Overcoming Relationship Challenges
The close relationships that form the basis of family and childrearing are perhaps the most complicated of all human interactions. Relationships between two adult partners, whether they are two men, two women, or a women and a man, have the potential to produce loving and caring feelings that overshadow all other concerns. However, romantic relationships can also be highly stressful. According to divorcerate.org, divorce rate in Australia stands at around 3 divorces per 1000 marriages. Although people who divorce continue to remarry, they do not seem to get much better at overcoming relationship challenges.
Romantic relationships are complex
Although you might think that interacting with social groups, for instance with co-workers, is the most complicated of human interactions, it is in fact romantic relationships that are particularly fraught with difficulties. Continuous one-on-one contact and the presence of outside romantic opportunities are two common relationship challenges faced by couples.
In our previous blog article, we talked about the neuroscience of relationships – what makes two people like each other, not just in the short term, but also over the long haul. And you can use this knowledge to help you make your relationship happy and harmonious. Successful romantic relationships are not easy; they take a lot of effort. But the effort is worth it, considering the substantial benefits marriage has to offer. Married people are healthier and happier, with better mental and physical health than those who are unmarried. Also, marriage has been found in some cases to lead to a longer lifespan.
How to weather relationship challenges?
Let’s consider the top 5 things to do that can help your marriage last.
- Try to keep up your appearance. Although the flush of intense passion that you experienced when you were first dating may now be gone, this doesn’t mean that your partner doesn’t want to find you attractive. Try to look your best. Doing so will not just make you feel good about yourself, but will also keep your partner interested in you. Physical attractiveness is one of the strongest predictors of liking, and this remains true regardless of age or the length of the relationship.
- Expect some squabbles. All relationships have some conflicts – to imagine that yours does not is to be completely naïve. But, squabbles are not always bad, and in fact they add spice to your life and may even help strengthen a relationship. Being able to successfully talk out the minor conflicts that are part of everyday life can help partners improve their communication and develop new ways of dealing with the many problems that will arise in a relationship. However, the fact that relationships will have at least some conflict does not mean that it is okay to fight always. Prolonged conflict within a marriage is likely to lead to a divorce. When squabbles turn into full-blown rows, it is time to calm down and think about the bigger picture. Is the conflict really worth it? Is there absolutely no way that a compromise cannot be made?
- Don’t be overly negative. Negative thoughts and feelings about your partner have a harmful influence on relationships. Nobody wants to hear a stream of negative comments from one’s partner, regardless of whether they are directed at the other person or at the world in general. Partners must be careful to never let negative thinking and negative behaviors become a part of the relationship. Not being negative often involves thinking carefully about the possibility that you may be over-reacting or being unfair. The partners in loving relationships, as do most people in their everyday lives, often overestimate their own importance. We often judge our own behaviors as better than our partner’s behaviors and see our partner’s negative behaviors as much worse than our own are. To avoid this, attempt to give your partner a break – remember that neither of you is perfect.
- Be faithful. Close relationships are most likely to crash when one or both of the partners are unfaithful. Of course, sexual betrayals create a major problem, but other types of infidelities also matter. Women are particularly concerned about the emotional infidelity of their partners, even if the behavior does not involve sex. If you flirt, your partner will probably be jealous; don’t do it. Focus on your partner and not on potential rivals; you’ll both be happier if you do.
- Have fun. As marriages continue, partners may find it harder and harder to stay happy. Caring for kids and for elderly parents is stressful. But partners simply have to find time for each other. Happy couples are happy because they laugh together and do things together. Engage in something that you enjoy doing together – make the time to do it. Couples are happier when they view the other person in a positive light instead of a negative one. Basic principles of human behaviour show that being nice to others leads them to be nice in return. Be generous to your partner when he or she least expects it. Often earnest and caring efforts can help to lay the foundation for a healthy and lasting relationship.
In summary, nobody said relationships are easy. Every day requires some compromise for both partners in a relationship. Perhaps you feel that you are making more sacrifices than your partner; it’s easier to think that way. But, if you really care about the relationship, give your better half the benefit of doubt. Partners who are able to remain similar in their values and beliefs are going to be more successful in overcoming relationship challenges.
Good luck with your romance!
Couples Counselling at the Centre
Practitioners at the Centre having experience with couples and relationship counselling:
- Leisa Thompson, Counselling Psychologist
- Joan Hamilton-Roberts, Counselling Psychologist and Psychodramatist
To get an appointment or to make enquiries, please call (03) 9820-5577.
- The Neuroscience of Relationships
- Bring Back the Love and Intimacy
- Couples Counselling
- Family Counselling
- Anxiety in Pregnancy
- How to Support Children through Divorce