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10 Most Common Relationship Problems – and Solutions

All couples face problems in their relationships, but not all problems lead to breaking up. Relationships fail for different reasons; the key is to identify what’s really going on in your relationship and work with your boyfriend or husband to find the best solution.

Is anger one of the relationship problems you’re struggling with? Better to let it out than keep it in! New research from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology has found that expressing anger can be helpful in a relationship. It’s not always best to “forgive and forget” in marriage, which is what I advised in How to Stop Worrying About Your Relationship Problems. Sometimes expressing anger is a helpful and honest way to solve a relationship problem. The key is learning how to express your feelings without damaging your bond with your boyfriend or husband.

However, anger isn’t one of the biggest or most common relationship problems. The short-term discomfort of an angry but honest conversation isn’t a reason relationships fail. In fact, anger can actually improve the long-term health of a a relationship.

Here’s what Fredrich Nietzsche said about unhappy relationships: “It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.” If you’re not treating your boyfriend or husband like a friend (with respect, love, generosity, honesty, acceptance, unselfishness, etc), then you’re weakening the foundation of your relationship. And that is one of them biggest relationship problems. Let’s dig into more of them…

10 Common Relationship Problems – and How to Solve Them

I found this list of relationship problems in an old psychology textbook, from my undergraduate psychology days. The book simply listed a few reasons why relationships break up, but didn’t describe the problems or offer tips for solving them.

Your job? Scan through this list. Decide which relationship problem stands out to you. Then, write about it in the comments section below. Tell me who is causing the problem, how you think it can be solved, and why you think it’s worth solving. You’ll find that writing about your relationship problems will help you see them differently, which can help you find the solution that suits you and your partner.

1. Broken promises, lying, cheating, stealing

These violations of trust almost always result in relationship problems, and is an obvious reasons a relationship fails. If the basic trust in a love relationship is repeatedly broken, distrust and insecurity builds. Motivation to stay together decreases. Couples in loving relationships can learn to reconcile their differences – and even rebuild trust in you boyfriend after an affair.

The solution? It depends on whether it’s you or your partner who is lying, cheating, and stealing. If it’s you, it’ll be easier to solve this relationship problem. If it’s your boyfriend or husband, then you have a little more work to do.

2. Imbalance of power in relationships

Couples may be more likely to break up when one partner has more decision-making power than the other. For example, if your husband makes all the decisions about activities, friends, financial matters, household matters, and vacations, then he holds all the power. This means your marriage isn’t balanced, and it’s easy to tip it over into serious relationship problems. Both you and your husband have to equally share the decision-making power.

The solution to this problem is directly related to who has more power in your relationship. How you approach this relationship problem depends on your communication style, ability to negotiate, and willingness to change.

3. Acceptance of stereotypes in relationships

relationship problems fixes solutionsThis was once a common problem in relationships (which is why it was in the list of “most common relationship problems” in my old psychology textbook), but it still exists today. Here’s an example of a stereotype in a marriage: husbands make more money than wives. Other faulty but still common gender stereotypes include beliefs such as “Women are supposed to stay at home and raise the kids” and “Men don’t need emotional connection.”

The solution? Look at your relationship from an outsider’s perspective. Do you fall into stereotypical gender roles? Explore them with your boyfriend or husband. Even better, describe your relationship in the comments section below. Writing will give you a different perspective into your relationship, which will help you heal.

4. Isolation from friends and family

This isn’t just a relationship problem, it’s the foundation of an abusive relationship. Are you and your boyfriend or husband isolated from healthy connections with loved ones? If so, who is initiating this isolation? It may be based on fear and insecurity. New couples may isolate themselves from other people because they’re so in love and want to be together – and indeed, a brief period of cocooning is normal for many couples. But, if you’re still spending all your time with your partner and no time with others as a couple, then you’re not building a healthy relationship. And this will cause problems in the future.

The solution might be easier than you think: invite your friends or family over for a meal. Make sure your boyfriend or husband is part of planning and executing this dinner (or lunch, or brunch), so you and he know what it’s like to entertain together. If your partner is abusive, however, fixing this relationship problem won’t be easy.

5. Lack of self-knowledge

Have you lost yourself in your relationship? This is a problem, and it will lead to long-term unhappiness! If one or both of you aren’t in tune with your own interests, needs, desires, future plans, goals, values, and preferences, then you’re not increasing your self-awareness and life satisfaction. The more you know yourself, the better decisions you’ll make and the happier you’ll be. This will prevent problems in both your relationship and your life as a whole.

The solution? Create a life outside your boyfriend or husband’s circle of friends, interests, work, and lifestyle. What do you do that’s just for you? What do you love, who do you enjoy spending time with, how do you want to live your life? This is the perfect time to learn all that about yourself.

6. Low self-esteem, insecurity, and lack of self-confidence

Relationships fail when one partner feels unworthy of being loved.This insecurity can lead to possessiveness and dependence, which isn’t healthy for either partner in the relationship. I know, because I coped with extremely low self-worth and even self-hatred for years. It was a long road to recovery – and it was hard on my marriage – but it was worth it. My self-image is founded on who God says I am (His child, wholly and deeply loved), and I am confident, secure, and happy.

The solution? If you struggle with low self-esteem or insecurity, talk to me in the comments section below. I have an activity that will help you rebuild your self-worth and confidence, which will help you solve your relationship problems.

7. Excessive jealousy – one of the most common reasons relationships fail

Common Relationship Problems – and How to Solve ThemJealousy is one of the most frequent causes of relationship problems and breakups. Suspicion, mistrust, and delusional jealousy can even trigger abuse and violence. Jealousy is a sign of insecurity and fear, which will tear a relationship apart. Delusional jealousy isn’t as common as the more typical jealousy many couples experience in a long-term relationship, but it is destructive when it appears.

The solution? Learn why you struggle with jealous feelings, and become aware of how it’s causing problems. This isn’t just the way to fix your relationship, it’ll change your life. Read How to Stop Feeling Insecure in Your Relationship.

8. Ineffective communication

Ah, yes — this is one of the most common relationship problems because we aren’t taught good communication skills as children. Both you and your boyfriend or husband need to be able to share your thoughts, feelings, opinions, values, needs, frustrations, and joys. Sometimes couples avoid speaking honestly and hide their true selves, which may not always lead to a break up…but it doesn’t strengthen your bond or feeling of intimacy.

The solution? You tell me! Are you struggling to communicate in your relationship? Figure out your main problem areas. Learn what healthy communication is, and how you can learn it as a couple.

9. Control issues

If your husband or boyfriend is always trying to control or manipulate you, then your relationship will become weak or destructive. Controlling behaviors include checking up on you, name-calling, threatening the partner, requiring you to check in all the time, or not allowing any deviations from the schedule. These signs of obsessive love may not cause you to break up, but it is a sign of an unhealthy boyfriend or husband.

The solution? Be honest with yourself. Are you the control freak in the relationship? Do you tend to manipulate your boyfriend or husband in different ways, so you feel safer and more secure? Time to do a little self-awareness test and ‘fess up.

10. Unhealthy physical behavior

This is a huge category of relationship problem that covers everything from physical, mental, and emotional abuse to drug and alcohol addictions. Any behavior that harms you or your boyfriend or husband physically will destroy your relationship. Even so, it’s never easy to walk away from a man you love.

The solution? Talk to someone you trust. You know when your boyfriend or husband isn’t healthy. It’s not an easy thing to admit to even the closest friend or family member, but the only way through is to start sharing what you’re going through.

Help for Relationship Problems

reasons relationships failIf your relationship is struggling – or you’re worried about a possible breakup – read Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples. In this book, Dr Harville Hendrix describes the three stages of intimate relationships, provides meaningful stories, and gives helpful recommendations to overcome problems and create a stronger bond between couples.

This isn’t the psychology textbook I read while getting my first degree! In Getting the Love You Want, Dr Hendrix describes the stages of most relationships: attraction, romantic love and the power struggle. Then, he suggests ways for partners to identify the conflicts associated with each of them. He also explores methods for achieving a “Conscious Marriage,” where the early phases of romance are rekindled and confrontation is slowly replaced by growth and support.

He also shares a unique therapeutic course for couples and offers a series of proven exercises that lead to insight, resolution and revitalization. It’s a process, but working through this guide will help you and your boyfriend or husband solve your relationship problems and build a healthy life together.

What do you think? Do you recognize yourself – or your partner – in this list of the most common relationship problems? I can’t offer advice or counseling, but you may find it helpful to share your story. Writing is a great way to figure out what’s going on in your life, and start working towards a better and healthier relationship with your boyfriend or husband.

Is your relationship in trouble? Get 7 Steps to Fixing Your Marriage from relationship coach Mort Fertel. It's free and helpful, no strings attached.

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25 thoughts on “10 Most Common Relationship Problems – and Solutions”

  1. Hi,
    I struggle with low self esteem and insecurity. It has wreaked havoc on my relationship off and on for several years now. I just want to heal fully so I can break the cycle of always feeling threatened by other women that are in contact with my boyfriend.
    I’m reading through your posts and appreciate you sharing with us.
    Thank you!

  2. There’s never just one factor that contributes to a detrimental or failed relationship. The two most common reasons relationships fail depend on the couple and their unique interaction.

  3. It was like all my world vanishing into sorrow and pain when I read these reasons relationships fail. But your kind words when I first emailed you gave me hope. I felt how sincere, honest and authentic you were from your comments.

  4. Dear ma’am,

    My husband and I have been together for almost 13 years now, of which we’re 5 years married.
    We used to be incredibly in love, but about the last half of our relationship, things have gone south; it feels as if we’re living together as friends. Intimacy is rare between us (granted, last few months it picked up again, will get to that in a bit), and “fun times” are difficult – even makes me sick (literally) as of late. Hubby thinks and feels we’re doing good again, but he can tell I am not so sure about it.
    Over the years, he kept breaking my trust about the same promise he made; over and over again I kept having faith it’d turn out alright.
    He knows I have low self esteem, but he kept his habit going. Didn’t cheat on me, nor I on him, but I feel hurt – and I doubt it can be “fixed”. I am still with him, because of hope; hope it would get better. I am proud he managed to “quit” his ill-jokes and remarks, he knows they hurt me (am quite insecure about myself).

    Earlier this year, we moved to a new apartment, and doing so we met new people, and I found a few new friends. I came to the realization that our current relationship, living side by side, wasn’t what I wanted. I want to live, go out and about, have fun. Plenty of time to be serious and “adult”. I often visit my friends (females and males), just to be out and about, and to have a good time (watching movies together, play card games or just chat about who-knows-what) during the nights. We’re insomniacs, so that explains a bit about our odd behaviour as friends. My husband works during the week, so he’s up early. The night belongs to me.
    I begin to fear, that the trust-issue is catching up with me, the living side by side-issue as well.
    I don’t want to throw it all out of the window, but I am scared that I will either get hurt more and will feel worse in the end. I do try my best to forgive and move on, but the done damage is there; it doesn’t want to heal.

    As for the intimacy issue: I’ve been having to “force” myself to get some kind of response, even though I was not in the mood for it myself most of the time. I tried my best to keep things going, in the hope to improve our relationship.

    Do you have any advice? Anything, that could be of help?
    I feel scared, confused.. and quite lost. My mind and my heart don’t match when it comes to making a choice.. One moment it’s “We go for it!”.. and the next it’s “To hell with it!” – or a combo..

  5. Never regret the time you spent in a “bad relationship” — because you have learned so much about yourself, other people, and relationships in general. You had to go through the relationship for some reason, even if you think you stayed too long. You learned things you can’t learn other ways….so try not to spend valuable energy or time in regret.

    I’m happy to hear that Doc is moving on to a much better future, and rebuilding self-esteem! Awesome.

  6. I fell in love with a girl whom I should have broken up with after the third date. When she told me she was a “proud liberal” as opposed to middle of the road politically, like it said on a dating website I had my suspicions. I later checked the website and her profile was taken down. It wasn’t so much the political difference as the probable lie.
    After two and half years of issues surrounding items 1,4,6,7,8,9 and 10 above which included lies, manipulation, secrecy, double standards, emotional and finally physical abuse – she spit in my face at a five star restaurant because she “drank too much”, (we were not in an argument) I finally called it quits. There were many good times in the relationship but the bad was in my view really bad. I should have never spent the time I did and after realizing I had low self esteem have embarked on re-building it and moving on to a much better future.

  7. How do you feel – deep down in your gut – about your breakup? Nobody but you can decide if you did the right thing by breaking up.

    The most important thing is to look at why your relationship failed, and keep an eye on that in your next relationship. You WILL find someone new…it just takes time!

  8. I Have 2 Failed Relationships And I’m Facing A Painful Deilma That
    I’ll Never Find The Right Guy
    And Even More Painful That There’s No Hope For Me To Adopt Children.

    I Just Became a Mormon For Almost 2 Years
    Now, Did I Make A Mistake? Or Did I Do The Right Thing?

  9. Hi Christine,

    What kind of help do you want from me? That is, do you want to know why your relationship is failing, or do you want to change your husband? How do you want your life to be different? How can I help you change your life?


  10. Dear Janet,

    Why is your boyfriend always asking you to pay for dinner? Knowing the reason may help you decide if your relationship is worth saving.

  11. My boyfriend or should I say husband more like we’ve been together for about 7years we have 3 kids together , well my question is every time I have a children with him is when I feel the worst because I know he cheats and at one time he gave me a STD and I just keep taking him back he constantly watching porn like way to much and he lies so much and I’m certain of it when I go threw his phone and approach him on it he never has anything to say I hope u get what I’m asking and can help please …

  12. My husband swears at me when I make him mad. He makes false statments in front of my kids. He yells and yells and yells I feel broken

  13. I don’t see a response to Tyy20… and I just can’t NOT respond.

    Sweetie – it has been almost a month since you wrote. I hope you are getting the RSS feed to this article! You are NOT in a marriage and you need to RUN. What you are getting from your husband is considered abuse. He may not be physically abusing you, but he is not a candidate for marriage at this point in his life. He has some growing up to do, and you cannot fix him.

    It is far better to admit you’ve made a mistake NOW than to suffer for years and lose yourself in this pain and abuse.

    Since he is military, go to the on base support team and have them help you extricate yourself from this. You have a huge and wonderful life ahead of you, don’t toss it away because you had sex with this man and mistook it for love or commitment.

    Please find a good therapist and work through your issues. We all have issues, so there’s no shame in getting help. Find out why you are willing to put up with this treatment. Find out what you can do to heal your insecurities (again, we ALL have those in some form or another.) Find out how you can grow and become the woman you are meant to be.

    Once you get those things worked on, the RIGHT man will show up in your life. Consider this a lesson and a blessing. You thought you had one thing and it turns out you had another. Your “husband” needs a lot of help as well, but this isn’t your job. You aren’t a trained therapist and he needs one before he can commit to being a good husband and eventual father.

    Be grateful you haven’t gotten pregnant yet. Please do NOT get pregnant at this point. It will complicate matters and make it harder for you to move on with your life.

    God bless you!

  14. Hello,
    My husband and are young. Weve only been married about a month and a half. I ended up with an STI and cannot trust him. When I told him and it was from him, he started telling me about females he slept with while we were at the start of our friendship building a foundation for our relationship. This all came out after we got married sbout the girls and the STI. I know I love him and want us to work but it will take some time. I am not ready to forgive him just yet. He is in the military and comes home tomorrow. He told me he is staying at his friends house not with me. He also asked ” So you dont have urges”? like to be with other people. One night we got into an argument and he said he didnt want to hear the ignorant stupid stuff i have to say. Our marriage is failing and Im really considering leaving. He doesnt want a divorce but I just dont feel like my husband loves me. Its like he did anything to be with me now that Im here he is way too comfortable and doesnt care how i feel. I feel like im stuck in between my love for him and how i would feel if i just gave up on our marriage because i truly care. Deep down i know he will never change. I care so much that Im going to counseling to talk to someone about my issues and how to work on a better me to fix myself as a wife. I write my thoughts at night and i even look at info or advice on the internet for ideas on how to better our marriage and I even take notes on some ways to better understand men and marriage. Can you please help? I know Im young but I truly love this man and i need some outside help. Thank you

  15. my boyfriend who caused me pain wants a come back. i said no but later realised i still love him. my parents are not in favour of my relationship with him. am a confused person now cos i still love him. what do i do?

  16. The best way to make amends for saying or doing something you regret is to apologize from the bottom of your heart, and insist that you didn’t mean it! Sometimes spouses forgive and forget; other times it’s the reason a relationship fails.

    But, we have to give each other room to make mistakes and say things we regret. That’s part of a good marriage – allowing and forgiving mistakes.

  17. Me and my wife had a really bad argument and she got me mad I snap saying that I didn’t love her anymore I really regret saying that I mess up big time please help me

  18. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    You may also find this article helpful – it doesn’t explain why couples break up, but it may help you move on:

    How to Let Go of Someone You Love

  19. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Stella,

    I am so sorry that your relationship with your boyfriend didn’t work out. It’s heartbreaking, and you feel like you’ll never get over it. I don’t know what relationship problems you and he faced, but I do know that this happened for a reason! You have to trust that you and he weren’t meant to be.

    I wrote this article for you:

    How to Cope When the Man You Love is Marrying Someone Else

    I hope it helps, and wish you all the best as you heal and move on.


  20. I just found out dat the guy I’ve been dating for four years is getting married to someone else, I love him so much and I have been crying cuz I don’t know what to do. I am so confuse and my heart is really hurting,I feel like dieing. Pls help me.

  21. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear May,

    Thanks for your comment and question – it’s a good one! It sounds like your boyfriend is taking advantage of you, and trying to manipulate you into lending him more money.

    Of course he gets angry when you say no — and say no you should! You’re not his banker or money lender…you shouldn’t lend him more money to gamble away. Not only will he not pay you back, you’re also contributing to his gambling problem. And yes, he has a gambling problem! If he has to borrow money to gamble, it’s a problem.

    I wrote this article for you:

    How to Stay No to Your Boyfriend – Be Strong, Savvy, Sexy!

    I hope it helps, and welcome your thoughts here or there.


  22. i have a question..did i do the right thing?? my boyfriend ask me to borrow him a money but i said no in a negative thing. because i was shocked when he ask me yesterday. i already lend him a big amount a week ago and now hes asking me to lend him again knowing that he used it to gamble.he is angry to me he thinks that i dont believe him and i only like money. what do u think about this?

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