It’s normal to experience bad patches in a relationship but if these feel never-ending or become a significant issue, it’s worth addressing fully. Our page covers the signs that your relationship is experiencing problems, common causes, and ways of working on your relationship.
Many factors influence the state of your relationship, and external factors could be at play.
Below is a list of common signs that you may be experiencing a problem in your relationship.
- Lost intimacy
- Can’t trust each other
- Considering breaking up
- You feel there are no ‘fun’ moments
- You fight constantly with no resolution
- Repeated unwillingness to compromise
- Barely any time is spent together or apart
- Someone has or is considering being unfaithful
- One or both of you violates personal boundaries
- Not meeting emotional needs, such as feeling appreciated
- Withholding or limiting communication, affection, or other forms of intimacy
These are just some signs that you may need to refocus on your relationship. Though, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should break up or remove the other from your life. If you are frequently seeking others’ advice on the state of your relationship, you may also benefit from speaking to a professional.
A problem in your relationship rarely goes away on its own. Working on the issue together could lead to a resolution as long as all parties are willing to try.
First, you’ll need to identify what is causing the problem. We recommend discussing this together honestly and openly. Keep reading to learn some of the common causes of a relationship problem.
Many external factors or changes could lead to friction in your relationship. Has this issue existed for most of your relationship? Or is it a new problem linked to a change in one or both of your lives?
Common causes of relationship problems include
- Financial hardship
- Personality differences
- Attachment problems
- Mental health difficulties
- Disagreement on expectations
- Differences in parenting approach
- Previous trauma impacting the relationship
- A change in your situation, e.g. moving home
- A third-party influence, such as a friend or family member
- Changing life plans or new responsibilities, such as having children
Once you have identified the cause of your issues, you can start a plan to address them. You’ll need to understand how the issue affects your relationship and how you both feel about it. We explain some of these issues in detail further down.
We don’t always discuss what we want from our partners, but that doesn’t stop us from having expectations. Some may seem like obvious mutual decisions, such as always showing respect or simply not wearing shoes in the house. Though others may be larger, such as how much money you spend in a month.
In a heterosexual relationship (opposite genders), you may also have gendered expectations. For example, is the man expected to know how to fix things and to make more money? Is the woman expected to cook dinner every day, clean the house, and be the sole host for guests? If these are roles you are both happy with, this is no problem, but this should be discussed and decided on together. Agree on what your role in the relationship includes.
Many factors can influence your expectations in a relationship. From previous experiences and the input of others to internal values, beliefs, and culture. If you don’t know what the other person expects, living up to it is hard. One of you may also have an unrealistic expectation for the other to meet.
By sharing what you each expect, you can have a productive conversation about how you’ll behave in the future. You can work on the knowledge you each have rather than what you assume they know. It also allows you to set healthy boundaries, which are important in a relationship.
Does your partner’s personality differ notably from yours? If one of you is extroverted while the other is introverted, for example, you may present differently in public. One of you may wish to frequently go out and socialise with others, while the other may prefer being home. Or maybe one of you is considerably tidier than the other. It’s important to discuss what you both consider normal and healthy, so you can work around each other.
Neither of you should feel forced to be someone you aren’t. But, the other person may not intentionally dismiss the others’ experience of the world. One solution could be that the extroverted person goes out with friends a couple of times a week and once with the introverted person. Or you set a list of chores you both agree on and are comfortable doing.
A significant change in your relationship
Having a baby, moving in together, or changing to a long-distance relationship can be significant relationship changes. The dynamic of your daily life and how you work together evolves, and you should allow for an adjustment period. Each of these can cause stress and may influence your relationship.
Before making a significant change, we recommend you sit down and discuss how you plan for it to work. What steps you will take, and how to resolve potential challenges. You should also prepare for the possibility things will not go according to plan. Make time for each other and listen to what the other is struggling with.
Mental health difficulties
If one or both of you are dealing with mental health problems, it can affect your behaviour. For example, if one of you has low self-esteem, you may feel insecure about sharing attention and affection. Other people and pets may feel like opponents in a competition, leading to jealousy and resentment. It can cause that person to lash out or monitor messages, which isn’t healthy.
Depression, stress, and anxiety can cause you to act unpredictably, and your partner may not know how to help. If one of you is experiencing mental health issues, it’s important to seek professional advice. Not just for your partner’s sake but your own.
A therapist can show you how to check in with your needs and recognise when you need to manage your feelings. You can have the space to process your thoughts and experiences, taking practical steps to address them.
Attachment problems in relationships
Your upbringing can influence how you behave in a relationship. A warm, nurturing environment often leads to a secure attachment style. But without it, you may develop an insecure attachment style. Read our blog to learn more: How early relationships with parents/guardians affect adult relationships.
How to fix relationship problems
Fixing relationship problems takes effort from all sides. It can take time to work on communicating better. Though, a therapist may be able to help you focus your efforts and identify possible problem areas. Relationship therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for couples, or CBCT, are highly effective at tackling relationship problems.
During relationship therapy, also known as couples therapy, your therapist recommends various techniques and exercises to rebuild your relationship.
Common approaches include
- Goal setting
- Narrative therapy
- Conflict resolution
- Reflective listening
- Shared creative activities
- Solution-focused therapy
- Focusing on intimacy needs
- Emotionally focused therapy (EFT)
- Understanding your partner’s love language
- Practice expressing gratitude and appreciation
Your therapist will work with you to identify critical areas of your relationship and establish a plan to resolve them. Alongside relationship therapy, you may also benefit from CBCT.
During CBCT, we look at how your thoughts, feelings and behaviours affect your relationship and set goals to change these. Couples cognitive behavioural therapy works to reform communication, improve intimacy, and bring more understanding to your relationship. CBT can also lead to less anxiety, more satisfactory sleep, and a better mood.
If one of you has mental health difficulties, individual therapy can improve your state of mind and, consequently, your relationship. For example, EMDR therapy works to relieve the stress associated with traumatic memories. It is also helpful for those with depression or a panic disorder.
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Private therapy for relationship problems
At Kove, we offer therapy for relationship problems to get your relationship back on track. You can access our services individually or as a couple to address existing issues that are affecting each of you. Book an initial consultation to discuss your immediate concerns and learn how we could help you.
Experience effective EMDR therapy at Kove in London. Our expert therapists provide a safe space for healing trauma and mental health issues. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.
Looking for effective therapy for anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues? Kove in London offers evidence-based CBT therapy to help you improve your well-being. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced therapists.