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Top Challenges in Relationships and How to Keep the Love Alive!

It's been said that relationships are the hardest yoga. I agree that relationships take the same focus, effort, and flexibility.

In marriage and other romantic relationships, as in yoga, we salute the sun each day, seeking to honor the best in ourselves, our partner, and our lives together. We bend by adapting to life's unexpected curveballs; we twist when we wrestle with conflict; and we stretch by striving to love our partner even when it's not always easy. And when we seek poise between autonomy and intimacy, it can be as challenging as a one-armed side plank.

Estimated reading time: 4.5 minutes

A couple practicing yoga at home

Table of Contents:
Do All Relationships Have Problems?
Common Relationship Problems
Changing Our Relationship Mindset
Tips to Solve Relationship Problems and Challenges
TIP #1: Honor Differences (with a personal example)
TIP #2: Presume Innocence!
TIP #3: Ask Better Questions of Yourself and Your Partner
Conclusion
Frequently Asked Questions


Do All Relationships Have Problems?

In the varied contortions required by a relationship, many couples search for THE magic bullet. And every couple may ask themselves occasionally, "Do all relationships have problems?"

Unfortunately, fairytales and romance movies have taught us that love is magical and "it's happy ever after!"

We've been deceived.

Conflict is inevitable. If each person in a relationship is asserting their individuality, we will trip over our differences. We all perceive life, love, and relationships uniquely.  With all of our many differences as human beings, how could it be any other way?

However, there are many keys to a healthy relationship and loving communication. No two couples are alike; each pair must find their way through love's challenges.

There is no one-size-fits-all in love and marriage.

Yet, finding your stride as a couple has long-lasting benefits and makes the dedication and effort worth it!

Let's explore the most common challenges in relationships and then look at ways to increase relationship success.

Common Relationship Challenges

  • Division of household chores: Who does what?
  • Money conflicts: Is there contribution equity? Is one partner frugal and the other an extravagant spender (or a saver versus risk-taker)?
  • Work stress.
  • Different parenting styles and involvement.
  • Issues with sex, including affairs and infidelity.
  • The in-laws: Their influence, financial support, involvement, and expectations.
  • Differing coping mechanisms.
  • Varying ideas of recreation and adventure-seeking.
  • Tech addictions: Should a bedroom be tech-free? What is reasonable phone use?
  • Quality time as a couple versus individual pursuits and hobbies.
  • One or both partners expect the other to be a mind reader.
  • Unhealthy boundaries.

The challenge of tech in relationships: A husband on computer ignoring wife.

Changing Our Relationship Mindset

The relationship challenges above are so common that you've likely experienced some or all of them, and at times they can seem insurmountable. Luckily, there are ways to fix a problem in a relationship with love. But not without changing our mindset, and the way we view our relationship issues.

Try on the three simple actions below to help your relationship and keep your love alive.

I said "simple"... I did not say easy.

Applying the actions below won't always be easy! But when practiced and applied, they are game-changers!

You'll experience the IMPACT within your relationship to shift the mood, to heal a disagreement, to turn strife to laughter, and to change the narrative altogether. You'll be able to transform how you communicate with your partner.

And that awareness is liberating. This relationship mindset shift will change the way you view "problems."

young-woman-doing-yoga-640207390_CompressedDo you think you would be able to do this yoga pose in the picture without skill and practice?

Mastering it requires flexibility, learning easier yoga poses and building up to this level. Many of us will never even attempt this pose since it requires such tremendous focus and strength.

Relationship yoga requires us to flex the muscles of our love! To choose every day to love. And to be willing to be uncomfortable by committing to love when it gets hard.

We need to want to love our partner MORE than being "right" or "angry" or "getting our way."

These simple postures in relationships will help you grow sweetness. Your relationship will be so robust that you'll be pinching yourself to see if it's for real.

Tips to Solve Relationship Problems and Challenges

RELATIONSHIP TIP #1: Honor Your Differences

In love and marriage, a lot of conflicts are unnecessarily caused by expecting our partners to be just like us. They're not!

When we accept this fact, we can begin to appreciate our differences rather than using them as fuel for arguments and fights.

For example, in the first few years of my marriage, my husband could not understand (or accept) my physical sensitivity to stimulation, such as smelling a gas leak that he couldn't smell; being disturbed by bright lights in the morning; or being annoyed by the noise of the car's heater fan. At first, I was hurt by how often he dismissed my experiences.

Then, I got it! How could he understand? He was as different from me as the moon is to the sun. For instance, he had very low sensitivity in his temperament, toughened by a critical mother; I had high sensitivity heightened by a traumatic childhood. His energy was mild with a slower response time; my energy was fast-moving and always on the go! He was introverted; I was extroverted. We experienced every moment differently!

Once that insight sunk in, I sought to deeply understand my husband's perspective and experience. With that dramatic mindset shift, it became like watching a great sci-fi movie and being in awe of the special effects. My previous consternation with his behaviors turned to fascination and acceptance of his internal universe and all the falling stars!

What I learned was that he wasn't trying to hurt my feelings; he simply did not have the same lens. It's human nature to see life through our own lens.

Healthy relationships are about building a reliable bridge between each other's private universes—not by compromising! Love and marriage require us to be uncomfortable at times to care about another human.
Man-standing-by-boyfriend-preparing-food-at-home-1137542364_Compressed

RELATIONSHIP TIP #2: Presume Innocence!

It's so easy to assume we know what our partner is thinking or their intentions, isn't it?

Don't!

Years ago, I had a client who insisted that her long-time boyfriend was having an affair. Instead of discussing her jealousy with him, she began checking his texts and emails, following him to and from work, and stewing in her fears until she was sick with worry. And much to her surprise, she didn't find a scrap of evidence to validate her concerns.

As we explored her anxiousness further, she uncovered a bewildering and unsettling memory when she was eight. She and her sister had been awoken in the middle of the night by her dad's yelling. He was accusing her mom of an affair. As we worked to integrate the tender feelings of a little girl, her obsession with her boyfriend's behavior dissipated.

Presume innocence.

Get curious and begin a meaningful dialogue together instead of making accusations, criticizing, or faulting your partner. Suspend judgment, seek to understand, and see life from their vantage point.

A couple sitting on a couch having a meaningful discussion.

RELATIONSHIP TIP #3: Ask Better Questions of Yourself and Your Partner

When we ask more meaningful questions, we get better quality answers that lend greater understanding, encourage exploration, and invoke deeper trust in ourselves, our partners, and our relationship. 

  • Instead of asking your partner why they continually forget to take out the garbage, ask yourself what motivates your partner.
  • Instead of getting angry and throwing emotional darts at your spouse, self-calm and ask yourself, "What about my partner's behavior triggered me?"
  • Instead of complaining that your partner doesn't open up and badgering them to talk to you, ask yourself, "Am I saying or doing anything that makes it unsafe for my partner to be open and honest?"

Conclusion

By understanding your partner's perspective, you'll learn to appreciate how different they may experience life, your relationship, family, and work.

Just like stretching in yoga builds limber muscles, choosing to stretch by seeking to understand your partner instead of reacting creates a flexible relationship. And just like after a great yoga session, the good feelings keep you coming back for more!

Assert your love in these new ways and love will not only be alive, it will thrive!

Related reading: "If You Want a Successful Marriage, Increase Self-Mastery!"

Frequently Asked Questions:

How do I bring up an issue in a relationship?

When an issue tugs at your heart and persists, it's a sign that you need to bring it up with your partner. Yes, it might be uncomfortable, even a tad scary, but it will build greater strength and trust in the relationship.

To bring up something difficult, it helps to let your partner know it's hard for you. Say something like, "I love you so much. I need to bring up something with you that isn't easy. Would you be willing to listen without interrupting?" Usually, this request helps the person cut you some slack because they know you're struggling.

Next, you want to let them know your intentions. For instance, "I only want to address this issue because you mean the world to me and I want our relationship to grow and get even better." This short comment lets them know your true intent, dispersing any doubts that you're breaking up, divorcing, or just wanting to give them a hard time. In other words, you create safety. (Our minds like to jump to conclusions; now they won't need to!)

Then you want to frame the issue in an "I message" such as "I get scared when you come home late without calling. I'm afraid something has happened. Would you be willing to make an effort to let me know your plans?"

An "I message" is about how you feel and how your partner impacts you; it doesn't blame or make them wrong. Typically, these steps help to create a meaningful agreement.

If you'd like more support and are googling "relationship counseling near me," contact us today!

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Jennifer A. Williams / Heartmanity FounderJennifer A. Williams / Heartmanity Founder
Jennifer, as the Heartmanity Founder, has coached couples for over two decades. With her extensive experience and vast knowledge of emotional intelligence and brain science, Jennifer provides profound insights. She specializes in communication and teaches EQ skills needed to create healthy relationships. Jennifer is happily married and the mother of three grown children who are incredible human beings.

Posted in Love, Marriage, and Relationships

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