All couples argue for several reasons. In fact, research from ScienceDaily tells us that even happy and fulfilled couples have their moments. Interestingly, happy couples tend to argue about the exact same things as unhappy couples – topics like marriage, children, money, in-laws, and their intimacy.
Every single amorous relationship will experience turbulence at some point. To some extent, disagreement can be healthy, and challenge couples to grow together.
However, when arguments become frequent, this is a sign that something needs to change on one or both sides of the relationship.
For couples, understanding the main sources of conflict can be useful in helping them mitigate issues. According to the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors (AIPC), sources of marital conflict come from unmet needs, wants, and desires. Issues related to communication, money, and trust may soon follow.
Below are the sources of common relationship problems, as well as how to prevent them from escalating.
We all know how important communication is in all areas of life. Without proper communication, people are unable to convey their needs or share their points of view in a sensible manner. That’s why communication skills are essential for relationship success.
If communication is the basis of any good relationship, that means poor communication is capable of ruining relationships on its own. It’s interesting how most people vouch for open communication between partners, but when push comes to shove, they don’t apply that practice to their own marriage.
That doesn’t mean that communicating with a partner is an easy task. Just like empathy, communication is a skill that can – and should – be mastered. Besides, certain topics can be uncomfortable to talk about. The more couples get used to dutifully practising proper communication, the easier it’ll be for them to power through difficult topics.
As far as communication goes, it’s better to feel uncomfortable than to say nothing at all. So talk to each other, and be candid about it.
As health writer and editor Sanjana Gupta writes for VeryWellMind, “secrecy tends to erode trust, so when your partner is able to be transparent and allows space to explore topics that might trigger your mistrust, you can begin to feel more at ease and begin to let your guard down.”
Poor communication can range from giving someone the silent treatment to speaking in accusatory tones. Non-verbal communication also plays a role. Sometimes, our feelings don’t match our words – and it’s often our facial expressions and gestures that matter most. If you say something when you mean something else, this will only weaken a bond.
“If people in a relationship can master communication, you’ll be far less likely to experience other common relationship problems,” Nationally Board Certified Counsellor Meaghan Rice writes for Talkspace.
Relationships and money go together. This is a hard pill to swallow, as most of us want a relationship based on love and passion alone. Unfortunately, that’s not how relationships work.
Of course, a lack of communication is part of the equation. Because money is such a sensitive discussion topic, many couples avoid talking about their financial situations early in their relationship. This may lead to mistrust and financial trouble down the road, because one or both parties were dishonest about their spending habits in the beginning.
Therefore, if you’re committed to a relationship, be honest about your finances from the start. This simple behaviour is enough to prevent serious financial issues and arguments as a couple.
If a partner has been a victim of trauma, it’s not their fault. Still, it can be challenging to try to figure someone out when not even they know what’s going on.
Traumatic events come in many forms. When we talk about trauma, we’re talking about past troubling situations such as discrimination, homelessness, neglect, sexual and/or emotional abuse, and loss.
“When someone is considered traumatised by an experience, it means that the intense emotions from the event are essentially stuck in their nervous system,” says Christy O’Shoney, psychotherapist at myTherapyNYC.
These emotions include, but aren’t limited to:
- Anxiety and/or panic attacks
- Refusing to engage in conversation
According to O’Shoney, “because trauma can interrupt emotional processing, those who have experienced trauma often struggle to articulate what is really going on inside of them.” For this reason, it’s necessary to develop compassion for your partner and educate yourself on trauma.
Perhaps, your partner may not be aware that trauma may result in such behaviours. In this case, having both of you seek information about their specific trauma can be enlightening.
Understandably, it can be exhausting for any couple to power through traumatic events – particularly when both members have dealt with some kind of trauma. In this case, seeking mental help is the smarter solution.
A Lack of Trust
If you crumple a piece of paper, you may undo it. But the wrinkles will remain.
This is why trust is such a vital component in healthy relationships: once it disintegrates, it’s hard to earn it back. Trusting your partner brings the piece of mind that the person you’re with will always be on your side. That they mean what they say. And that they’re able to keep promises.
On the flip side, “when your partner’s actions are not aligned with their words, you will begin to learn that they are not trustworthy. Repeated violations or consistent hurtful behaviours erode trust,” says Doctor of Psychology Sabrina Romanoff.
Besides, a lack of trust rarely walks alone. Along with it may come doubt, insecurity, jealousy, and suspicion. All of which are telltale signs of when a relationship is about to crumble.
If Both Want It, Both Can Make It Work
In the words of Amy Rauer, associate professor of child and family studies,”if couples feel that they can work together to resolve their issues, it may give them the confidence to move on to tackling the more difficult issues.” A relationship means commitment, which means teamwork at every step.
Just because there’s a problem, that doesn’t necessarily mean a relationship is in trouble. Values, opinions, and beliefs will clash at one point, even if you’re both on cloud nine.
It’s up to the couple to resolve the issue through open and honest communication, or allow it to escalate to a point of no return. As long as the two members are willing to make things work, any common relationship problem can be resolved.
With that in mind, take time to assess whether you’re taking your partner’s wants and needs into consideration, and vice-versa. Talk openly and often, even if it’s an uncomfortable topic to discuss.
The sooner couples choose to deal with their relationship problems together, the less room they’ll make for suspicions and accusations in the long term.