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How to Improve Your Communication In Relationships

Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

how to fix relationship communication problems

Ivy Kwong, LMFT, is a psychotherapist specializing in relationships, love and intimacy, trauma and codependency, and AAPI mental health.  

how to fix relationship communication problems

Willie B. Thomas / Getty Images

  • Why Communication Matters

Characteristics of Effective Communication

  • Communication Problems
  • Improve Your Communication

When to Get Help

Communication is vital for healthy relationships . Being able to talk openly and honestly with the people in your life allows you to share, learn, respond, and forge lasting bonds. This is a vital part of any relationship, including those with friends and family, but it can be particularly important in romantic relationships. 

While all relationships are different and each one has its own ups and downs, being able to talk to your partner means that you'll be able to share your worries, show support for one another, and work together to handle conflict more effectively.

In this article, learn more about why communication in relationships is so important. Also, explore some of the characteristics of good communication, learn to spot the signs of potential problems, and explore tips that can help you improve your communication skills.

Benefits of Communication in Relationships

According to Dr. John Gottman, a clinical psychologist and founder of the Gottman Institute, a couple's communication pattern can often predict how successful a relationship will be. Good communication can help enhance your relationship in a variety of ways:

  • It can minimize rumination : Instead of stewing over negative feelings, good communication allows people to discuss their concerns and resolve them in a more positive, effective way.
  • It fosters intimacy : Forming a close emotional connection with another person requires a mutual give-and-take when it comes to sharing things about yourself and listening to the other person. This reciprocal self-disclosure means talking about your experiences, beliefs, values, opinions, and expectations. In order to do this, you both need to possess communication skills that foster this connection and allow it to grow and deepen with time. 
  • It reduces and resolves conflict : Every relationship is bound to experience conflict from time to time. When you are able to talk about your problems in an open and honest way, however, you can resolve arguments and disagreements more readily. Rather than getting caught up in a cycle of misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and emotional strife, you can address your problems and take steps to improve your relationship .

Communication Isn't a Panacea

While the common assumption has long been that if you want to improve your relationship, you should start by improving your communication, some research has suggested that the answer might not be so simple. 

A study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family found that while there is certainly a connection between communication and relationship satisfaction, good communication alone doesn't definitively predict how happy you'll be in your relationships.

Other factors—including how much interaction a couple has, the personality characteristics of each partner, and stress—all play a part in determining how satisfied people feel in their relationship.

So while research suggests that communicating well isn't a guarantee for a happy relationship, there is plenty of research indicating that good communication skills enhance relationships and well-being in a number of ways.

Effective communication is one way to foster a positive, supportive relationship with your partner. When you actively listen and respond to your partner (and they do the same for you), both of you are more likely to feel valued and cared for. 

For example, one study found that when people feel that their partner values them, they are more likely to sleep better. And ultimately, feeling more valued, positive, and happy in your relationships can have a beneficial impact on your overall well-being. 

Communication is just one part of a good relationship. Research suggests that people who are happy in their relationships are more likely to communicate well with one another. 

So what do experts mean when they talk about "good communication?" Are you and your partner both on the same page or are there signs that might indicate a problem in how you relate to one another? 

First, it is important to think about what we mean by communication. On the surface, it involves the words that people use to convey information to one another. But it can also involve other ways of transmitting information including tone of voice, body language , and other forms of nonverbal communication . In many cases, what you don’t say can mean just as much if not more than what you do say.

Some of the hallmarks of effective communication in relationships include:

  • Active listening : Active listening involves being engaged in the conversation, listening attentively, and reflecting back on what people have said. It also involves asking for clarification when needed and avoiding making judgments. 
  • Not personalizing issues : When communicating in relationships, people who are good at it avoid personalizing their partner's actions. Instead, they focus on the situation and how things can be resolved.
  • Using “I” statements : I-statements can be helpful in interpersonal conflicts. Instead of saying, "You never clean up after yourself," try using an I-statement like, "I feel uncomfortable when there is clutter accumulating around the house."
  • Kindness : Kindness is important because it makes people feel cared for and understood.
  • Being present : When talking with your partner, it is important to be fully present in the moment . Getting distracted by outside sources–including electronic distractions such as your phone–can lead to a lack of communication and a poor connection.
  • Showing acceptance : Healthy communication is about accepting and validating the other person , even if you might not agree with them. When you communicate well with your partner, you’re able to recognize that people have a right to feel their feelings even if those emotions and reactions are different from your own.

Communicating well in relationships involves actively listening, avoiding judgments, and practicing kindness instead of trying to win the argument.

Signs of Communication Problems

Some signs that your relationship is being negatively affected by communication problems include:

  • Assuming that you know what your partner thinks or feels
  • Constantly criticizing one another
  • Engaging in passive-aggressive behaviors
  • Feeling like you can't really talk to your partner
  • Getting defensive when your partner tries to talk to you
  • Giving each other the silent treatment
  • Having the same arguments over and over without reaching a resolution
  • Refusing to compromise or listen to the other person's perspective
  • Stonewalling in order to avoid problems or conversations

It is also important to learn to recognize some of the more subtle signs of poor communication. This can include avoiding arguments for the sake of keeping the peace. If you never disagree, it means that one of you is hiding what you really feel or think just to avoid a fight. This deprives you both of experiencing authentic, open, and honest discussions.

Withholding issues can be another common communication problem in relationships. Instead of having tough conversations with your partner, you might avoid the issue and then end up dumping all of your anger, irritation, worries, or problems on the other people in your life. 

For example, when you don’t tell your partner you are upset, you might end up ranting to your friend about your frustrations. While this might provide you with an emotional outlet, it doesn’t do anything to resolve the problem. And it might result in passive-aggressive actions designed to “punish” your partner for not being able to read your mind.

Criticisms, defensiveness, silence, and feeling misunderstood are just a few signs of communication problems in a relationship. And a lack of arguing isn't necessarily a sign that you're communicating well. Instead, it may mean you are holding back in order to avoid conflict.

How to Improve Your Communication

If you think that poor communication is having a negative impact on your relationship, there are strategies that can help you improve your connection.

Consider Your Attachment Style

Think about how your attachment style might affect your communication patterns. Attachment styles are your characteristic patterns of behavior in relationships. Your early attachment style, which emerges in childhood based on relationships with caregivers, can continue to affect how you behave and respond in adult romantic relationships.

If you have an insecure attachment style , you may be more likely to engage in communication patterns that can be seen as anxious or avoidant. Recognizing how your attachment style affects how you interact with your partner (and how your partner's style affects how they interact with you) can give you clues into what you might need to work on.

If you or your partner have an insecure attachment style, it can have an impact on how you communicate and interact with your partner. Knowing your style and being aware of how it may manifest as anxious or avoidant behavior can help you find ways to overcome less effective communication patterns.

Be Fully Present

In order to make sure that both of you are listening and understanding, minimize distractions and focus on being fully present when you are communicating. This might involve setting aside time each day to really focus on one another and talk about the events of the day and any concerns you may have. 

Limiting your device use at certain times of day, such as during meals or at bedtime, can be a great way to focus on your partner without having your attention pulled in different directions.

Use “I” Statements

Sometimes the way that you talk to each other can play a major role in communication problems. If you are both focusing on arguing facts without talking about feelings, arguments can quickly turn into debates over who is "right" or who gets the last word.

"I" statements are focused on what you are feeling instead of your partner’s behavior. For example, instead of saying “You are never on time,” you might say “I get worried when you don’t arrive on time.”

Using this type of statement can help conversations seem less accusatory or blaming and instead help you and your partner focus on the emotions behind some of the issues you are concerned about.

Avoid Negative Communication Patterns

When you are tempted to engage in behavior like ignoring your partner, using passive-aggressive actions, or yelling, consider how your actions will negatively affect your relationship. It isn’t always easy to change these patterns, since many of them formed in childhood, but becoming more aware of them can help you start to replace these destructive behaviors with healthier, more positive habits.

Focus on Your Relationship

While good communication is important, research suggests that it is just one of many factors that impact the success, duration, and satisfaction in relationships. 

In fact, research seems to suggest that your satisfaction with your relationship might predict how well you and your partner communicate. The more satisfied people are in their relationship, the more likely they are to openly talk about their thoughts, feelings, concerns, and problems with one another.

If you want to improve your communication, focusing on improving your relationship overall can play an important role.

There are many steps you can take to improve the communication in your relationship on your own, but there may be times that you feel like professional help might be needed. Couples therapy can be a great way to address communication problems that might be holding your relationship back. 

A therapist can help identify unhelpful communication patterns, develop new coping techniques, and practice talking to one another in more effective ways. They can also address any underlying resentments or other mental health issues that might be having a detrimental impact on your relationship.

A Word From Verywell

Effective communication in a relationship allows people to tell other people what they need and to respond to what their partner needs. It allows people to feel understood, validated, and connected to another person. 

Always remember that the goal of communicating is to understand one another. It isn't about sweeping problems under the rug in order to prevent all conflict. Instead, focus on listening to understand and responding with empathy and care. If you and your partner are struggling with communication issues, consider talking to a therapist for advice and tips on how to cope.

Gottman J, Silver N. The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work . New York, NY: Crown Publishers; 1999.

Lavner JA, Karney BR, Bradbury TN. Does couples’ communication predict marital satisfaction, or does marital satisfaction predict communication?: couple communication and marital satisfaction . Journal of Marriage and Family . 2016;78(3):680-694. doi:10.1111/jomf.12301

Selcuk E, Stanton SCE, Slatcher RB, Ong AD. Perceived partner responsiveness predicts better sleep quality through lower anxiety . Social Psychological and Personality Science . 2017;8(1):83-92. doi:10.1177/1948550616662128

Rogers SL, Howieson J, Neame C. I understand you feel that way, but I feel this way: the benefits of I-language and communicating perspective during conflict .  PeerJ . 2018;6:e4831. doi:10.7717/peerj.4831

By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

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How To Improve Communication In Your Relationships

Kelly Gonsalves

We've likely all heard that trite little truism by now: Communication is key to a healthy relationship.

But let's be real for a second. What does it actually mean to communicate well in a relationship? And if you're someone who knows (or has been told) you lack communication skills, how do you actually learn how to fix communication in a relationship?

Ahead, we've rounded up the best advice from marriage therapists and psychologists on how to communicate better in a relationship.

What it means to communicate well in a relationship

Communicating well in a relationship means that you and your partner are able to have open conversations about all the things you need, want, and feel in ways that (1) allow both people to feel fully understood and cared for and (2) continue to nurture the relationship.

"The idea is to develop a shared safe space that's based on mutually agreed upon, nonjudgmental understanding and vulnerability," clinical psychologist Jennifer Guttman, Psy.D. , previously told mbg . "By doing this, you will create healthy reciprocity and a loving language that maintains mutual respect in your relationship."

Couples with good communication skills directly tell each other about their fears and frustrations rather than hiding how they truly feel out of fear of judgment or causing division. But the key is that they're able to communicate those tougher feelings without hurting each other or negatively impacting the relationship in the process.

"Oftentimes, we think that being firm and direct about our needs (and possible grievances) requires us to speak abrasively," couples' therapist Rachel Moheban-Wachtel, LCSW , once wrote at mbg . "But the way we approach articulating our feelings is a distinct choice from expressing the feelings themselves."

Reasons people struggle to communicate with their partner

People struggle to communicate in relationships for many reasons, with some of the most common being wanting to avoid conflict, struggling with vulnerability, and being generally uncomfortable with self-expression due to earlier life experiences.

"Fear is often the main reason we don't engage in many of these conversations," marriage therapist Maria G. Sosa, LMFT , previously told mbg . "We fear that if we bring things up, there's a possibility that the differing viewpoints will create division and lead to the end of the relationship."

But this is flawed thinking, she notes. "The reality is the real end begins the moment we start avoiding and sweeping these hard conversations under the rug." We know lack of communication erodes relationships because partners are no longer connecting fully with each other, instead interacting on the surface level.

Some people also struggle with communication in relationships because vulnerability and self-expression are generally difficult for them. Perhaps they grew up in a family that didn't talk much about their feelings, or they've been in past relationships where they were shamed or shut down for how they felt. 

How to communicate better in a relationship:

Establish guidelines for how you want to approach communication as a couple..

Couples' therapist Elizabeth Earnshaw, LMFT , recommends couples have an actual conversation where they talk about…well, how they want to talk to each other. Specifically, she recommends talking about how you want to handle disagreements as a couple, how you want to start those conversations, and what you'll do if the conversation gets too heated.

"Couples that decide in advance how they would like to deal with disagreements end up being more transparent with each other in the long run because they know exactly what to do in order to enter into a difficult conversation," she previously told mbg .

Create a pattern of openness.

Make transparency the norm in your relationship, says Guttman. "Create a sustainable pattern of being honest, staying connected, and remaining open to each other. Focus on getting issues out in the open rather than repressing them out of fear of conflict," she recommends, adding, "Harboring issues under the surface only fuels resentment and compounds problems."

In practice, this looks like telling your partner as soon as you notice something that's bothering you in the relationship. Remember that you don't need to have a specific ask from your partner or even know exactly how you feel or what you want from them as a solution. The point is just letting them into your thought process so they're not in the dark and so you're not letting resentment fester under the surface.

Speak gently.

Avoid raising your voice to the best of your abilities. We all get carried away sometimes, but make it a goal of yours to be caring and gentle toward your partner even when you're upset with them .

"Know that you can choose soothing language, even when making a point," says Moheban-Wachtel. "The second you escalate an argument is the second your partner stops listening. Period."

Avoid criticism.

Criticism is one of the so-called four horsemen of the apocalypse , which are four communication habits that have been found to predict divorce. "Criticism is the act of noticing a problem within your life or the relationship and turning it into a commentary of your partner's character trait flaws," Earnshaw writes. "You can catch yourself using criticism when you say the words 'always' or 'never' when describing something your partner does or doesn't do."

Instead of reaching for critical remarks, Earnshaw recommends identifying the issue that upset you, sharing how you felt about it, and then stating what you want instead. Here's an example she offers:

  • Criticism: "You always leave the dishes in the sink. I am so tired when I get home, and you never care about that."
  • Better alternative: "When I come home at the end of the day and see the dishes in the sink (identifying the issue), I feel so tired and frustrated (sharing your feelings). I really want to walk into a peaceful environment (what you need)."

Use "I" statements.

This is a classic tip from marriage therapy because it works: As much as possible, use "I" statements as you move through a conflict. You can describe what happened (e.g., "You left the dishes in the sink last night"), but from there, focus only on your own experience of the event (e.g., "I was frustrated/it made me sad"/etc.) without making assumptions about your partner's intentions (e.g., "You don't care about me") or attacking them (e.g., "You're so lazy").

Empathize first, then respond.

If your partner is the one bringing up an issue to you, don't jump right into defending yourself or trying to explain your point of view.

"Listen to what they're saying, and make sure that you understand it, from their perspective," licensed couples' counselor Jessa Zimmerman, M.A., CST , tells mbg . "Don't stop until you can get in their shoes and see it from their worldview. Do this  before  you start constructing your response."

Your goal should be to really, truly understand why they're upset, she adds. "That doesn't mean you agree with them, but you can see the situation through their eyes. Then you can proceed to communicate how you see it."

Accept that you will see things differently sometimes.

The way you see a situation and the way your partner sees a situation don't need to line up for you to show empathy for them.

For example, if your partner feels upset when you don't text them back fast enough, whereas you think it's OK to take a few hours to respond to someone because you don't check your phone that often, no one needs to be "right." You can acknowledge that your partner has a different perspective on texting, and if you had that same viewpoint, you would also be upset about long periods without hearing from your partner.

This is what it means to be empathetic toward someone without necessarily agreeing with them.

Regulate your own emotions.

It's natural for us to get upset in a tense conversation, but it's important to be able to manage our emotions without taking them out on our partners.

"Work toward being able to settle yourself down and tend to your own reactivity. This is going to take practice, but mastering difficult conversations includes regulating your own emotional state," says Zimmerman. "If you get triggered or escalated, it's your job to notice that and do what you need to do to regain control."

Learn to self-soothe in the moment, whether that means taking a pause to take a few deep breaths and reset yourself, or taking a 20-minute break from the conversation if you're feeling emotionally flooded. "Then, it is really important that the person who took the break comes back to the conversation when calm," Earnshaw adds. "This return builds trust within the relationship."

Repair any damage and reconnect as soon as possible.

Inevitably, tensions will boil over, and arguments will break out. We're humans. However, when these things happen, it's vital to notice them and then make an effort to repair the damage that's done as soon as possible.

Repairs can look like apologizing for being too harsh, using humor to defuse the tension, or offering a reminder of warmth and care to your partner—like reaching out to hold their hand or pausing the conversations to let them know that you do love them and know you're going to be able to work through this.

Get to know yourself better.

Part of learning how to communicate better is being more in touch with your own emotions, so you're better able to articulate them to your partner.

"Allow yourself to notice how you feel in different situations, tune in to your body, and practice saying how you genuinely feel about things out loud," licensed couples' therapist  Alicia Muñoz, LPC , previously told mbg. "It can be surprisingly powerful to say, 'I feel angry toward my sister' or 'I feel scared of being alone' because often, we don't even allow ourselves to be vulnerable with ourselves."

From there, you can practice telling your partner how you really feel about things that happen to you, she says, including things that have nothing to do with them. This will help you build up your ability to better express yourself.

(Here's more on how to be more vulnerable in relationships.)

Release the fear of division.

As Sosa points out, couples often avoid talking about issues in the relationships because they don't want to start a fight or (at worst) trigger a breakup. But it's important to recognize that getting hard conversations out in the open will always help people in the long run. It will help build intimacy in the relationship, Sosa explains, or it will let the couple know that they're not on the same page about something and prevent them from prolonging the inevitable. "Either way, it's a win, and we get the information we need."

Learning how to fix communication issues in a relationship will take time. It's easy to read a list of tips on how to communicate better and nod along, but in the heat of an actual argument, many of those insights go flying out the window. Give yourself grace, and simply work on catching yourself in the moment when poor communication habits rear their head. Once you notice that's happened, collect yourself, apologize to your partner, and try again.

Good communication takes practice, but with time, these communication tips will start to become second nature.

What to do when your partner is a poor communicator

If your partner is a poor communicator, it can be helpful to open up a conversation about it outside of an actual conflict. It's much harder to accept feedback about your tone or communication techniques at the moment when you are already upset and feeling under attack.

So, at a time when things are warm and open between you, let your partner know that you''d like to have a conversation about the way the two of you communicate with each other. Let them know the type of communication you'd like to have in the relationship, being sure to avoid criticism and instead focusing on what you're wanting from them.

It can help to explain why certain adjustments would help you. For example, "It's harder for me to process what you're saying when you start raising your voice because I start to feel quite activated."

Make sure to ask your partner about things you might be able to improve on, too. Come up with a plan for how you can ground yourselves in these guidelines when a conflict comes up, whether that means pausing in the moment to recalibrate or having a debrief session after arguments to talk about how you could've improved your communication during it.

If you're struggling to have productive conversations about your communication as a couple, don't be afraid to schedule a session or two with a couples' therapist who can help guide you through some of those conversations.

Can you fix lack of communication in a relationship?

It's absolutely possible to fix a lack of communication in a relationship. Start by opening up a conversation with your partner about what you're noticing about the way you do or don't communicate with each other, and collaborate on ways you could begin to open up more to each other .

How can I improve my communication skills in relationships?

To improve communication skills in relationships, practice opening up to your partner about the things you feel and need. Focus on trying to talk about these things in ways that are focused on how you're experiencing the issues (e.g., "I feel frustrated when I’m sitting around at a restaurant waiting for you to arrive") rather than on what your partner is or isn't doing ("You're always late"). Pick up a book about relationships for some in-depth learning.

The takeaway

Many people struggle with communicating with partners because it's not something that's commonly taught. People typically emulate what they saw growing up, and if they've had bad experiences being shut down or rejected in response to talking about feelings, they'll likely begin to develop communication issues in their future relationships.

The good news is, it's absolutely possible to learn how to communicate better in a relationship. It doesn't happen overnight, but with the right tool kit and a willing partner, you can fix communication issues together over time by starting to become more aware of the way you speak to each other and committing to doing better.

Kelly Gonsalves author page.

Kelly Gonsalves is a multi-certified sex educator and relationship coach helping people figure out how to create dating and sex lives that actually feel good — more open, more optimistic, and more pleasurable. In addition to working with individuals in her private practice, Kelly serves as the Sex & Relationships Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a degree in journalism from Northwestern University , and she’s been trained and certified by leading sex and relationship institutions such as The Gottman Institute and Everyone Deserves Sex Ed , among others. Her work has been featured at The Cut, Vice, Teen Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and elsewhere.

With her warm, playful approach to coaching and facilitation, Kelly creates refreshingly candid spaces for processing and healing challenges around dating, sexuality, identity, body image, and relationships. She’s particularly enthusiastic about helping softhearted women get re-energized around the dating experience and find joy in the process of connecting with others. She believes relationships should be easy—and that, with room for self-reflection and the right toolkit, they can be.

You can stay in the loop about her latest programs, gatherings, and other projects through her newsletter: kellygonsalves.com/newsletter

I’m a Couples Therapist, and These Are the 6 Biggest Communication Issues I See in Relationships

how to fix relationship communication problems

Obviously, communication issues in relationships aren't limited to television characters (I know this all too well from personal experience). In fact, at some point, nearly all of us have had real-life run-ins with a communication problem because, as relationship and sex therapist Vanessa Marin says, "it's not like anyone ever taught us how to be amazing communicators, right?"

Furthermore, it's possible that the coronavirus pandemic is making matters of communication even trickier. "On an individual, relational, and societal level, COVID-19 has highlighted so many issues , many of which were not created by the virus, but have been amplified by it," says psychotherapist Kate Deibler, LCSW . "People are being forced to sit and look at things within themselves and their relationships that they have successfully avoided in the past."

But, just because communication issues in relationships are common doesn't mean they need to be constant. "The reality is that communication doesn't need to be that difficult, but we're just not taught the practical tools that we need," says Marin. However, communication is paramount to the health and longevity of a relationship, and learning how to communicate effectively is one of the keys to both sustaining relationships over the longer term and saving a relationship that's struggling.


Below, learn the six most common communication issues the psychologists see in relationships, plus, how to fix them.

The 6 most common communication issues in relationships, and how psychologists suggest addressing them.

1. just not communicating.

"People ignore uncomfortable communication, thinking that it will pass without being addressed, but this sort of denial rarely works," Deibler says. "This type of thinking and subsequent inaction can lead to years of avoiding issues that are ultimately hurting the relationship."

To fix it, you're going to have to communicate about your communication patterns with your partner. It's important to make sure the aim of this meta-style check-in is to explore how you and your partner can improve communication itself, not to resolve any other issues that have arisen as a result of the root communication issues.

Try asking the following three questions from Marin to get started:

  • "What do you think we do well when it comes to communication?"
  • "How could we improve our communication?"
  • "What do you need from me when it comes to communication?"

Can you imagine how the plot of Normal People might have been different for Connell and Marianne if those two had just asked each other these questions? Marin also recommends having a regular check-in so you're able to address issues before they come up, instead of bottling them up inside until they explode, and suddenly your misguided frustration manifests into a fight about whether or not it's okay to leave the spatula in the pan while you're cooking.

2. Worrying things will get worse if you delve deeper

"People often fear that if they dive deeper into their difficulties, things will get worse. However, it is quite the opposite: Friction grows when it is ignored," Deibler says. "Conflict is inevitable, and the only way to successfully resolve tension is to communicate about it." So while working through issues head-on in this way can feel very scary and uncomfortable, it's important to do nonetheless.

3. Expecting your partner to be a mind-reader

Apparently, you can't expect your partner to read your mind, so it's key to know what you personally want and need, and—yep, you guessed it—communicate that. Marin says to successfully get introspective, "take a few minutes by yourself to figure out what's really going on for you. Ask yourself questions like, 'Why is this so important?' and 'What do I need?'"

4. Trying to be right

It's not effective to approach any issue with the goal to be deemed correct. "There are three truths to every situation: your truth, your partner's truth, and the objective reality," Marin says. "You have to be willing to accept that your partner is having the experience that they're having, even if it's a wildly different experience than what you're having."

5. Getting defensive and not really listening

"The goal for communication should be understanding, not agreeing. Most couples think they're supposed to get to agreement, which can cause so many problems," Marin says, adding that it's actually pretty likely that you're not going to agree most of the time. What you are able to do, though, is understand each other, which requires listening and not try to "win."

" When couples fight , they often do not fight well; they are mean to each other, blaming or shaming to get their point across," Deibler says. "Continuing to fight in a way that is harmful can be incredibly destructive for a relationship. If one can view the argument as an opportunity, tension actually has the possibility of leading to increased understanding and empathy."

6. Shutting down and refusing to talk

"Oftentimes people stonewall because they're feeling overwhelmed," Marin says. To prevent this, she recommends taking a 20 minute time-out next time an inclination to retreat within presents itself. "Tell your partner that you want to return to the conversation once you're in a better space to have it," she says.

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How to Fix a Relationship

Last Updated: February 14, 2022 Approved

This article was co-authored by Allen Wagner, MFT, MA and by wikiHow staff writer, Janice Tieperman . Allen Wagner is a licensed marriage and family therapist based in Los Angeles, California. He received his Master's in Psychology from Pepperdine University in 2004. He specializes in working with individuals and couples on ways they can improve their relationships. Along with his wife, Talia Wagner, he's the author of Married Roommates. There are 12 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, 83% of readers who voted found the article helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 761,422 times.

If you’ve hit a rough patch in your relationship, you’re in good company. For better or for worse, most relationships come with high and low points. Don’t worry. We’ve put together some psychologist-backed tips and tricks that will help you connect and communicate with your partner in a healthy, productive way.

Expressing Yourself

Tell your partner clearly and openly how you’re feeling.

  • You might say, “Lately, I feel like our relationship isn’t a priority for you. I’m not trying to point any fingers, but I just want to be honest with you.”
  • Good communication isn’t always about being “right.” Be prepared to compromise as you talk things out with your partner.

Listening to Your Partner

Listen closely as your partner airs out any issues they have.

  • Restating, reflecting, and summarizing are great ways to be an active listener. You might say something like, “Let me make sure I’m on the same page…” “It sounds like…” or “I can tell that you’ve been thinking about this a lot.” [4] X Research source

Household Responsibilities

Try to view a situation from your partner’s perspective.

  • Instead of saying “I don’t get why you’re so upset about this,” you might say, “I’m sorry you’ve felt this way. I didn’t mean to leave all the trash and recycling to you last night.”

Intimacy Issues

Identify you and your partner’s attachment styles.

  • If you have an anxious or avoidant attachment style, focus on building your self-esteem and putting yourself out there with your partner.

You might be repeating a past habit without realizing it.

  • For example, if you tended to pick fights with your parents as a child, you might pick fights with your partner without realizing it.

Don’t play the blame game with your partner.

  • For instance, if your partner tends to leave their dirty laundry on the floor, say something like, “I don’t want to start a fight, but I’ve noticed that you don’t seem to listen or care when I remind you to put your laundry away. Is there a way we could compromise on this?”

Daily Conflicts

Every relationship “problem” is just an incorrect answer to a bigger issue.

  • For instance, if your partner forgets to do the dishes, suggest making a chore chart instead of criticizing them for forgetting.
  • If your partner is in a bad mood, ask “What’s on your mind?” instead of saying “What are you pissed about?”

Emotional Connection

Rewind back to the very beginning of your relationship.

  • You might ask a simple, open-ended question, like “If a crystal ball could tell you an absolute truth about your past, present, or future, what would you ask?”

Time Spent Together

Variety is essential to a healthy relationship.

  • For instance, you might go to the movies one weekend if you usually spend the night in.
  • You might try out a new restaurant instead of eating dinner at home.

Busy Schedules

Schedule outings or activities to do together.

  • For instance, you might sign up for a cooking or dance class together, or take a daily walk around the neighborhood.
  • You could have a heartfelt conversation each morning over a cup of coffee.

Lack of Affection

Try touching each other more.

  • You might pat your partner on the shoulder if they’ve had a rough day, or offer to give them a hug.
  • If touch isn’t a big part of your relationship, talk to your partner about it! An open conversation might help you pinpoint some issues in the relationship.

Practicing gratitude helps you feel better about a relationship.

  • You might thank your partner for making the bed that morning, or for picking up some extra ingredients at the grocery store.

Money Issues

Tackle your household finances as a pair.

  • For instance, you might be in charge of grocery shopping for one month, while your partner manages your savings. Then, you can switch roles the following month.

Visit a marriage or couple’s therapist.

  • If you don’t feel like seeing a therapist, reach out to another trustworthy third party, like a religious leader or close friend.

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  • ↑ https://www.helpguide.org/articles/relationships-communication/relationship-help.htm
  • ↑ https://psychcentral.com/blog/9-steps-to-better-communication-today
  • ↑ https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/close-encounters/201704/10-tips-solving-relationship-conflicts
  • ↑ https://psychcentral.com/lib/become-a-better-listener-active-listening
  • ↑ https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/tech-support/201410/6-steps-repairing-your-relationship
  • ↑ https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/which-of-these-four-attachment-styles-is-yours/
  • ↑ https://psychcentral.com/lib/how-to-change-your-attachment-style
  • ↑ https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/compassion-matters/201301/6-ways-you-can-fix-your-relationship-your-own
  • ↑ https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/fixing-families/201208/relationship-repair-10-tips-thinking-therapist
  • ↑ https://www.psychalive.org/how-to-fix-a-relationship/
  • ↑ https://www.apa.org/topics/money/conflict
  • ↑ https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/infidelity/art-20048424

About This Article

Allen Wagner, MFT, MA

To fix a relationship, talk to your partner whenever something is bothering you, even if it's small, so you're not bottling up your feelings. Although it's not always easy, try your best to stay calm when you talk to them about how you feel, and avoid blaming them or bringing up the past. Once you've been honest with each other, focus on reconnecting with your partner by making time for them every day, going on regular dates again, and being affectionate. For tips from our reviewer on how to overcome relationship hurdles, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Communication Issues in Relationships: 4-Step Guide to Identify and Fix Them

by Dr. Sarah Schewitz | Apr 29, 2019 | 0 comments

Ah, relationships. Those mysterious joinings of two people who may or may not be from different planets. How can we ever make relationships work when each person brings a unique worldview, colored by their own experiences into the mix ? Are we all destined to a future of communication issues in relationships?

Luckily, we’re not. Psychologists have been asking themselves these same questions for years and have actually come up with some pretty reliable answers on how to fix communication issues in relationships.

If you’ve been reading my blog posts, you probably know by now that I’m a huge fan of Drs. John and Julie Gottman, expert therapists and researchers in the area of couples counseling. 

In my work with clients, I use many of the techniques that the Gottmans introduced – the Gottman Method for couples therapy – because they have been backed by research and I find that they are extremely effective at helping couples overcome relationship problems. 

For decades, the Gottmans have been studying couples and what makes them tick. One of the biggest discoveries that came through their research was the theory of the Gottman Method “Four Horsemen,” which are four behaviors that accurately serve as predictors of divorce. 

The idea is that if we can avoid or minimize these four behaviors, then we can solve communication issues in relationships and our relationships stand a fighting chance. However, if the Gottman Method Four Horsemen are present and you do nothing to change it, you’re in for a really unhappy relationship or a breakup.

These four behaviors are:

  • Defensiveness (not taking responsibility)
  • Stonewalling (Emotionally Shutting down)

As we’ll explore throughout the rest of this guide, all four of these behaviors really stem from communication issues in relationships. The reason these behaviors are SO detrimental to your relationship is that they cause fights to escalate to a point where things get nasty and out of control. 

If these behaviors show up in your fights, you probably say and do things you regret and you have a really hard time resolving your arguments. You fight and fight until you are both exhausted and frustrated beyond caring anymore. Eventually, you both get sick of fighting and make up but without ever having a productive and civil conversation about the topic. Once you are getting along again, no one wants to rock the boat by trying to talk things through because you are both terrified of getting right back into another draining fight. 

This lack of communication in a relationship is not healthy conflict management and over time, fighting like this will deteriorate your relationship to the point where you completely lose respect for each other. When you get to this point, the odds are really not in your favor.

In fact, Dr. Gottman can predict with over 90% accuracy if a couple will divorce, largely based on whether or not these 4 behaviors are present. It’s THAT serious.

In this article, we will look at what each behavior is, what it might look like in your relationship, and what you can do to stop it from ruining your relationship. Ready to learn more about how to fix communication in a relationship?

Start by taking our quiz to find out if these 4 behaviors are present in your relationship, and then keeping reading to learn more about each behavior – and how they impact communication issues in relationships

The 4 Behaviors That Lead to Communication Issues in Relationships

The 1st horseman – stonewalling: how to stop shutting down emotionally in a relationship.

The first of the Gottman Method “Four Horsemen” is called Stonewalling. Stonewalling is the label that the Gottmans gave to the action of shutting down, one of the most common communication issues in relationships. If you have a partner who shuts down emotionally, you know what this looks like. A stonewalling partner is usually expressionless in their face, has a monotonous tone, and usually uses short one-word answers, if any at all. Stonewalling is more typical in males but it’s definitely not just males who are capable of shutting down.

Why Do Guys Shut Down Emotionally?

Anyone who has a low threshold for dealing with emotions or a history of trauma from past relationships (in childhood or as an adult) is likely to stonewall. Often, men are less fluent in emotions than women because women are socialized to talk about their feelings whereas men are not. 

In typical American culture (and this holds true for most cultures I know of), men are taught to be stoic and strong. They are told things like “big boys don’t cry” growing up as kids and these words have an impact. If we go even further back to caveman times, men were hunters and women were gatherers and also raised the children. In order to be able to hunt and kill, men could not be sentimental. And women could not be completely shut down emotionally and be successful in keeping their families and the tribe together and connected. 

Thus, there are many reasons why men might have a harder time with strong emotions than women and why they are more likely to stonewall. Having said that, it’s still very common for women to engage in this behavior too.

Most of the time, when one partner shuts down, it causes the other partner to try even harder to get answers and only exacerbates communication issues in relationships. 

At first, the partner being shut out might criticize and yell. If that doesn’t work, they may beg and plead and if that doesn’t work, they may even escalate to throwing or breaking things. The partner who feels like they’re being left in the cold will often relentlessly try to engage their significant other, to no avail. This cycle is extremely common and unbelievably frustrating for everyone involved. In the end, both partners are in a state of panic, although, this panic looks completely different for each person.

What is really happening inside when someone is shutting down emotionally?

Believe it or not, research has shown that the partner who is shutting down is actually very physically alert, even though they don’t look like it. Their heart rate is likely over 100 BMP and they are feeling what we therapists call “flooded.” Being flooded happens when your body and mind are overwhelmed due to strong emotions. When you are flooded, your heart rate increases, you might feel very tense, you might feel hot or sweat, you could start shaking, your access to rational thought is limited, it’s hard to control your emotions, and you may even lose your peripheral vision and start seeing tunnel vision. It’s definitely not a state that helps alleviate communication issues in relationships!

This all happens because your body is going into fight or flight mode. It’s reacting as if there is real physical danger in front of you and it is getting ready to fight, run or freeze. At that point, having an effective and rational conversation is NOT in the cards. Human survival instinct is kicking in and conscious, rational thought has left the building. Furthermore, your hippocampus doesn’t function well when you are flooded and it is the part of your brain involved with memory. This is why you and your partner can have completely different recollections of what was said or done in a fight and you both feel right. In reality, if you were both flooded, neither of you really knows what happened. Your brain was only half there and it just fills in the gaps with what it thinks probably happened based on your beliefs or past experiences.

The Solution to Stonewalling Communication Issues in Relationships

When you and your partner are in this situation and struggling with communication problems in marriage, you each need different things. One might need space, and the other needs connection. Unfortunately, there is no way for you to receive the connection that you need until your partner has had space.

While this might seem like an impossible standoff, there is a way to solve this problem.

Give your partner the space that they need. Be willing to take a break, and take a step back. Agree on a time-limit for this break, so that you both know when and where you will come back together to talk about the situation. When the break is over, it’s the responsibility of the partner that requested the break to re-initiate conversation. This way, the partner who wants to talk ASAP will not feel the other is using the break as a way to avoid the conversation altogether.

While you and your partner can decide what time limit feels right for you, many couples use 20 minutes as their guideline. After 20 minutes of some kind of self-soothing activity (breathing, walking, bathing, meditation), come back together with calm hearts and eased minds. Then you can use some of my healthy communication techniques for relationships to guide your discussion.

Above all, remember that when your partner is emotionally unavailable, it isn’t about you. They are simply trying to feel safe in the only way they know how. It may feel like you have no communication in a relationship, but they are not trying to be difficult. In fact, they are trying to make things better by avoiding talking and not saying something that makes you feel even worse. Remembering this can sometimes help you pull back when your partner needs it most.

Do you handle conflict in a healthy way? Take our quiz to find out.

The 2nd Horseman: Criticism In Relationships

The second of the Gottman Method “Four Horsemen” is criticism. Criticism occurs when one partner verbally attacks the other and can be one of the most hurtful communication issues in relationships. This is different from voicing a complaint or offering a critique, both of which are perfectly appropriate, and center around specific issues. Criticism, on the other hand,  is when you make a blanket statement about your partner’s personality or entire being.

Examples of Criticism in Relationships

Criticism sounds harsh, like something you would never want to hear your spouse saying to you. Someone with a critical partner might often say “I get blamed for everything in my relationship.” However, someone highly defensive may also say that so if you’re feeling blamed a lot, it might be that your partner is critical or it might be that you are overly defensive. Or it might be both – but more on that later!

Criticism might sound something like:

“You never listen to me! You are a horrible husband! How can you be so selfish?!”

“ You never do anything that I ask you to. You are so lazy!”

“ You only care about going out with your friends. You leave me to do everything with the kids!”

How to Fix Communication Issues in a Relationship and Stop the Blame Game

It should come as no surprise that criticism doesn’t lead you anywhere except down the blame trail – not a great way to avoid relationship problems!. It also leads to defensive behavior in relationships. Still, what else can you do when you need to share a complaint with your spouse?

The Gottmans believe that the antidote (or cure) for criticism is called “The Gentle Startup.” Let me show you what this looks like. The skeleton for this communication tool appears like this:

I feel ________about___________. I appreciate ________ and need or request __________.

Okay, now, let’s fill in the blanks. Say, for example, you have been feeling insecure because your spouse has been spending a great deal of time with a co-worker, and you are starting to worry that they may have feelings for this person If you were to use criticism, you might say something like:

“All you want to do is be with Kerry. You never come home on time anymore. You don’t even care how this makes me feel. You are so selfish. Why don’t you just go ahead and leave me, since you’re probably planning to anyway!”

After a statement like that, a huge argument would probably begin. So, let’s try Gottman’s gentle startup method, and see how that would sound.

Use I Statements to Avoid Getting Angry and Improve Communication Issues in Relationships

What’s an I statement? An I statement is a sentence that you start with the word “I,” and it focuses on how you feel instead of what you don’t like about the other person.

In this example, if you were using the softened startup formula, you might say, “ I feel insecure about your relationship with Kerry.”

Here you used an I statement to describe your feelings, which helps solve communication issues in relationships because you aren’t placing the blame on your partner. In addition, you are describing the situation in neutral terms, without adding your own opinions into the mix, (i.e. you didn’t say: “I feel insecure about your scandalous relationship with Kerry). As you can see, one extra word can really make a difference.

Hint* – I feel statements need to include how you feel about the situation , not about what your partner is doing. Saying something like: “I feel that you are selfish,” or “I feel like you are being sketchy” are not effective I statements, even though technically they start with an I. If you find yourself adding “that” or “like” after the words “I feel,” you are no longer describing a feeling. You are now getting into a thought or interpretation. An appropriate I statement feels vulnerable and might be a little scary to share at first, but I promise it will get you farther than if you were to play the blame game.

Find Something That You Appreciate About Your Spouse

Once you’ve got the I statement down, it’s time to find something that you appreciate about your spouse. This is one of the best ways to figure out how to communicate better with your partner.

For example, you might say, “I appreciate how hard you’ve been working in order to support our family.” This lets your partner know that you see the value of their work and that you appreciate what they are doing to provide for you. As the saying goes, “People who feel appreciated, will always do more than what’s expected of them.” Not to mention, your partner is going to be a lot more receptive to your proposed solution if you butter them up with a warm compliment first.

Be Clear About What You Need or Want for Faster Resolution of Communication Issues in Relationships

The last piece of the “Gentle Startup” involves making a clear and direct request. Something like: “It would help me if you could limit your communication with Kerry to work discussions only and call or text me at least once during the day, just so I know that you are thinking of me.”

This is a clear request, which focuses on what you want to see happen, rather than what you don’t want.

Interesting tidbit – It’s always better to put requests in the positive form (e.g. please speak to me more quietly and calmly), instead of telling someone what you don’t want them to do (e.g. please don’t yell at me). This is because our brains can sometimes leave out the “don’t,” and only focus on the other parts of the sentence.

Putting It All Together: How to Avoid Arguments

Okay, now let’s put our whole new sentence using Gottman’s “Gentle Startup” approach together:

“I feel insecure about your relationship with Kerry. I appreciate how hard you’ve been working in order to support our family. It would help me if you could limit your communication with Kerry to work discussions only and call or text me at least once during the day, just so I know that you are thinking of me.”

Doesn’t that sound better than the critical version? I think so, and I can guarantee that it will lead to a better conversation.

How to Respond to Criticism in Relationships & Fix Communication Issues in Relationships

Now let’s say that you are the one being criticized in your relationship. How can you respond to that in a way that will get you the peace that you crave?

The first thing that you want to do is actually listen to the criticism that you are being served, and then ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does this criticism make sense to me?
  • Is this about me, or is it a projection that has more to do with my spouse than me?
  • If it’s true, is it something that I want to change?
  • If it is not true, how might I have contributed to the way my partner feels right now?

Once you figure out whether the criticism is actually helpful for you, you can decide how to respond.

If the criticism doesn’t seem to fit for you, you can ask your partner what contributed to them feeling this way. Listen respectfully and validate their feelings by saying something like “given what you just shared, it makes sense why you feel that way. However, I want to share a different perspective with you.” Next, share with your partner why you think it doesn’t fit. If, on the other hand, all, or part, of what was said is helpful, then you can thank your spouse and say that you will work on whatever they brought up.

Of course, if the criticism is being delivered to you in a mean, rude, or hurtful way, you have every right to let your spouse know that this is not okay. You don’t have to put up with being put down! If this is the case, you might want to say something like:

“I want to listen to your feedback, but your tone and the words that you are using are making it hard for me. Could you please tell me what you have to say in a more peaceful way?”

Whatever you decide to do, if your goal is to fix communication issues in relationships, it’s best to remain calm while you do it. Even though hearing criticism about yourself can be quite triggering, you will only make matters worse if you get all your hairs in a tangle over it.

The 3rd Horseman: Defensive Behavior In Relationships

The third of the Gottman Method “Four Horsemen” is defensiveness. Defensiveness is the act of defending yourself against a real or perceived attack, and it’s actually a natural reaction when we are feeling backed into a corner. As a result, it’s another one of the most common communication issues in relationships. 

Most animals in nature defend themselves, and humans are no different. In fact, back when we were hunting and gathering, it was necessary to defend ourselves from anything that might kill us. Being on guard and defensive is what kept us alive so it is deeply ingrained in us as humans. Having said that, if you want a conscious relationship, you have to learn how to override instinct and unconscious reactions and make different, less combative choices.

Defensive Communication Issues in Relationships

Defensive behavior in relationships shows up 1 of 4 ways from what I have seen.

The first is complete denial which sounds something like “I did not do that!” You might even throw in a counter attack and say “YOU are the one who did that!” if you are feeling particularly defensive. 

The second is saying something like “Yeah, I did that but you do it all the time so who are you to criticize me for it?” 

The third is saying something like “ok, I did do that but you did something way worse last week so you have no right to talk!”

The fourth is blaming your partner for what you did. For example, “It’s your fault I had to yell. You weren’t listening.”

Why Do People Get Defensive in Relationships?

Aside from being wired to protect ourselves from what we think is dangerous, there are many other reasons that defensiveness is one of the most common communication issues in relationships. 

One of the biggest predictors of whether a person will react defensively to any form of criticism is how that person was treated when he or she was a child .

For example, if you were shamed, criticized, or punished harshly as a child, you will likely have a stronger reaction to criticism as an adult. Children who grew up being shamed were taught that love is conditional. They received love when they were good but they were shamed and often shut out when they were bad. Shaming means they were made to feel that THEY were bad rather than their behavior. As adults, these individuals tend to take negative feedback from anyone as an insult to their character and a threat to the relationship so they have a lower tolerance for it. They want to protect themselves from feeling the hurt and rejection they felt as a child, and will use a variety of techniques to stop their significant other from saying that they did anything wrong, even if they know they did. This behavior is often associated with a victim mentality in relationships .

Another reason that you might react defensively to criticism is if you have low self-esteem. If you don’t feel good about yourself as is, it’s really hard to tolerate someone telling you something negative about your behavior without making it mean more than it’s intended to. People with low self-esteem often interpret feedback to mean that they are unworthy or unlovable and it sends them into a shame spiral. On the other hand, if you feel pretty good about yourself in general, it’s easier to take feedback in and really consider it without going into a shame spiral. Read this to learn how to love yourself more.

Defensiveness in Relationships

Earlier, I was saying that defensiveness is natural in the animal kingdom. When you’re exploring how to communicate better with your spouse, however, defensiveness doesn’t do us any favors. So, it would benefit us to remember that our partners are not trying to kill us. Instead, we need to recognize they are trying to express themselves and we need to give them the chance to do so.

Let me give you an example of what a defensive reaction to a comment might be:

Your Partner: Your snoring is keeping me up at night .

You: No it isn’t! I don’t even snore! You must be waking yourself up with your own snoring! You should really get that checked.

Do you see what happened there? Not only did “you” (quotes because the real YOU would NEVER), not accept what your partner was saying, but you went and turned it back around on him. Clearly, this approach is not going to go well in the long run.

Still, it can be hard to listen to feedback from your significant other, especially when you feel like you are being criticized or blamed for everything in the relationship.

I get it. You don’t want to see yourself as a snorer. Who does? Going a little deeper, you might even fear that your partner could leave you because of it, so your immediate reaction is to DENY, DENY, DENY. (We will talk more about denial in a little bit).

How to Be Less Defensive In a Relationship and Fix Communication Issues in Relationships 

So, what is the antidote for defensiveness? You aren’t going to like it, but just like a medicine that doesn’t taste good, it’s good for you. It’s called taking responsibility.

Now, I’m certainly not suggesting that you take responsibility for 100% of everything that your partner throws at you. However, if your partner came to you with genuine concern, then it’s up to you to make him or her feel heard. There is always, always, ALWAYS something you can take responsibility for.

Even if you did not intend to hurt your partner’s feelings, you can still apologize for the fact that you did hurt them by saying something like “I had no idea my behavior was going to impact you in this way. I’m really sorry I hurt your feelings.” This is NOT to be confused with the terrible apology “I’m sorry your feelings are hurt” or “I’m sorry you’re upset” which essentially just insinuates that it’s your partner’s fault their feelings are hurt.

Okay, now let’s imagine an example of a response where you took responsibility for what your partner was saying in the snoring example:

Your partner: Your snoring is keeping me up at night.

You: Okay, I didn’t realize that I was snoring. Let’s figure out what we can do to help you sleep better.

Unlike the defensive response, this one opens up the lines of communication between you and your partner, allowing the two of you to move on to problem-solving, instead of being stuck in a stand-off. Doing this will help you realize that you are not at war with each other, you are together against a common enemy: snoring! (Or whatever the fight might be that day). 

In the example above, you were able to come at your spouse with a gentler, softer tone which helped you get better results. Sometimes, though, you or your partner might not even realize that you are being defensive, because one, or both of you might be using defense mechanisms. Practicing this kind of response regularly can go a long way toward fixing all kinds of communication issues in relationships.

Defense Mechanisms in Relationships

The idea of defense mechanisms is almost as old as psychology itself, dating back to Sigmund Freud. Defense mechanisms are strategies that our unconscious mind comes up with to help us deal with thoughts or feelings that we just cannot accept as our own.

While there are many types of defense mechanisms that we might use with ourselves (yes, we even hide our thoughts from ourselves sometimes), there are a few that we use most often in relationships. These strategies include:

Projection: Projection occurs when you place your own thoughts, feelings, or emotions onto another person. You do this because you can’t accept how you really feel, or what you really think.

Example: You accuse your spouse of wanting to cheat on you because you actually want to cheat on him. Or you accuse your partner of being angry when YOU are actually angry.

Denial or Repression: Denial/repression happens when you simply block facts or events from your mind.

Example: When your partner asks why you spent $600 at Target, you say that you didn’t do that. You aren’t lying on purpose, your mind actually made you believe that you didn’t spend the money.

Rationalization: Rationalization involves changing the facts to make a situation less threatening.

Example: In the Target example above, instead of outright denying that you spent the money, you might come up with an excuse, like: “They were having the biggest sale of the year, so if you think about it, I actually saved us money!”

Reaction Formation: Reaction Formation occurs when you do the opposite of what you really feel.

Example: You are pissed at your spouse but you clean the entire house and make their favorite dinner.

Remember, all of these behaviors are done subconsciously, in the part of your brain where you aren’t fully aware of what you are doing. Realizing what you are doing and bringing it out into the light, is the first step to healing from these behaviors and fixing communication issues in relationships.

The 4th Horseman: CONTEMPT

The fourth of the Gottman Method “Four Horsemen” is contempt and it is the most damaging of the bunch. Contempt is the most accurate of the predictors of divorce because it conveys a complete lack of respect for your partner and it completely erodes the fondness and admiration between the two of you. If contempt is one of your communication issues in relationships, read this next section carefully.

What is Contempt?

The Gottmans describe contempt as:

  • Being mean to your partner
  • Treating your partner with disrespect
  • Rolling your eyes at your partner
  • Making fun of your partner
  • Sarcastic behavior
  • Emotionally abusive
  • Name calling
  • Making your partner feel worthless, stupid, or belittled in some way
  • Acting as if you are superior, and your partner is inferior
  • Putting your partner down in public (or at all really but it’s especially embarrassing in public)

What Leads to Being Mean In Relationships?

According to the Gottmans, contempt stems from long-standing negative thoughts about your partner that haven’t been expressed. These thoughts then boil over into resentments and come out in a very snobby, and often sarcastic, way. Interestingly, the Gottmans found that couples who act with contempt toward one another are more likely to get colds and illnesses because their immune systems are weaker. It’s literally a toxic behavior!

An Example of Contempt

Alright, you know I like examples, so here is an example of a wife responding to her husband’s statement with contempt:

Husband: I’ve always wanted to learn to play the guitar.

Wife: Oh, really? Could you be any more useless? Why can’t you focus on something real, like making more money? How will you playing the guitar help us? You probably can’t even keep a tune!

The above are signs you could be in an emotionally abusive relationship.

What to Do When Your Partner Keeps Putting You Down and Name Calling You

Most people don’t really know how damaging name calling in a relationship is.

According to Gottman Method couples therapy, the antidote, or cure for contempt is to “build a culture of fondness and admiration.”

Okay, but how do we do that?

First, let me just say that if there are many interactions like the one above, occurring in your relationship, it’s probably time to reach out to a couples therapist for help . Things are too far gone in your relationship and you need a professional to help you make a change ASAP.

However, if things are still relatively okay between the two of you, the Gottmans suggest focusing on the positive. One way to do this and begin improving communication issues in relationships is by keeping a gratitude journal and writing down 1 thing you love and appreciate about your partner daily. Bonus points if you share it with them! 

Another way to do this is by looking into the history of your relationship to try and remember what you liked about each other in the first place as a way to rebuild that fondness and admiration. Here is a list of questions formulated by the Gottmans, that could help you remember:

The History of Your Relationship:

  • Discuss how the two of you met and got together. Was there anything about your partner that made them stand out? What were your first impressions of each other?
  • What do you remember most about your first date and the period of your new relationship? What stands out? How long did you know each other before you got married? What do you remember of this period? What were some of the highlights? What types of things did you do together?
  • Talk about how you decided to get married. Who proposed and in what manner? Was it a difficult decision? Were you in love? Talk about this time.
  • How well do you remember your wedding? Talk to each other about your memories. Did you have a honeymoon? What was your favorite part of the wedding or honeymoon?
  • Do you remember your first year of marriage? Were there any adjustments you needed to make as a couple?
  • What about the transition to parenthood? What was this period of your marriage like for the two of you?
  • Looking back over the years, what moments stand out as the happiest period in your relationship? When was a good time for you as a couple? Has this changed over the years?
  • Many relationships go through periods of ups and downs. Would you say this is true of your relationship? Can you describe some of these low and high points?
  • Looking back over the years, what moments stand out as really hard times in your relationship? How did you get through these rough periods? Why do you think you stayed together?
  • Have you stopped doing things together that once gave you pleasure? Explore this idea together and discuss why you stopped.

Okay, now that you remember what you love about each other let’s try talking about guitar lessons again:

Wife: That sounds fun. I love how you always want to try new things. Maybe you can serenade me after a few lessons.

Ahhhh, now that sounds like a conversation built out of admiration!

If you can change your responses from ones of contempt to ones of respect and admiration, I guarantee that your relationship will bloom.

Ready to Fix Communication Issues in Relationships?

So there you have it, the four behaviors that you really want to try and avoid in your relationship because they are predictors of divorce or breakup, are Stonewalling, Criticism, Defensiveness, and Contempt. These are also common roots of communication issues in relationships.

For each of these areas, I’ve explained the essentials: what they are, what they look like in relationships, how to avoid them, and what you can do instead. Of course, we aren’t perfect and glimpses of these unwanted behaviors are bound to show up from time to time. The point is to try and avoid falling back on these behaviors as your normal way of being.

If you’ve made it all the way to the end of this article, chances are you really care about improving your relationship and learning how to be a better communicator in a relationship. That’s a great sign! 

Remember, relationships are full of ups and downs and they take a lot of work to help them run smoothly. The good news is that the work that you do is never wasted. Even the most difficult relationships are teaching us valuable lessons about who we really are.

If you recognized yourself or your partner in this article and would like to talk more about how we at Couples Learn can help you improve your relationship with online couples therapy, book a free 30-minute consultation with one of our therapists. We are all experts in love and relationships and are here to help you learn how to communicate better with your spouse or partner!

how to fix relationship communication problems

Darlene Lancer, JD, LMFT

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Signs of Serious Relationship Problems

Instead of arguing or ignoring things, read the signs and take effective action..

Posted April 18, 2019 | Reviewed by Ekua Hagan


Good relationships run smoothly and enable you to enjoy your life, work, and activities beyond the relationship. You’re not always worrying or talking about it. Like a smooth-running car, you don’t have to keep repairing it. You may have disagreements and get angry, but you still have goodwill toward one another, talk things over, resolve conflicts, and return to a loving, enjoyable state.

Cars do need maintenance, however. Take care of it, and it performs better. Relationships also take time and effort to maintain an intimate connection. This happens naturally in the initial romantic stage when you want to get to know your partner, spend time together, have frequent sex , and are more open and flexible. You’re less willing to compromise and may want less intimacy. Even if you don’t actually argue, you may return to the same emotional state you were in before you met — or worse — and wonder where your love went or whether your partner loves you. This is where the “struggle for intimacy” is required in order to maintain that love connection.

Here are some warning signs that your relationship may be in trouble. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not salvageable or that you can’t get the love connection back, but it does mean you both need to have honest communication and may need the assistance of a marriage counseling. The following list of relationship problems applies to either you or your partner. They’re also common characteristics of codependent relationships, and codependency may be the underlying issue.

1. Inflexibility or repeated unwillingness to compromise on decisions, such as social activities, chores, moving, and having children.

2. Selfishness or self-involvement with your own feelings and needs, without concern and support for those of your partner.

3. Meddling by parents.

4. Repeated deference to a friend or relative over your partner’s objection.

5. Repeated instances of critical, undermining, blaming, sarcastic, disrespectful, or manipulative comments. This is verbal abuse.

6. A pattern of withholding communication, affection, or sex. This is often a sign of veiled anger.

7. Arguments or problems that don’t get resolved.

8. Raging or name-calling.

9. Keeping secrets.

10. Passive-aggressive or aggressive behavior, including shoving or breaking objects.

11. Controlling behavior, including giving unwanted advice, ordering, or withholding money for affordable expenses in order to control.

12. A secret romantic relationship or pattern of flirting .

13. Use of drugs or alcohol that impacts the relationship or work.

14. Too much time apart if it causes your partner dissatisfaction.

15. Persistent resentments, judgments, or disappointments.

16. Lack of open communication generally, or communication that lacks personal content. Note that this may not be a problem for some couples with low intimacy needs, where their relationship functions well like a business partnership.

17. Breakdown of trust. This can be caused by numerous things, such as dishonesty, using personal information against your partner, unreliability, broken promises or agreements violating personal boundaries , or infidelity .

18. You need constant attention , validation, or reassurance – whatever’s given is never fulfilling for very long.

19. There are subjects that are off-limits or you’re afraid to talk about.

20. Violating personal boundaries, such as disrespecting your request to not be called at work, to not have confidential information repeated to others, to not be criticized about something, or to not read your mail.

This purpose of this checklist is not to score your relationship or your partner, but to raise issues that you may need to address personally and talk openly about with him or her. Many of these relationship problems revolve around lack of healthy, assertive communication — communication that is open, direct, respectful, honest, and personal.

how to fix relationship communication problems

Couples get into problems when they’re afraid to be honest — usually because they think the truth will upset their partner and might jeopardize the relationship. They don’t express their hurt or to ask for the love or support they want, or they do so in a way that’s critical or blaming. People learn to communicate and problem-solve with others in their family growing up. Without good role models, some never learned how to be assertive. Assertiveness can be learned but takes practice.

Other relationship problems are created by an imbalance of power, where one partner attempts to dominate the other through aggression , control, or emotional or verbal abuse. This is damaging to the relationship and the self-esteem of the other partner. It’s not uncommon in relationships with an addict or narcissist . One partner can control the other through neediness, demands for attention or validation, or playing the victim, with the expectation that the other person makes him or her happy.

Repetitive negative relationship patterns stem from problems originating in childhood , such as disrespectful communication, lack of nurturing or free emotional expression, a controlling parent, violation of boundaries, neglect, witnessing parental conflict, mental illness, addiction , or abuse. A variety of dysfunctional parenting styles cause shame and undermine a child’s self-esteem, which continues into adulthood.

Shame and low self-esteem thwart love, intimacy, and assertive communication. Individuals with shame and low self-esteem don’t feel worthy of love and/or respect, and either withdraw emotionally or push their partner away directly or indirectly. They abuse or allow abuse, imagine they’re being criticized when they’re not, and are so afraid of losing the relationship that they smother or control their partner or withhold negative feelings and build resentments.

The struggle for intimacy requires the courage to face unhealthy behavior and attitudes and be vulnerable. It entails overcoming defenses of denial , withdrawal, control, or placating to avoid a real connection. Don't ignore these problems or just argue about them, which deepens the divide between you and your partner.

Instead, go to couples counseling. Because relationships are dynamic systems, when one partner behaves in a manner listed above, it damages the relationship. Similarly, studies show that if you improve your self-esteem and communication skills, the relationship improves. Many times, one spouse in individual therapy makes positive changes, and the marriage changes for the better.

©Darlene Lancer 2013

Darlene Lancer, JD, LMFT

Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT, is a licensed marriage and family therapist and an expert and author on relationships and codependency.

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Growing Self: Counseling and Coaching

Solve The Biggest Problem In Your Relationship: Communication

how to fix relationship communication problems

How to Fix Communication in a Relationship

Are you wondering how to fix communication in your relationship but feel like there’s just no way out of the impasse and disconnection? “We can’t communicate with each other” is probably the number-one complaint of most couples coming in for couples counseling or online marriage counseling . The underlying issue can be about anything: parenting, sex, money, priorities. But the result is the same — tense, frustrating moments for both of you. Many couples don’t even remember what half the fights are even about, just that communicating with their partner feels impossible.

Communication problems in relationships make even the simplest moments feel difficult, and like a new fight is always simmering under the surface. Even the banalest question, like “what do you want to do for dinner?” can turn into a conflict when you’re talking to your partner and having a negative reaction to their tone of voice, or the way they respond to you (or don’t respond to you), or the assumptions they make, or the fact that unresolved hurts and resentments are piling up between you.

Poor communication makes relationship problems worse. It’s easy to fall into negative patterns when you don’t feel safe sharing with each other in an open and honest way. As communication problems get worse, couples stop feeling close and connected. They start to make negative judgments about each other’s character. Communication patterns like passive aggression and pursue-withdraw cycles get worse. Couples who’ve gone really far down this path may stop being affectionate, use closed-off body language, and they may even stop making eye contact.

Because communication issues are such a major problem for so many couples, and I’ve been getting SO many questions about it from podcast listeners, I’ve decided to help you solve this problem and fix communication in a relationship by creating a three-part podcast “mini-series” on the subject of how to improve the communication in your relationship.

How to Fix Communication Problems in Marriage

In today’s first episode, I’ll be introducing some main ideas that can help you understand why conflicts happen, and what YOU can do to fix communication in your relationship starting today.

Next week we’ll be talking about how to handle things if you have a partner who seems angry, snappish, or emotionally reactive .

And then in the following episode we’ll be talking about how to communicate with a partner who shuts down .

I sincerely hope that these ideas help you both find your way back together again.

xoxo, Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

Ps. Do YOU have specific questions you’d like me to answer on an upcoming podcast? Record your question for me using the “voice recording” widget on this page , or leave a question in the comments! LMB

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how to fix relationship communication problems

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self. She is a licensed psychologist, a licensed marriage and family therapist, and a board-certified coach, as well as the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

Learn more about Dr. Lisa

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how to fix relationship communication problems

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self. She is a licensed psychologist, a licensed marriage and family therapist, and a board-certified coach, as well as the author of "Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love," and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.


So what happens when you communicate regarding communication. See no effort. But there’s effort towards looking for a repair brochure for a insignificant tool….

YOU do the hw you’d hope they would show interest in doing. Fine a piece worth suggesting ti them. And eventhen they don’t care to become informed.

Claus, I totally agree that this is such a hard situation. In the case you’re describing, it may be worth doing some soul-searching around whether or not this relationship has enough strength and positive qualities for you to want to continue in it. I have a podcast planned to come out soon around this topic of “when is it time to end a relationship” and I’ll be sure to leave the link here in case you want to check it out. In the meantime I hope that you are finding ways to support yourself, and cultivate other, more positive relationships in your life. Sincerely, Lisa

I found this podcast so enlighting and ironically I just told myself this same thing just a few days ago! I can only control my reactions/behaviors and so I am trying to tell myself to take a deep breath and not react immediately or at all when I know that the reaction is most likely going to be one that I am not happy with. As you mentioned, this takes an immense amount of self awareness and it is going to be a work in progress for quite some time. Hearing you recommend this method to help this unhealthy pattern of communication that we have become accustomed to is definitely encouraging. Thank you for offering this. It is exactly what I needed to hear when I searched for some answers tonight.

I’m so glad this was helpful to you! Thank you for listening to the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast. 🙂 LMB

How do you deal with an overly sarcastic partner? My partner can be very sarcastic and I know that he says things in jest and usually I can take it in stride, but sometimes – it’s very difficult not to take things personally. What would you recommend?

Tell him how you feel, in a very direct, honest and non confrontational way. Ask for what you’d like to have happen instead. Here’s more advice: “How to Get Your Needs Met in a Relationship.” I hope it helps.

PS: If he can’t or won’t here you, get involved in couples counseling. Your feelings are important and things like this can fester and grow into resentments that will destroy a relationship, over time.

PSS: “Sarcasm” is often a thin cover for anger and resentment, in my experience. If you do get your partner into couples counseling with you, it may help him learn how to be more authentic and direct with his feelings instead of hiding behind sarcasm or jokes that aren’t jokes. Then you two can work together to solve problems that will help him feel better too. LMB

Hello, first off I want to say thank you, not only do ur words move me but they help me understand myself and my relationship so much more so again thank you I love you…… so with that being said let me jump right in, my partner and I are going through this cycle of one day we are great talking, understanding each other, being loving and caring and at a blink of an eye I say or do something that puts him into this “ everything I do is wrong” I hate u mode and we are then doing the opposite of all the good things I mentioned above. And this goes back and fourth on and on. I guess what I am asking is how to get off this cycle we are on. When I ask what it is that I am doing to cause him to act out in anger towards me because I want to change it cuz I will do anything to make u not feel this way his response is always “ you don’t know? And that’s it won’t speak another word to me. There is a big age difference between us 10 years him being the older one is that maybe the reason he expects me to know why I make him feel this way? He is always making jokes about I believe to be his true feelings all the time like for example if he doesn’t like something I said while around other people he makes a joke about it and continues to make jokes about the same thing for days at a time what can I do to prevent these things from happening????? Please help me I don’t know what to do…. thank you,

Cristyna, thanks for your kind words. I’m glad that the relationship podcasts and articles at Growing Self have been helpful to you. With regards to your question: This sounds like a very challenging relationship. It sounds like you’re feeling invalidated by your partner, and like he’s punishing you emotionally. (Hearing some power and control things going on here Cristyna!)

In my professional opinion, if this is going to change, it’s going to require the support of a good couples therapist: What you have been doing does not seem to be working. Is he open to doing couples counseling or relationship coaching with you?

If you want to do couples counseling but your partner does not, one thing you might consider is taking our “How Healthy is Your Relationship” quiz and inviting him to do the same. (In the quiz you have the option of having it emailed to your partner, too). Then you can both take the quiz, and not just get your scores but get access to a series of videos I’ve made that discuss the different relationship domains. I think you two will definitely want to watch the ones related to communication and emotional safety, in particular.

Perhaps your partner hearing from a “relationship expert” on how some of the things he’s currently doing are destructive to your relationship may be the first step in getting him onboard with the idea of doing couples therapy? FYI, my little videos are in NO way a substitute for actual couples counseling or relationship coaching — they’re just there to provide a little education and direction for free.

The next step would be to get him into couples counseling to see if this can change. If he won’t go, I hope that you get into some good individual personal growth work that supports YOU in figuring out what is best for you, and how you can make positive changes in yourself that help you set boundaries with people who are not responsive to your emotional needs.

Hope these ideas help Cristyna, and good luck to you!

xo, Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

If we have a disagreement my wife’s normal reaction is to give me the silent treatment, of which she can hold for days.. and sends me around the bend! It feel like a definitive way to hurt me without having to say anything.. literally. I have historically given us both space to cool off and hope there’s a chance for us to discuss as adults or come together with forgiveness, yet the treatment can continue if/when I try to resolve it. I must stress I’m not losing my cool.. and am not looking to blame, but I’m yet to master how we can resolve issues in a more timely manner. I’m becoming concerned at this pattern, as it’s mentally taxing for me and don’t believe it’s healthy for either of us. Thoughts?

Jay, you’re totally right: This kind of punishing behavior is what Dr. John Gottman (who is THE name in research into marriage and family therapy) has termed one of the “four horseman of the apocalypse” because it is so destructive.

You are right to be concerned with this pattern, and I sincerely hope that you take effective action now to change this dynamic before it gets worse. (This dynamic tend to intensify over time). Please schedule an appointment with a competent professional marriage counselor who practices either emotionally focused couples therapy or the Gottman method of marriage counseling, both of which are evidence based and have a strong track record of resolving this type of toxic communication dynamic.

Please also look for someone with an “MFT” after their name, which (usually means they have specialized training and experience in couples and family therapy. (Except in California, interestingly — a lot of MFTs there do not have education or experience with couples! Really!) Avoid therapists with an LPC, or LCSW or even licensed psychologists. They are often happy to work with couples but don’t know enough to know what they don’t know, and it often results in relationships rupturing rather than being repaired.

If you would like to do this work with someone on the Growing Self team the first step in getting started is to schedule a free consultation session. Whether or not you work with us, I do hope you get help with this. It is unlikely to change otherwise, and if left unresolved, over time, this is the type of dynamic that breeds resentment, anger, damages trust, and which will destroy a marriage. Take action sooner rather than later!

Wishing you all the best, Lisa Marie Bobby

Is there a book you would recommend regarding this topic?

[…] Photo Credit […]

Thank you for your insightful podcasts! My partner tends to be insensitive to how his tone comes across. I have tried to talk to him and he says this is just the way he is and it is not intended to be negative towards me. He also tends to be critical of the way I do things and not accepting of me having my own way of accomplishing things. He can be quite bossy. He does run an office region so that may be part of that. How can I get him to realize tone does matter and that his way is not the only way?

Hi Sandy, thank you for sharing! Tone certainly does matter, and effects us and our relationships. I wonder if you and your partner have tried couples counseling or coaching? Working with a trained, neutral party such as a therapist or coach often helps us see and understand things with our partner that we just couldn’t hear from them in the past. And, of course, a relationship coach can help you practice new, effective communication tools , and help your husband see the benefits of other ways of connecting. If you’d like to learn more about couples counseling before jumping in, which is understandable, you may want to check out our FAQ page. xoxo, Dr. Lisa

I really found your podcast to be very helpful. Thank you! I feel communication is a big problem in our relationship. I think therapy would help us both (I’m independently seeing a therapist), but my partner has always been resistant. She sees couples therapy as a sign that all is lost, while I think it’s the pursuit of a healthy relationship. If you have any recommendations to help, I would highly appreciate it.

So me and my boyfriend tend to argue over how one of us feels. For example, I am a sensitive person and tend to stress the small things and when I tell him something upsets me he reacts and gets mad which just hurts my feelings more, then he says “I get upset at HIM all the time and it’s all his fault” when clearly I do not try and make him feel like that. I try so hard to make the communication between us but it’s like you said we both react at each other’s reactions and that’s what make it worse. I just don’t know what else I can do. I am going to try what you said in your podcast ‘I can’t control him and his actions only my actions and how I react.’ I really do think that will benefit the both of us… but is there any other advice you can give me to not lead him to think I’m always upset?

This podcast was so enlightening than you so much! I was wondering if you could please hear out my situation since it’s still an issue for us. My boyfriend always shuts down whenever I try and communicate my feelings after we argue. “Just move on its done” or “I’m not trying to be stressed tonight please just stop”. We don’t live together so trying to talk to him over the phone is extremely difficult. Even if I give it a day and ask how he felt he says he’s fine in a passive way. No matter how much I try, he just gets more frustrated every time I ask no matter what. I really need to communicate after an argument especially because I have a strong anxious attachment style and it just consumes me. I want to stay with him on the long run. But he just is so against the idea. Please help!

Hi Alyssa, this sounds so hard! So many couples can get caught in this pursue/withdraw dance, or anxious/avoidant type of dynamic. And it’s painful! You might like the episode “ How to Improve Communication – Fast ,” or “ Withdrawn Partner? Stop Pushing Them Further Away… ” It sounds like you’re definitely trying to respect his need to take a break, process, calm down, and generally have some space for all of this – which is so important. Next to that, we can focus on healing and calming that anxious attachment you mention. What an opportunity to focus on YOU, building your self-esteem, reflecting on what boundaries you need to set with yourself and others to take care of YOU. You might also want to read Amir Levine’s book “Attached.” All my best, Dr. Lisa

Hi Ella, I wish I had a magic wand that could “make” people not get upset. Wouldn’t that be helpful to us all! As you mentioned, you can’t control his reactions to your feelings. We do impact our relationships, though, and it’s conscientious of you to take a look at your part. There are some communication tools that can help draw our partner close, rather than push them away: using I statements, being aware of timing, practicing Gottman’s “soft start up,” focusing on your experience rather than analyzing your partner, and being vulnerable… There are more, which a couple’s counselor could help with tremendously. Thank you for reaching out, Dr. Lisa

I’m so glad that you found this podcast helpful. Yes, I do have recommendations. Check out this podcast: What to do if your partner refuses marriage counseling. Also, you might consider listening to this one with her too: Why relationships fail.

I suggested the last one because I think it’s really important for people to understand that it’s essential to listen to your partner’s complaints and concerns without minimizing them, and being really resistant to working on things because over time, it causes a lot of damage. Sometimes, irreparable damage. I’m not hearing that you guys are in that place, given what you shared. But three more years of this and you might be.

In my experience, people’s core beliefs about therapy are just that: beliefs. Often tied to culture and preconceived ideas about what it “means” to be involved in growth work.

You and I know that working on yourself, and working on your relationship is essentially the same thing as everything else we’ve done to become healthy and successful people: We went to school, we exercise, we continue to learn how to do things that carry us in the right direction (managing finances well, being productive and organized with our work, being better parents). We need to keep learning and working on ourselves, always.

It makes me so incredibly sad that some people have internalized negative messages about what it means to get professional help for personal things like our relationships. Please tell your partner that I said that I believe that the strongest, healthiest, and happiest people are the ones most likely to be in my office. It’s the ones who are wandering around in the world without support, because they feel like working on themselves and their relationships means something “is wrong” — those are the people who struggle and suffer the most.

I will also say that, in my experience, particularly when it comes to smoothing the rough edges off of communication problems, a relationship coaching model is often much more helpful approach than traditional insight oriented psychotherapy. It just gets to the point, and addresses the things that you can both do to have a nicer experience with each other. If your partner has big feelings about “therapy” I wonder if she’d be more receptive to the idea of getting guidance from a relationship coach?

Just FYI, if you go that route, please look for a licensed marriage and family therapist who provides relationship coaching. Most therapists have little to no training or experience in couples counseling. Even scarier, there is absolutely no education or credentialing required to call onself a “coach” – relationship or otherwise. Literally anyone can roll out of bed and start calling themselves a coach and accepting clients as such. Caveat emptor, my friend.

Here is more information on how to find a marriage counselor , and even more on the difference between couples therapy vs relationship coaching if you and your partner are interested in learning more.

Hope that perspective helps both of you. Wishing you all the best, Dr. Lisa

I have a question, this is great but, my hubby and I have our up and downs. Things change when he had a stroke, he is always angry. There is know more laugher, I usually don’t say much when he explodes, I pic. the hurtful words fly away and don’t let them touch me. I was told by his Dr. that this is not unusual after a stroke, this anger is part of the brain being damage. I am not sure how to handle this behavior. After the last uncontrol anger out break, he has started telling to get away from him if he feels the anger rising up. I don’t know if this is healthy or good, I understand he is protecting me, but in some ways it is frightening that he feels he has no control. He has never been physical and because I really don’t take what he says to heart, it does make him madder. After the last blow up he left me for a week and stay at a friends, after a week I went to see him to make sure he was ok. He was so happy to see me and that I had not left him. During that week I went through hell and thought the same that he was going to leave. There was no talking at all for that week, I was giving him time to calm down, maybe this was wrong but I was not walking into the lion den at that point. So now we are rebuilding but the sending me away because of the lack of control, as I said scares me and I am not sure to handle it. With it being brought on by the after effects of a stroke.

Debra, this does indeed sound painful. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m sure there are others who might read it that can relate to the struggles of caring for someone who has a mental or physical illness or disability. While there are unique considerations, a couples therapist can help you both chart a course with boundaries and coping tools needed to navigate this tough situation. Have you tried or considered getting this type of support? You can always reach out to us at Growing Self if you have any questions! In the meantime, you might be interested in learning more about couples therapy . xoxo, Lisa

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30 Common Relationship Problems and Solutions

Sylvia Smith

Jeannie Sytsma, AMFT, works for Relationship Reality 312 in downtown Chicago. At this highly-respected private practice she works mainly with couples who are experiencing... Read More

Sylvia Smith loves to share insights on how couples can revitalize their love lives in and out of the bedroom. As a writer at Marriage.com, she is a big believer in living... Read more

couple sitting and talking to each other

In This Article

Even the best of relationships run into problems sometimes. You’re both tired from work, or the kids are in trouble at school, or your in-laws are getting on your last nerve…you know how it goes.

Life throws all kinds of challenges at a relationship, from relocation to redundancy to illness. No wonder problems arise in even the strongest relationships.

To keep a relationship running smoothly, it is important to solve marriage problems before they snowball into bigger relationship problems.

When do relationships start to have common relationship problems?

For some, however, that phase of love eventually fades. As time passes and both parties of the relationship make their fair share of mistakes, what was once intoxicating becomes intolerable.

Much of the common relationship issues that couples face are minor and can easily be avoided with mutual effort, understanding and respect. Although bumps along the path of marriage are unavoidable, if you are aware of them beforehand, you will be able to overcome them without leading your relationship to the verge of collapse.

None of us are perfect, nor will we exactly be the same on every level.

Some character flaws, on the other hand, will be natural and acceptable. But if there are behaviors, perhaps a little lie here or an indiscretion there, it’s essential to consider that on a grander scale as the relationship progresses.

Is that an ongoing problem you want to work through continually, or does that constitute a deal-breaker? Something to consider.

10 causes of common relationship issues

What can destroy a relationship ? Many of the problems couples come to me for, seem to stem from issues that either cause or intensify their problems. But once couples learn how to address these two issues, everything else seems to start falling into place also.

Check out these causes of common relationship issues or issues behind relationship problems before understanding ways to solve common relationship problems:


One of the fastest ways to create unhappiness and instability in a relationship is through disappointment. And very few things create disappointment as quickly as unmet expectations.

But, there are typically two common relationship problems with expectations in a relationship:

  • unrealistic expectations
  • unclear expectations

Oftentimes, couples struggle to meet each other’s expectations because they are simply unrealistic. It’s important to understand that our expectations often derive from other people, past experiences, beliefs, or internal values. But, that doesn’t change the fact that they are sometimes very toxic to our relationship. 

Alternatively, couples sometimes struggle to meet each other’s expectations because they simply don’t know what the other one expects from them or in their relationship. 

Now, maybe you are pretty certain about what YOU expect from your relationship and your partner, but that doesn’t mean that your partner can read your mind, which means they most likely have no clue what you expect. 

If you want to avoid unhappiness in your relationship, it is your responsibility to be very clear about your expectations and share those with your partner. 

If in doing so, you come to realize that some of your expectations might be slightly unrealistic, or even impossible to meet, you might want to review where that expectation comes from and what is more important – being unrealistic or being happy.

2. Communication

One of the most common relationship issues that couples face is communication. There is often either a complete absence of communication, constant miscommunication , or very poor communication. The end result is almost always frustration, unhappiness, and unmet needs. Many times the root cause of the communication issue is in “interpretation.” 

You misunderstand what the other person is saying and spend too much time and energy arguing a point your partner never intended. It’s a futile exercise. It is, therefore, essential to take the time to fully comprehend what your partner is trying to say. 

Also, if you’re the one talking, it’s important to make sure you’re communicating clearly and exactly what you mean so that your partner can understand. You need to recognize the fact that their perspective is not the same as yours.

Their experiences, points of view, and even baggage are not the same as yours. But good communication demands empathy. It’s to see the world through their eyes as much as possible and then treat them the way that you would treat yourself.

3. Unsupportive partner

Another common relationship problem occurs when a partner is unsupportive of goals and interests. When you are in a relationship, you want to treat your partner like they can be whatever they want to be. 

You want them to follow their dreams and will do anything you can to help support them along the way – and you expect the same in return!

4. Finances

One of the most common relationship problems couples will admit to are troubles in the relationship with finances. Not having enough money or not knowing how to split your financial burdens , as well as loss of jobs, a lack of money, poor money management, debt, and overspending are all common issues that can put pressure on relationships.

Discuss your finances when your relationship gets serious, and be honest about any debt you may have. Rely on one another if money gets tight and never stop communicating.

5. Cheating and other forms of infidelity

Cheating is a huge issue in relationships today. The internet has made all forms of cheating as simple as downloading an app. Sexting, emotional affairs , porn, sneaking around, and physical relationships with someone other than your romantic partner are all huge issues that damage relationships, sometimes irreversibly.

Infidelity is a hard subject to broach with your romantic partner, but it is in the best interest of your relationship to let your partner know when you are emotionally or physically checking out. You owe it to yourself to give your relationship another shot. Get your issues out in the open either with date nights or regular honest communication or seek couples counseling to help mend your relationship.

6. Not enough time spent alone

Some of the common relationship problems involve not spending enough time alone together. This is especially true for couples who have children. Between work and family obligations, you sometimes feel more like roommates than romantic partners . This is because you have stopped ‘dating’ one another. Such circumstances can make a romantic partner feel unappreciated, unattractive, and emotionally frustrated.

Call up your favorite babysitter and establish a child-free date night once a week with your spouse. This allows you to reconnect as a couple instead of as parents. Go on dates and treat one another like you’re still trying to woo each other.

Boredom is a common problem in long-term relationships. Being with the same person for many years can seem to take the ‘spark’ out of your union. You may also feel you have outgrown one another. Don’t despair or give up. 

You can reverse this feeling by looking for new ways to connect with your partner. Look for new things to do together such as travel or take up a hobby. This will help you bond over something fun and exciting.

8. Sexual intimacy

As the years go by and your relationship becomes seasoned, there will likely be a point where your sexual flame will dim. There could be a multitude of reasons as to why you or your partners in sex has dwindled, but no matter what the cause is, this decrease in sexual intimacy tends to cause common relationship issues.

In order to avoid such problems, there are a few important things that you should consider:

  • As you spend more and more time with someone, the act of sex becomes predictable. In most cases, the more predictable the sex, the less fun it is to have. Think about your favorite movie for a second. When you first saw it, you were enthralled. You watched it over and over again, enjoying every viewing. 

But after 10, 20, or 30 times seeing the same plotline play out, you only pulled it out for special occasions. Your sex life is just like that favorite movie. So, spice things up . Your favorite movie’s plotline is set in stone. The plotline between you and your spouse’s sexual experience can be changed any time you want it to. 

Get creative, get ambitious, and understand that it’s not the other person’s fault. It’s just that, although you enjoy having sex, it’s just the same thing over and over again. Try something new today.

  • Your expectations for your sex life may be a bit unrealistic. As your sex life loses steam, you likely are replacing more love and appreciation in the void left behind. Instead of harping on the lack of sex you’re having , take a moment and be grateful for the person you get to lay your head down next to.

9. The anger habit

The anger habit soon gets ingrained, and before you know it, you’re spending a large chunk of time fighting with your partner.

Think about it – if someone is angry and shouting at you, how likely are you to listen carefully and look for a solution?

Most people, understandably, react to anger with either anger or fear.

10. Not consulting each other

Let your partner know that they are a priority to you by consulting them before you make decisions.

Big decisions like whether to take a new job or move to a new city are obvious life choices that should be discussed with your spouse.

But don’t forget to include them in smaller decisions such as who picks up the kids tonight, making plans with friends for the weekend, or whether you eat dinner together or grab something for yourself.

10 signs of relationship problems that hurt the most

All relationships have their highs and lows, even the happiest of ones. There is no escaping them, and if not dealt with accurately, they can lead your relationships towards absolute chaos and destruction.

Here are 10 signs your relationship is having problems:

  • You both spend less amount of time together
  • There is minimal communication
  • You both are critical of each other
  • One partner indicates that the relationship is not going well
  • Differences of opinions are criticized than worked upon
  • You both are always defensive in front of each other
  • You both have stopped discussing long-term plans
  • You set other priorities over your relationship
  • Maintaining the relationship feels like a duty
  • You are happier when they are not around and vice versa

30 relationship problems and solutions

Now, how to solve relationship issues?  

Common relationship issues are not hard to solve; all you need for that is a strong will to work on your relationship issues, and love , of course.

Here are some common marriage problems and the solutions for how to resolve your relationship problems that you should know about.

When wondering about how to solve relationship problems, it can be useful to read first and then bring the conversation up about how to handle relationship problems with your partner.

1. Lack of trust

Lack of trust is a major problem in any relationship.

Lack of trust isn’t always related to infidelity – it can rear its head any time. If you find yourself constantly doubting your partner or wondering if they’re truthful with you, it’s time to tackle your trust issues together .

Relationship problems will keep mushrooming when there is a dearth of trust in a relationship.

Solution : 

Be consistent and trustworthy. Each of you should make an effort to be where you say you’re going to be and do what you say you’re going to do. This is one of the best solutions to marriage problems.

Call when you say you’ll call. Never lie to your partner. Showing empathy and respect for your partner’s feelings also helps to build trust.

2. Overwhelm

When life gets too much, you get overwhelmed. Maybe you’re in the midst of going after a promotion at work. Maybe they’re dealing with a troubled teenage son or daughter.

Whatever the reason, your relationship soon takes a back seat. Then relationship problems keep building up.


Talk to each other about what’s happening, and about what kind of support each of you needs .   Lean on each other instead of getting so caught up in other issues that they drive a wedge between you. 

Figure out together a time that will be just for you two.

3. Poor communication

Poor communication leads to misunderstandings, fights, and frustration. It also leads to one or both of you feeling unheard and invalidated and can quickly build into resentment and other common relationship issues.

Communication is a skill like any other, and learning it can make all the difference to your relationship. Learn how to listen without judging or interrupting, and how to get your point across without attacking.

Communicate with each other as friends, not combatants. Figure out what your communication style is and how compatible it is with your partner.

Work your way towards the solution by understanding what communication style would work better for both of you.

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4. Not prioritizing each other

It’s so easy to take your partner for granted , especially when you have a lot of things going on. Before you know it, the only time you get together is over a hurried family dinner or while trying to get out the door in the morning.

Make time for each other every single day. No matter how busy you are, carve out fifteen or thirty minutes; that’s just for the two of you to talk and spend quiet time together.

Text regularly throughout the day. Add in a weekly date night to make sure your partner knows they’re your priority.

5. Money stress

Money is a leading cause of stress in relationships .  Maybe there’s not enough. Or maybe there is enough, but they spend it while you prefer to save. Perhaps you feel they’re too tight with the purse strings.

Whatever the issue, money can quickly cause problems.

One of the tips to fix old relationship issues regarding finances is to put those good communication skills to work here and have a serious talk about money. Figure out a budget that you both agree on and stick to it.

Work out a financial plan for your future and take steps towards it together. Make crystal clear agreements and keep them.

6. Changing priorities

We all change as we move through life. Maybe you were both ambitious once, but now you’d rather live a quiet life. Perhaps your partner is no longer enthusiastic about your shared dream of buying a house by the sea.

Changing priorities can cause a lot of conflicts.

Look for what you both still have in common while allowing your partner to change and grow. Embrace who they are now instead of pining for the past.

If you have different priorities about major lifestyle issues, l ook for common ground, and compromise that you are both happy with.

7. Chore wars

It’s easy to lose your temper when it feels like you’re the one taking out the trash for the hundredth time in a row, or you get home from overtime to find the house is a tip. Chore wars are a leading cause of conflict in relationships .

Agree together on who is responsible for what, and stick to it—factor in a little flexibility for when one of you is much busier than usual.

If you both have different ideas of what constitutes a neat home, it might be time for a little compromise.

8. Different intimacy needs

Problems with your sex life are stressful and can have a big impact on your relationship. If one of you isn’t happy or you’re finding you have widely different intimacy needs, it’s time for a serious talk.

Carve out time for intimacy. Arrange for someone else to take the kids once a week, or make the most of any time you have alone at home together.

Sex keeps you feeling physically and emotionally close, so make sure you are both happy with your sex life .

9. Lack of appreciation

It doesn’t come as a surprise to you that bad bosses compel good workers to quit ? Up to 75% quit their job not because of the position itself, but because of their boss who never expressed appreciation.

Being taken for granted is one of the fundamental reasons for breakups.

Appreciation is what keeps us motivated and committed, both in our work and our relationships.

Remembering to compliment or notice the things our partner shows, we are grateful and increases the overall satisfaction with the relationship. Saying thank you goes a long way.

10. Children

Having kids is a blessing, but it requires a lot of dedication and effort. This can cause a strain on the relationship when partners disagree on the way they want to raise children, address problems that occur, and spend family time.


Talk to your partner about why they think something should be done differently and share your reasoning. Often, we are repeating or trying to avoid patterns we were raised by.

Get together and spend some time understanding where the need to do things a certain way is coming from. When you understand, you can change and create a new way to parent that works for your family.

11. Overinvolvement

When we find the person, we love we want to share everything with them and to have them do the same. However, this can lead to feelings of losing one’s individuality, feeling of freedom, and a sense of accomplishment.

What does it take for you to be your own person while being their partner? Think of areas that you want to keep to yourself that give you a feeling of achievement and freedom.

It might be a hobby or doing sports. Talk to your partner so they don’t feel rejected by this new change and introduce it gradually.

12. Infidelity

What each of us defines as infidelity and where we draw the line can differ. Infidelity means various things to different people. Infidelity can encompass, besides the sexual act, flirting, sexting or kissing.

When infidelity has occurred, trust is broken, and a person can feel betrayed. This can snowball into many other issues and problems.

Talking about what infidelity is for you and your partner is important. They may hurt you inadvertently because, for example, they don’t find flirting a problem.

When something has already occurred, there is a choice to be made. A couple can try to regain trust and rebuild or end the relationship . In case the first one is chosen, seeking professional help can be a wise decision.

Figuring out marriage challenges and solutions and learning how to work out relationship problems is much more productive with counseling .

13. Significant differences

When there is a critical difference in core values, the way partners approach life, and challenges, issues are bound to happen.

For example, it might be that they are more spontaneous or hedonistic, while you plan more and save rather than spend. Nonetheless, if your views and expectations from life differ considerably, you are bound to argue.

When there are core dissimilarities between you, you might wonder if you are suited for each other. The answer is – it depends. What kind of change would you both need to undertake for this relationship to survive?

Are you willing you make that change, and how much will it “cost” you? If you decide you can and want to change, by all means, give it a go. This is the only way you will know if the change is enough for this relationship to succeed.

14. Jealousy

You might be in a happy relationship for a long time before noticing the first signs of jealousy. They might act fine at first but slowly change.

They start asking for your whereabouts, distrusting you, checking up on you, distancing or stifling you, and demonstrating concern about your affection towards them.

Often this behavior is a reflection of previous experiences that were triggered by something that happened in the current relationship.

Both partners need to make an effort. If your partner is jealous, try to be transparent, predictable, honest, and share. Give them time to get to know you and trust you.

However, for this to be solved, they need to make a separate effort to change their anticipations and work out their concerns. There is a difference between privacy and secrecy, and this line needs to be redrawn.

15. Unrealistic expectations

If you are human, you have unrealistic expectations ; no one is free of them. Nowadays, we might expect our partner to play many major roles: the best friend, trusted companion, business partner, lover, etc.

We might expect our partner to know what we want without saying it, advocate fairness at all times, or strive to change the other into what you desire them to be.

This can lead to misunderstandings, repeated quarrels, and misfortune.

If you want to solve a problem, you need to comprehend it first. Ask yourself – what is it that you feel entitled to? If you could wave a magic wand and change things, how would the new, pink reality look like?

What are you doing at the moment that you feel could get you there?

When you grasp what you are expecting to happen, but reality and your partner are depriving you of it, you can start to look for ways to ask differently or ask for different wishes.

16. Growing apart

So many things on the task list, and there is only one of you. How long ago did you stop including things to do with your partner on that list? Drifting apart happens bit by bit, and we don’t notice.

You might wake up one morning and realize you can’t remember the last time you had sex, a date, or a conversation that is more than organizational.

A relationship is like a flower, and it can not blossom without nourishment. When you notice the signs, it is time to act. It will take time to cross the distance that has been created, but it is possible.

Prioritize your time together, bring back old habits and activities you did together, laugh, and take time to reconnect.

17. Lack of support

When life hits us hard, we cope with it the best we know. However, often our coping skills are not enough, and we need support. Lack of support from a partner can lead to feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and feeling overwhelmed.

Long-lasting lack of support also affects the way we value the relationship we are in, and satisfaction drops significantly.

If you don’t ask, the answer is certainly “no.” Talking about what we need and what we can provide can clear the air of unrealistic expectations.

Unspoken and unfulfilled needs lead to negative beliefs about the relationship.

Understanding what our partner can provide helps adjust what we come to them for and look for alternative sources of support while our partner works on becoming one of the main pillars of encouragement and comfort again.

18. Addiction

Substance addiction can put a serious strain on a relationship.

Partner’s addiction can cause a significant effect on the family budget, cause many arguments, increase trust issues, cause ignorance and neglect of children and other family members, and impair overall relationship happiness.

Couple problems can be worked out with couples therapy . Counseling can be enormously helpful as it helps both partners deal with the issues arising simultaneously.

Understanding what triggers prompt addiction and building new habits as a couple promotes healthier ways of addressing problems. Individual therapy is recommended as well for both partners.

It can help understand the roots and patterns leading to addiction, and provide support to the non-addicted partner.

19. Moving at different speeds

Do you find yourself in a current relationship uncomfortable with the speed the relationship is progressing?

You might find your new partner moving more rapidly, wanting to spend more time together, constantly calling or texting, wanting to go away together, or you meeting their family?

Alternatively, you could be in a relationship that is not progressing the way you hoped it would, and the milestones you desired are not being reached.

When you and your partner need different speeds and intensities of intimacy and commitment , you may argue.

This can lead to becoming terribly upset over seemingly little things, pulling away, and questioning whether this person is for you.

Don’t sweep things under the rug rather address what is happening. Avoiding problems is not the best relationship solution.

What kind of reassurance or demonstration of love would bring you back on the same level? How are your needs different, and what can each of you do to find the middle ground?

20. Lack of responsibility

When one of the partners avoids taking responsibility, it can cause severe damage to the partnership. Money struggles, child neglect, fighting over chores, or playing the blame game can happen daily.

One of the most detrimental factors to the relationship is a significantly uneven distribution of responsibility amongst partners.

When addressing this issue, the first thing to do is to stop the blaming game. If change is to occur, you need to look forward, not backward. If the change is to be long-lasting, it needs to happen gradually.

Overwhelming a partner to make up for all this time of dodging responsibilities will just prove they were right to steer clear of them.

Give forgiving a shot as it has been linked to relationship success . Also, agree on the pace of change and the first things to share accountability for.

21. Controlling behavior

Controlling behavior happens when one of the partners expects the other to behave in certain ways, even at the expense of the wellbeing of the other partner.

This kind of toxic behavior deprives the other partner’s freedom, confidence, and a sense of self-worth.

Controlling behavior is a learned pattern of behavior from primary family or previous relationships.

At one point in life, this was beneficial for the controlling partner, and they need to learn to express affection differently. Speak up, set boundaries and adhere to them, and, if possible, try couples counseling.

22. Boredom

All relationships undergo periods of fun and boredom. However, when the feeling of monotony and apathy color, most of the days, it is time to react.

Allowing to fall into a daily routine and go with the flow can lead to decreased libido and overall satisfaction with the relationship .

Think back to the honeymoon phase and recall the things you did as a newly formed couple. What is available from that list today, and what do you still feel you could enjoy?

Make a conscious decision to add spontaneity into the relationship to start the upward spiral to a more eventful relationship.

23. Outside Influences

All couples are exposed to outside influences and opinions on how things should be done.

Some influences are benign, like grandparents’ occasional babysitting, while others can be detrimental, like disapproval of one spouse by the family or friends of the other.

Your relationship comes first, and everyone else’s opinion is secondary. Show each other support and that you are a united front against the world.

To resist the influence, you can limit the amount of time spent with or personal information you share with the family members or friends trying to impact you.

Marital problems and solutions may appear quite similar on the outside, but no one knows better than you what you need to make it work.

24. Ineffective argument

Arguments are a part of every relationship. However, the way fights are led, and what is their outcome can have a big impact on the relationship.

Disagreement can be helpful or destructive, depending on what you do with them. Having the same fight over and over, losing your temper, or saying things you regret later is bound to make you feel it’s not worth it.

After an argument, you should feel you have made progress in understanding where your partner is coming from.

A good fight is one after which you have agreed on what can be the first step both will take to resolve the issue. Start by listening to hear the other side, not only by waiting for your turn.

Research together ways to fight better and only ever focus on the next step needed to take.

25. Keeping a scoreboard

When you keep blaming and recalling mistakes each of you has made, you are keeping a virtual scoreboard of each other’s faults. If being right is more important than being with the other person, the relationship is doomed.

This leads up to a build-up of guilt, anger, and bitterness and doesn’t solve any problems.

Deal with each problem separately unless they are legitimately connected. Focus on the problem at hand and speak your mind. Don’t let it build up and mention it months later.

Decide if you want to save the relationship and if you do, learn to accept the past as is and start focusing on where to go from here.

26. Life gets in the way

In a relationship, it’s usually the priority to nurture and develop the connection. When life is a persistent inconvenience, it means one or both of you were not necessarily ready to get involved, and that can happen. 

Unexpected encounters with another person occur all the time. But when they do, it’s essential to allow it to flourish- placing it first over the chaos.

When the two of you notice you put the union on the back burner, it’s time to make a conscious effort with reprioritizing the other person regardless of your day-to-day situation to battle the new relationship struggles.

27. Trust is critical from the very beginning

Every relationship has problems, but when you first connect, you don’t want to go in with the idea that you can’t trust the other person. If this is baggage from a past relationship , that’s unfair and self-defeating for any new partnership. 

If your new partner made a promise and then lied to get out of it, that will create mistrust early on. That’s tough to get back. In an effort to do so, one piece of advice on relationship problems is that there needs to be much transparency and commitment in keeping your word moving forward.

28. You can readjust goals at a moment’s notice

Perhaps in the first few weeks of dating, your life goals appear to be similar, but a profound life circumstance changes your perspective on where you see yourself in the future or maybe your mate’s.

The change is not in keeping with what the two of you discussed. In this situation, you can find a way to get your partner to see things from your point of view, or the partnership won’t be possible.

These are the kinds of issues in relationships that are difficult to overcome. Often differences in life goals are deal-breakers.

29. A kind word here or there

New relationship problems can include a lack of manners in numerous ways. Pleasantries like telling someone they look nice or saying thank you, or expressing how much you appreciate something they’ve done wane after a few dates. 

It shouldn’t—unfortunately, comfortability and taking a partner for granted set in quickly. If you notice this early on, say something, but also make sure to lead by example. Be the first to tell your mate these things often.

30. Notice continued bad behaviors with a new relationship

You’ll know you have early relationship problems if your mate is continuously on their phone when you’re together. That’s incredibly rude behavior for anyone when they’re with other people for any reason, let alone being on a date or in the early stages of a partnership . 

The focus should be on time spent with each other since free time is precious with the world’s hectic pace. When this happens at the start of a partnership, it won’t get better with time. It needs to be addressed and stopped to strengthen your union ultimately.

Relationships are marathons

Most relationship problems and ways of fixing relationship problems would be something that you must have heard about or experienced; still, when it comes to utilizing this common knowledge, not everyone is thorough with the implementation.

It’s not difficult to answer “how to solve marriage problems,” and there is plenty of advice on relationship issues and solutions.

However, when it comes to solving marriage issues and relationship issues advice, everything boils down to effort and implementation.

These common problems in relationships are not completely avoidable, and every couple runs into some of them at one point.

The good news is, working on relationship problems can produce a considerable difference and get your relationship back on track, free from all relationship difficulties.

Be creative, don’t give up on each other, and you will reach the solution.

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Sylvia Smith loves to share insights on how couples can revitalize their love lives in and out of the bedroom. As a writer at Marriage.com, she is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt this principle Read more in their lives too. Sylvia believes that every couple can transform their relationship into a happier, healthier one by taking purposeful and wholehearted action. Read less

Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?

If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.

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