In the many years I have worked as a therapist, the three most common reasons for relationship conflicts are: 1. infidelity, 2. finances, and 3. kids
1. Infidelity - Finding out your partner has been unfaithful can throw your relationship into crisis mode and possibly even destroy it. Today, with social media, partners can have a relationship that is not physical, but is still considered cheating. Sexting and suggestive conversations are two ways of cheating that are easy and very tempting. When the trust in a relationship is lost, it is hard to regain it.
Once you get past the trauma of your partner's infidelity, ask yourself a simple question: "Why is my partner unfaithful?" It could be a result of other conflicts in the relationship or something not related to your relationship at all.
- No matter what, here are a few tips that may help you through this difficult time:
- Accept the feelings you are having. They are very normal.
- Give yourself time. It will take time to get past the pain.
- Don't expect your feelings of distrust to go away. Your relationship has changed.
- Don't seek revenge. It may give you a temporary sense of satisfaction, but it won't allow you to heal and move on.
- Take care of you. Try to find ways to reduce your stress, get plenty of sleep, eat healthy meals, and have some fun - a good distraction from the pain you are feeling.
- Avoid the blame game. It won't change anything.
- Keep your kids out of it. This is between you and your partner.
- Seek counseling. Don't try to deal with this life-changing event alone. Before you make a decision on what to do, talk with a counselor to help you gain better insight on next steps.
2. Finances - Money problems can begin even before a couple is married. It is important to ask yourself these questions:
- What are our financial challenges?
- What does money mean to me?
- How important is money in our relationship?
When resolving conflicts with finances, remember:
- Be honest with your current financial situation.
- Don't discuss the topic of money in the heat of another argument.
- Acknowledge that one partner may be a saver and another a spender, and find some type of compromise.
- Don't hide your income or your debts.
- Develop a joint budget.
- Decide which person will pay the bills.
- Allow each person to have his or her own money to spend at his or her discretion.
3. Kids - Your life changes drastically after you start having children. Raising kids is no easy task and can tear apart relationships. In many cases, parents argue over differences in their parenting styles. Often, one parent is more strict and the other is more lenient, for example.
Don't resist these differences. Instead, embrace them, discuss them, and use them as a way to learn more about each other and grow even closer - as a couple and as a parent. Working together to raise your children must be your highest priority. Your children will grow up in a loving, supportive, nurturing environment. As parents, you are setting the example for a happy, healthy family.
In conclusion, there are so many things that divide couples, but there are so many more things that can bring them back together. In most cases, couples really want to repair their relationship and they struggle with how to do it.
If you feel your relationship is impacting your day-to-day life negatively, when issues are unresolved, when you have tried everything to fix your problems and you still don't see any progress, you may want to consider seeking professional help.
Rita Clark is a licensed clinical social worker with The Center for Relationship and Sexual Health in Royal Oak. She has more than 20 years of experience working with couples to improve their relationship.
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