You know you love your significant other, and you know that they love you. You also know the right way to argue (or at least practice the right way!) and how to exactly get the relationship you want. So why is that same argument still rearing its ugly head time and time again? You know the argument – maybe it’s how your partner forgot to stop by the grocery store again, or maybe they nag you about always being on your phone – the argument that just keeps coming, especially in times where one or both of you are stressed out.
Maybe it’s a small tiff or maybe it turns into a blow out fight, but either way, it’s not helping you support each other, be there for each other, and feel as happy as possible together. Get out of your relationship rut and fix those fights once and for all; here’s how to fix 7 of the most common relationship issues, so you never have to fight about it again.
1. One (or both) of you feeling misunderstood
While basically all relationship disagreements have to do with miscommunication (or lack of communication altogether), certain disagreements turn into longterm resentment when you or your partner are not feeling listened to or heard.
While it may sound silly, make an actual appointment with each other to talk through any problem. Attempting to voice hurt feelings before bed after a long, busy day or bringing up unrelated issues when your partner forgets to unload the dishwasher is a recipe for miscommunication and feeling neglected. Make an appointment during the week to sit down, put away your cell phones, and discuss how you feel. Always take turns talking, and if you can’t communicate without getting too heated, try going to a public place like a restaurant or park to have the conversation.
2. Dividing up household chores
If you live together, there’s likely been at least one fight over your partner “never” unloading the dishwasher or how they’ve taken out the trash for the 3rd week in a row while you keep forgetting. There might even have been the screaming match or two over the occasional empty toothpaste tube at 10pm, or the forgotten grocery store run to get milk for tomorrow’s cereal. Whether you both have jobs outside the home, or only one person has one (or multiple) jobs, it’s important to divide up household chores to avoid resentment.
Write down all household chores (everything from weekly grocery shopping to occasionally changing the air filter), and then fairly divide it up, taking preferences into account. If your partner loves to cook, let them make dinner 5 nights a week and agree that you’ll clean up. If you hate laundry but your partner doesn’t mind it, they can do the laundry for the week and you pick up the dry cleaners. Also be open to alternatives – if you both hate housework, see if you can make room in the budget for a cleaning service, or if you both hate cooking, look into meal delivery programs like Blue Apron. You can be creative when divvying up the chores, but just make sure that it feels fair to both of you.
3. Not making your relationship a top priority
Picture this – you’ve been together for what feels like forever, you’re extremely busy working on your career/kids/housework/all the above, and you’re lucky if you get to kiss your significant other goodnight before bed. Sound familiar? While it’s a blessing to have someone so constant in your life you know they will be there even when you don’t tend to your relationship, it doesn’t mean you can take a blessing for granted. Make sure neither of you are putting the other on the back burner, even when life gets busy.
Here’s the thing – it would be easy to say “go on a date night more often,” or “give them more compliments,” and while these strategies might totally help certain couples, other couples may be too tired/busy/stressed, and end up fighting through date night, or compliments might not be noticed and could leave you feeling uncared for when you’re trying.
So the trick for making sure you both feel that the relationship is a top priority is the good old reliable love languages – know your partner’s love language and plan concrete ways to act on their love language every day. For your own sake, wake up every morning and think of at least 3 things you’re grateful for in your partner – prioritizing your relationship won’t feel like trying when you genuinely appreciate it.
4. Money issues
No, money can’t buy love, but it might be able to ruin it… whether it’s disagreement over who pays for what, resentment over dependency, which financial goals to set, or very different spending habits, money can not only cause fights in a relationship, but can lead to breakups. Financial status is understandably a common anxiety for many people, and a difference in financial values can represent a deal-breaking difference in bigger morals for even strong couples.
Be upfront about your financial situation and spending habits from the start. Have a “money talk” with your significant other before any big step like moving in together, getting married, or having a child. Acknowledge that it’s likely you both have different habits – one might be a spender and one might be a saver – and there are positives and negatives to both lifestyles. Think about money as the life you build together, not your money, effort, and work against theirs.
5. Lack of intimacy
Sex might feel more like an occasional chore than an important part of the relationship when your schedules gets busy, the kids are up all night, or you’ve just been together for a really, really long time. Plus, partners who are emotionally compatible may not always be sexually compatible. However, unfulfilling intimacy can cause issues in relationships because physical touch releases hormones that bring you closer together and keeps your chemistry alive.
Focus on your physical touch outside of the bedroom – hold hands often, give hugs out of the blue, and kiss more often than routine (like saying hello or goodbye). Openly discuss what both of you want, and make it a priority to provide a safe space to explore together – don’t judge your partner, and don’t be with someone who would judge you. Maintain a spark in the relationship by prioritizing your intimacy, and communicate with your partner if you’re not feeling satisfied with your sex life. It may be hard to be so honest, but dissatisfaction is not an immediate deal breaker – inability to communicate and change together is.
6. Growing apart
We’ve all read the cliché joint statement after a celebrity breakup that says some BS like, “we still love and care for each other, but simply have grown apart…” (p.s., Miley and Liam, if you’re reading this, my heart is still breaking!!). While there’s a lot of truth to relationships not working out because of “growing apart,” it is something that can be fixed with the right effort and care. As humans, we’re always growing – in your relationship, you can either grow together or grow apart.
Be okay with change. A relationship should mean, by definition, a safe space to evolve together – encourage your partner to always be evolving and be their best self, without setting expectations or limitations. Be aware of how their change overtime affects your insecurities, like if putting more hours into their new business is making you feel less important, instead of feeling proud of all their hard work. Always be communicating every feeling you have, and enjoy watching your partner grow, making sure to share your growth with them, too. Let them in on any career success or life milestone, sharing every new phase of together.
Yes, whether or not you truly trust each other can make or break a relationship. Trust is more than just will they cheat on me or won’t they. In order to have a lasting, happy, fulfilling relationship you should not only trust your partner’s loyalty, but trust their opinions, their character, and that they always have your best interest at heart.
Since you can really only control your own actions, here’s what you can do to increase trust in the relationship – make promises you keep, don’t lie (even little white lies to spare feelings), call when you say you will, don’t say things you don’t mean, and look into past wounds that affect the way you trust – do you feel insecure and unlovable or have you been cheated on? Often times, we don’t trust our partner for no reason besides our own past or insecurities. If that’s the case, it’s not that you don’t trust your partner, it’s that you don’t trust the situation of being in a happy relationship. Be open with your partner about why you feel that way and what you two can do to overcome those feelings.
But if it really is your partner that you don’t trust – they’ve lied to you before, they don’t call when they say they will, or they’ve done things behind your back that hasn’t made you feel good – maybe it’s time to rethink if it’s a relationship worth having. Not all disagreements can (or should) be fixed.
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