Nothing is perfect and that goes for relationships too. Even in the best of intimate relationships, there are those subtle and not so subtle signs that harmony is being disrupted. Some disagreements and discussions make sense and are in fact healthy; his words against hers, her values in the face of his values, old traditions vs. new ideas and so on. However, after a few years of living with a partner, attempting and working on intimacy, you can often see a few patterns emerging. Those patterns might be complicated to detect when you are a part of the everyday “drama”.
For me, after a lot of experience of therapy and relationship-coaching, I find them fairly simple to detect. I have found solving problems in relationships takes commitment, education and a will on both sides. From there the solutions should be within reach.
Some of the patterns listed on the next page are signs of troubled relationships. In fact they are, in my opinion, a list of the seven most damaging troubles in intimate relationships and their solutions:
Inability to be emotionally open; the special aspect of intimate relationships in comparison to other social, workplace and family relationships is in being emotionally open. By exercising and engaging in daily honest, loving conversation with each other, couples learn to become more emotionally open.
Lack of physical closeness due to past experience often starves the relationship of the intimacy it needs. It is not easy to undo the pain, shame and hurt of the past but learning to be affectionate is the first step. This is essential if the relationship is to survive on an intimate basis.
Not paying attention while listening is one of the most common problems in a relationship. It may seem that active listening is taking place and the right cues are being given but is the meaning of the message getting across without the attempt to “solve” the problem or looking at the problem using individual autobiographies? Active listening is a gift which shows respect and love.
Many adults have difficulty articulating what they feel due to past experiences or early influences and instead communicate what their partner wants to hear or nothing at all. Learning about emotions and their logic is valuable to every intimate relationship. Taking a risk to expose your accurate feelings in your relationship is a wise investment. As the relationship grows and thrives, that risk of exposure becomes safe.
Anger, fear, shame and other negative emotions block the passage to tenderness, joy and love. Those painful emotions are not bad when they can be shared with a loving partner. In healthy relationships, the fear of exposing these emotions takes a back seat to the greater good of the relationship and can be used as a springboard to a healthier union.
Power struggles on sex, money, children, free time, relatives or friends are all signs of other issues surfacing in the relationship. Learn to decode these symptoms and see the meaning behind the issues.
Contempt or jealousy and its expressions are the “deadliest sins” of all troubled relationships. These usually take longer to solve. With professional help a couple can find the root of those feelings and restore trust. If not, there is a chance that these emotions will destroy the relationship.
It is always challenging to get your relationship out of trouble and usually many walls need to be torn down. The effort is, however, worth it as an intimate, loving and trustful relationship is the most important investment of time, energy and endeavour that a couple can make. Many who take that step further to marry are sometimes ill-prepared for what awaits them. They think they know but the high global divorce rate signifies that many do not and many end up alone.