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
This 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
Jealousy 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
If 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.
Your thoughts are welcome below! I don't give advice, but you can get free relationship help from marriage coach Mort Fertel.