Even the happiest of couples sometimes have relationship problems. The trick is in knowing when the problems can be solved and when it's time to move on.
The most satisfied couples learn to accept each others' strengths and weaknesses, working through their relationship problems. Maybe she's better at handling money, but is a terrible cook. So she makes the investments and he makes dinner.
A long-lasting relationship is also about compromise. No one can get what they want every time. A morning person married to a night owl will have to learn to like eating breakfast alone.
What Goes Wrong
Many relationship problems stem from a few common issues.
Fighting Over Funds
Money problems have caused more than one divorce. People fight over how to spend, how much is enough, and who should be responsible for the bills.
The Stingy Partner
If your partner seems like a cheapskate, take a closer look. If she's a tightwad even when you're not around, it might just be part of her personality. Talk it over and see if she's willing to negotiate a cooperative solution. If he buys himself nice things, but takes you to Burger King on your anniversary, it's probably a sign that he doesn't value you. No amount of talking can fix that.
Some couples fight because one partner spends more than the other. Does he blow his rent money on electronic toys? Do you worry about her credit card debt? Some people think that spending excessively makes them look good. Some just don't think to plan for the future. If a spender is willing to consider changing, he or she can learn to be more careful with money. If two people don't see eye to eye on appropriate spending, the relationship is in for a rocky road.
It's no fun being on either side of an uneven love affair. What happens when only one of you is ready to commit? This is a certain path to relationship problems.
You've been dating for years. You're sure that he'll pop the question any day now or that she'll give you a hint that she's ready for a ring. Then it never happens. Maybe your partner has even told you, "I'm just not ready to commit." What's going on?
Take a good look at your relationship. Does your partner make you a priority? What is he or she waiting for? Sometimes, people just have different ideas of how long they should date before deciding to marry. Also keep in mind that many supposed "commitment-phobes" marry the very next person they date. It's entirely possible that your partner is just not ready to commit to you.
This is the flip side of the coin: you've just met and he's already decorating the baby's room or she's started picking out china patterns. Clingers often are missing something in their own lives and they hope that a relationship will fill the hole. Don't let someone bully you into a commitment. If you're not feeling the same way, be upfront and let the person know. If they don't tone it down, it may be kinder to end the relationship than to string them along.
Communication is the lifeblood of a good relationship. Without it, you're not even really friends.
The Strong, Silent Type
It's frustrating when your partner won't share his or her feelings. Before you give up, think about how he or she might simply be different from you. Some people prefer to keep emotions to themselves. Your partner may need time to process bad feelings before telling them to you. Good emotions might come out in physical ways: he cleans your car; she irons all your shirts. Ask your partner to at least explain how they like to communicate and look for ways to understand each other. If it doesn't get better, consider couples counseling… or moving on.
When your partner is the type who talks too much, it can also be quite frustrating. Men often complain that their wives are chatterboxes, but male partners can be guilty too. Your partner may not even realize that they're annoying you. Try telling them gently that you need some quiet time or set specific times (like dinner or before bed) when you'll chat together. If your partner's talk never interests you, though, it might be time to consider if you're really a good match.
Dangerous Relationship Problems
Some relationship problems can't be solved by communication or compromise. *Emotional abuse. If your partner calls you names, belittles you, or makes you feel bad about yourself in other ways, leave.
- Physical abuse. If your partner hits you, it's time to walk out the door.
- Control. If your partner prevents you from seeing friends or family, won't give you access to shared money, or tries to control your actions, walk away.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline or 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) can help victims of all types of abuse. Both men and women can be abusers and both can be victims. Anyone who is afraid in a relationship or who is worried about a loved one, is invited to call.