couple holding hands at sunset discussing 4 common relationship issues

4 Common Relationship Issues that Drive Couples to Seek Couples Counseling

Common Relationship Issues

If you’re in a committed relationship and experiencing these common relationship issues with your spouse or partner, you’re not alone. It’s very common to have challenges in your relationship from time to time, as there is no perfect relationship. With that said, it’s important to learn how to work through these common relationship issues as they come up, so they don’t grow into bigger issues later. As a couples therapist and life coach, I’ve worked with hundreds of distressed couples who have come to me for support and guidance, asking, “does couples counseling really work?” The good news is that the answer is often a resounding “yes!”

In my experience, there are four common relationship issues that drive couples to seek marriage counseling or couples therapy:

1. Needing to Be Heard, Understood, and Respected

The first is a desire to have more clarity about your needs and how to get those needs met within your relationship. One of the most common complaints I hear from clients is “My spouse doesn’t listen to me!” We all want to be heard. And whether we are aware of it or not, we all have needs in a relationship. A sure sign that your needs aren’t being met in your relationship is feeling invalidated, which can lead to chronic resentment.

Many people grew up believing that it wasn’t okay to have needs. As a result, they become hyper-focused on their partner’s needs to the point that they neglect their own. This pattern doesn’t lead to lasting happiness and fulfillment. Therefore, getting clear about what you need in your relationship to feel loved and cared for is how you learn to meet both of your needs. 

Understanding how to work at a partnership, regarding simple daily tasks and expectations, addresses the functional needs of a relationship. We need our functional and emotional needs to be met for the relationship to be harmonious and resilient enough to survive challenging times.

2. Wanting to Be Closer To Your Partner

The second is wanting an emotional connection and greater intimacy with each other. Feeling out of sync and disconnected from your partner is what can break down the intimacy in a relationship. Strong emotional connection is necessary to experience true intimacy with your partner. Emotional intimacy allows your relationship to provide a sense of relaxation, expansion, and joy rather than a state of chronic stress, contraction, and fear. 

If you get out of sync with your partner, it’s essential that you learn how to get back into sync as quickly as possible so that any missteps can be repaired and the confidence in your connection (and a feeling of emotional safety) can be strengthened. Feeling emotionally safe with each other will naturally lead to greater intimacy.

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3. Working As a Team 

The third is how to work as a team to manage life stress that comes with aging parents, raising a family, or becoming empty nesters. We are stronger when we work together as a team, rather than in opposition to one another. Being in opposition will only create more stress and friction in an already difficult situation. And more stress can lead to anger between you and your partner.  

Major transitions in life (including a move, job change, or loss of loved ones) often lead to stress that will test our resilience. This is a time that not only requires strong communication skills but also an ability to empathize and to put others’ immediate needs before your own. As I mentioned earlier, relationship needs are important, however, managing certain life stressors particularly related to big life transitions will also require us to make certain sacrifices. And often we can’t anticipate or prepare for them until they’re happening. Working together as a united front will help you successfully navigate and manage these inevitable life events.

4. Improving The Communication in Your Relationship

Fourth is ineffective communication and feeling a lack of support and understanding from one another. When we can’t communicate well with our partner we often feel misunderstood, and there’s a lack of support that’s felt almost immediately. This can become not only exhausting over time, but we can also feel defeated inside.This leads to feeling stuck, stagnant, and stressed, which does not serve to foster a close connection with your partner. 

Communication breakdown is the primary culprit to feeling discontent or inadequate in your ability to be happy or feel satisfied in your relationship. Communication problems do not get better on their own, and if communication issues do not get resolved, the harmony in the relationship will suffer to the point where arguing and hostility is the norm.

Real Help For Your Relationship

I give my clients hope that these issues can be resolved, but I also let them know they must be willing to be responsible and accountable for their part in the challenge. It doesn’t have to take a long time to feel relief, but it does require both partners to prioritize their relationship and be open to learning and applying new relationship and life skills to improve their situation.

If you are experiencing challenges in your relationship, I encourage you to seek professional couples counseling or marriage counseling sooner than later. Most of these issues can be resolved fairly quickly when you invest in the right support and have a strong desire to improve your relationship and the life you share together.

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