Relationship conflicts can range from small incidents like arguing over what’s for dinner, up to big blowouts, like whether or not you both want kids. Here we tackle some of the problems you’re likely to encounter in any relationship, and what to do about them. Scroll through and find answers to your specific struggles!
Not Clicking: Bridge the Distance
If you’re feeling bored in your relationship, the first thing to do is ask yourself why. Do you no longer find your partner interesting? Are you lacking something to connect over? Has your sexual relationship fizzled out?
Whatever your reasons may be, have a conversation with your partner about how you’re feeling. They may want to bring the spark back, too – get it out on the table, and you can both take action together.
You might be able to plan a special romantic getaway or introduce something new into the bedroom. An activity where you work toward a shared goal, like taking a cooking class together, could be all you need to bring back exciting connection.
Remember that jealousy is a useful feeling. It exists so that we’ll want to protect what’s important to us. This fact, coupled with the mild uncertainty in every relationship, can make us worry over our partner’s commitment.
Your partner’s actions, though, may only be one part of where your jealousy comes from. Try to separate their actions from your other feelings or ruminations, like worrying about being lonely, being cheated on in the past, or thinking you aren’t good enough for your partner.
To address the root of your jealousy, you must acknowledge your feelings, understand your own priorities, and communicate them to your partner — not an easy task, but understanding that jealousy is normal may make it easier to tackle.
Lack of communication
Sometimes it may feel like your partner is speaking a different language. When talking to them, try to be present, be honest, and be open.
To actively listen to your partner, ask yourself how their sentiments fit into what you already know of them, and ask them questions to help understand how everything fits together.
Focus on communicating with your partner: understanding what they share with you, and avoid making judgments or imposing your own views onto their personal feelings. To make sure that both you and your partner are heard in your relationship, start by doing your part, and the rest should come.
It’s healthy to have your own interests and to explore life independently from your partner. However, it’s also important to share things in common with your partner. If you’re looking for those things lately, try new, exciting things together.
Activities that involve a shared adrenaline rush will help you connect, by physically priming your body for connection – when you’re in a risky situation, it’s helpful to have a partner. Your body knows that, and will feel more easily connected at, say, a scary movie. Getting out of your comfort zone helps you grow as individuals and can help your relationship grow as well.
Sometimes the problem is a literal distance between you. Though being apart can be frustrating, focus on the future you both are working towards. Long-distance isn’t as bad if you keep the hope and excitement alive. Don’t forget to talk about the steps you’re taking toward that future, like planning to apply to a school or job in your partner’s location in a few years, or your mutual dream of relocating to Europe together after you both save up enough money.
Differing Values, Across the Board
First off, know you’re not alone.
30% of married couples do not identify with the same political party. Leaving out independents, 10% of married couples are a Democrat and Republican pair.
Set limits for political conversation.
Don’t carry your arguments with you to bed. Set a 10-minute time limit, or confine your discussion to the coffee table. Maybe certain topics are mostly or completely off-limits, and that’s ok. You can always find another person or group to share your political frustrations.
Find common ground.
It’s unlikely that you and your partner disagree on everything. Perhaps you agree on a social issue despite differing economic opinions. Perhaps you share the importance of a specific value, such as freedom of speech or education, even if you disagree on its implementation.
Look for opportunities for growth.
When you surround yourself with like-minded people, you may find yourself in an echo chamber. Being with a politically different partner can allow each of you a chance to challenge your views. When people urge “reaching across party lines,” you may be the prime candidate.
Participate in some of your partner’s religious activities.
Even if you disagree with some aspects of your partner’s beliefs, look for ways to support them that don’t conflict with your own views. Attend church on Sunday as an observer if not as a believer. Celebrate Hanukkah along with Christmas. Listen to them talk about the origin of their God(s). Respect and an open ear can go a long way.
Focus on similarities.
Do you both believe in God, even if from a different faith? Do you both support any common religious tenets, such as helping the less fortunate?
Come up with a system.
Not every couple needs to completely merge their finances. Keeping them separate is an option. Some couples opt to merge most of their income, but also have small separate accounts that they can spend as they please.
If there is an income difference between you and your partner, you don’t necessarily need to split everything 50/50. If you make twice your partner’s income, it may be worth considering paying more for common needs than your partner does (or vice versa).
Differing Views of the Future
Have an honest conversation with your partner about the biggies:
- Do you want to settle down or travel? If you both want to settle down, do you have similar places in mind?
- Do you and your partner want a two-income household? Or does one of you want to be a stay-at-home parent?
- Do you want to get married eventually? If so, when?
- Do you want kids? If so, when?
When you have any big differences in answers to these questions, you’ll have to decide if your relationship can survive them.
If you choose to stay together, hop on the road to compromise. Start talking early so you can have plenty of smaller conversations without the pressure of an impending decision.
In the end…
You may have noticed a common theme here. For whatever roadblock you are facing, first look inward to really understand your feelings and what you want. Then talk to your partner about it openly and honestly. Listen to their response. And, if you want your relationship to work, start talking about compromise. It won’t happen all at once, but you’ll both change as you grow together. You may be surprised with where you two end up.
Just make sure to focus on the most important thing you have in common: that you love each other.