncover our personal beliefs and how we will manage problems when they come up.

Issues for Couples

If we aspire to have a safe and loving relationship we need to put the work in. Relationships do not work themselves out. It takes two people to make healthy choices that will improve the outcome of a loving relationship.

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So today I want to address the top Issues for Couples, old and new and how to best resolve them.

The first challenging issue most couples face is communication. Unbelievably 95% of our communication is miscommunicated. According to this statistic it seems most of what we say is not properly understood or interpreted as it was intended. It is important that we check in with our partner regularly to be sure we are understood.

Relationships are hard work

We must work to ensure what has been communicated is not taken the wrong way. Being misunderstood leads to hurt feelings and a breakdown in the relationship. If you find you are always coming up against this issue and are unable to resolve it, its okay to ask for help from a therapist.

At Rediscover Psychology our therapists can help you say what you mean to your partner. We work hard to help you be sure your point is getting across the way you want it to and in a respectful manner. We aid in clearing up miscommunications that have come up and especially those that keep recurring.

Second most common issues for couples

The second challenging issue many couples deal with is in the area of finance. This is usually something that starts to become a problem in seasoned relationships. We have all heard the adage opposites attract. This is no exception around finances in a relationship. This scenario has one person who likes to spend a lot and then the other is a saver. It is best to discuss this by being open and honest about your habits and beliefs around finance and money.

Ideally this conversation should happen before you enter the committed relationship so there are less surprises. Unfortunately, this is hardly done and that’s why it made the top five issues that couples face. This is a very contentious issue when left unchecked.

Multiple Issues for Couples that are preventable

The third area committed couples struggle with is in the way they deal with conflict. We don’t always know the best way to deal with it but there are four main categories that we all fall into. The first is critical conflict. This is where we are overly critical of our partner and tend to point fingers of blame. This is the most common type of conflict. We might say things like “you never do this, or you always do that”. Master couples learn to recognize this and correct the behaviour much quicker.

One way to correct it quickly is to move from using “you” statements to “I feel” statements. We tell our partner how we feel and what we need from them to feel better. We all come into a relationship with our own well ingrained behaviours. We don’t take the time to examine our habits and instead focus on others around us when we need to blame a problem on someone.

Words can be very harmful

The next popular type of conflict is contemptuous conflict. This is the type of conflict that is the most harmful and detrimental to the relationship. It creates long term injury in the other person. Examples of this type is name calling, putdowns, and sarcasm. These types of behaviours aim to hurt our partner by going deep down and cutting them. We feel hurt and want our partner to hurt back. When we name call we show the other person they cannot trust us.

We are supposed to be the one who loves them the most. The first to do to change this is to be able to recognize when we are contemptuous or getting near it. Instead, we should create a culture of love, respect, admiration and fondness towards one another. This keeps us from lashing out in the heat of the moment and causes us to bite our tongue.

Some conflict is good

The third type of conflict is the defensive one. This is where we are protecting our viewpoints and when we feel attacked, we attack back. There is a lot of back and forth with this type of conflict. Attack and then counterattack. The key here is to identify when this style of conflict is in play and to take responsibility on your part in adding to the conflict. Life is constantly changing and throwing new scenarios for us to practice negotiation skills.

The fourth type of conflict found in relationships is stonewalling. This is the shut down and shut out style. You may get emotionally flooded and it causes you to walk away in the middle of the conflict to go do something else. Your partner will likely see that you don’t value them, and it can feel like abandonment if they have abandonment trauma. To overcome this, you will need to set up rules of engagement that are accepted by each partner.

Think before becoming parents

The next issue couples face is in parenting. Ideally this is a subject that should be addressed before becoming committed to one another. This is a common issue where rules will need to be discussed and put in place. Each partner comes into the relationship with a certain value system so it’s important to discover these and come to an agreement where the two systems overlap and let that guide you in solidifying your parenting style.

Sex is the fifth area commonly found as an issue in relationships. Typically, when this is present it’s due to one partner having a high sex drive and the other low. It’s equally important to not withhold or force sex in the relationship. There needs to be effective communication on how to keep our needs met as well as the other’s. Problem solving in the moment will also be of high importance. Having a therapist’s guidance in this area is a great place to begin.

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