Relationships, like everything worth committing to in life, take work.
After the honeymoon phase has ended, reality starts to set in and we are faced with the inevitable problems that are typical to any long-term relationship—incompatibilities, differences in viewpoints, and even mundane aspects of a person that, over time, start to grate on the nerves.
This is the time when work needs to be done in order to overcome these problems and, as a result, gain an even deeper sense of intimacy—one that isn’t contingent on chemistry and infatuation but instead has a solid foundation of communication, commitment, and trust.
One of the most common issues or problems people run into when they are in relationships is communication. This varies from couple to couple—some feel like they never talk about anything while others might feel like their partner doesn’t empathize with them when they complain about their day. One person in the relationship may have difficulty communicating because it makes them feel vulnerable or they suspect some sort of confrontation, while the other may lack the practical wisdom required to withhold saying every thought they have about their partner out loud—no matter how hurtful it may be.
The best way to overcome these obstacles is through open and empathetic communication that is honesty (practice saying what you truly mean without sugarcoating, but not being petty either).
This doesn’t just mean commitment to one’s partner physically and emotionally. It’s also about commitment to routine.
Many relationship difficulties result from a lack of stability, a lack of follow-through, and really, a lack of volition. We might “fall in love”, but it takes a conscious choice to stay there.
If you find that one of you always takes the initiative to plan dates or social events, consider switching it up a bit and having the other person take over for a change. Make sure that each partner has some time dedicated solely to their own interests as well as the couple’s time together.
Similarly, by bonding over the little things—such as going out for coffee on a weekend morning or walking around your apartment complex at night—you begin building a stronger connection with your partner.
Trust in relationships is not a given, it needs to be earned. It needs to be built. And it takes time.
In a romantic relationship, trust is not just about fidelity. It’s about being able to rely on your partner when you need their help with something. In order for a relationship to truly work, both of you must be able to feel safe enough confiding in each other and exposing your true self, fears and vulnerabilities included.
While this can take some time to accomplish, once that threshold has been reached the results are well worth it—because then you will find yourself unafraid of initiating honest communication, knowing your partner will not judge you for what you say or how you feel.
You Don’t Have To Do It Alone
There are many people who see relationship/marital therapy as the beginning of the end, but there are studies that show the opposite—this kind of counseling usually helps, with 70-80% of couples reporting positive and relationship-improving results.
Most importantly, you are not giving up on your relationship by seeking help.
If you and your partner are experiencing relationship problems that seem irreconcilable, seeking couples therapy is an affirmation that your relationship is worth saving.