Relationships are often a mixed bag of ups and downs. If there are rosy spells, there are rough patches too. Knowing what the most common relationship problems are can help you brace yourself for weathering the storms, big and small. This, in turn, helps your relationship survive the tumultuous times without taking a major hit.
For instance, when you know that life can get overwhelming sometimes and that can make partners seem distant, you don’t worry about what a phase like this means for the future of your relationship. Instead, you give each other space, wait it out or make an effort to connect despite all the pre-occupations. Early relationship problems are starkly different from the challenges of a relationship later in life. That’s why an understanding of relationship issues can prevent them from snowballing into irreconcilable differences.
The top relationship problems that couples face are somewhat similar to all. Knowing those would help you resolve the conflicts when you are fighting and arguing in the early stages of a relationship. With the help of dating coach Geetarsh Kaur, founder of The Skill School which specializes in building stronger relationships, let’s take a look at the problems in relationships most people are bound to come across.
What Are The 25 Most Common Relationship Problems
Obstacles in relationships are inevitable. Work pressure taking a toll on intimacy. Spark fizzling out. Disrespectful In-laws getting on your nerves. Kids wreaking havoc on your sex life. Illness. Professional journeys taking you on different paths. Life can throw all kinds of twists and turns at you.
When you’re together for the long haul, these life complications start impacting your relationship dynamics. That’s how some of the most common long-term relationship problems start off. What seemed like a happy-go-lucky relationship up until a day ago may look like broken furniture and blocked social media accounts the next day. Common relationship issues, while easily fixable, might just be enough to cause major rifts between lovers.
In the thick of things, the most minute problems may feel like the biggest relationship problems. As though they completely warrant the raised voices and the verbal abuse thrown at each other. Once the dust settles, however, the partners might realize that the damage their harsh words caused was not a justified reaction.
Learning about the common relationship issues will make sure you’re both better equipped to deal with the lemons a topsy-turvy relationship throws your way, and come out the other end with a jug full of lemonade. Granted, navigating the relationship challenges isn’t as easy as making lemonade, but it doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker.
Geetarsh sheds light on the common relationship problems and how you can find your way out of them. “No matter what you experience, be it trust issues, jealousy issues or monetary conflicts, you can pretty much find common ground and solve them through effective communication. Especially when you’re dealing with touchy subjects, make sure you talk about things calmly and are willing to make your partner feel heard. I always tell my clients to write down the things they want to talk about and consider the possible solutions.”
If you trying to understand how to work through your issues and restore your bond to its original strength, learning about these 25 most common relationship problems can help:
Related Reading: 11 Warning Signs Of A Toxic Relationship
1. Being overwhelmed by life
Yes, sometimes life itself becomes one of the most domineering obstacles in relationships. Maybe one of you is up for a promotion and all the energy is focused on sealing the deal. You have an ailing parent to take care of and that responsibility becomes your priority. Or a teenage child is acting out and that’s all you and your partner can talk about.
There are many circumstances when your relationship takes a back seat without you even realizing it. Think about it, when you’re unable to find the motivation to aptly deal with your own issues, how will you be able to support your partner in their hour of need? Being overwhelmed by your own life may end up making your partner feel like you’re not present in the relationship, even if that’s the last thing you want.
The biggest problems in relationships don’t all revolve around how you two collectively operate, they may be the problems you individually face. Making a conscious effort to connect with each other, no matter what the situation, can help you beat this common relationship problem.
2. Lack of healthy communication
That wet towel on the bed has been driving you up the wall. Soon something so inconsequential becomes a reason for constant bickering between you and your partner. A fight ensues every morning. Such common relationship arguments can cause you to become withdrawn and distant. Fights, frustration and misunderstandings take hold and you start dealing with the challenges of life.
Geetarsh explains how a lack of healthy communication is a common relationship problem that affects almost every couple she comes across. “Though communicative partners exist, there also exist a lot of non-communicative partners. The conditioning in them to not talk about what’s been bothering them may have been fostering since they were children, and they’re just manifesting what they know communication to be.
“This can become a huge problem, since people don’t ever figure out how to express their displeasure to people in a healthy way.” To tackle the problem, Geetarsh suggests figuring out how you can amiably bring up the things that have silently been building up resentment inside you.
Not addressing the elephant in the room out of the fear of instigating a nasty fight is an all too common example of poor communication in a relationship. Almost all of the issues in relationships can be swiftly solved, or at least ameliorated, by honest and judgment-free communication. Learning how to express your concerns openly and listening with an open mind can make a huge difference to your relationship dynamics.
3. Taking each other for granted
When you have a lot on your plate, it’s easy to fall into the trap of taking each other for granted. Before you even realize it, you only discuss the mundane essentials of everyday life or eat your meals staring at your phones. This is among the top relationship problems that can make partners drift apart.
Getting caught up in your own life might affect the amount of time you’re able to spend with your partner, and sooner rather than later, those engaging conversations you had just before bedtime become a thing of the past. Couples can take each other for granted when they assume that the relationship will last regardless of the effort they put in, as though it doesn’t need rejuvenation from time to time.
The problems in relationships only get worse when you just expect your partner is going to be there for you, even if you’re not pulling your own weight. In such situations, when couples talk about relationship problems they may be facing, they fail to see the lack of effort they’re putting in. You can counter it by making a sincere effort to set aside some quality time together every day. Schedule regular date nights. Text back and forth throughout the day. Or institute a no-gadgets rule before bedtime every day.
4. Money issues
If you and your partner do not practice sound financial planning right from the beginning, money can become one of the challenges of a relationship. Whether you’re struggling with a shortage of money or disagree over spending style, issues related to money can escalate quickly.
Geetarsh talks about how you mustn’t let your infatuated brain fall prey to the “your money is my money” approach, and think about yourself above all else. “Money should always be the first thing that you have to consider when you decide to spend your life with someone. In situations when one partner is doing better financially than the other, they must realize that there will be a lot of compromises they’ll need to make.
“A lot of other factors depend on your financial independence. Just thinking about your own finances isn’t going to cut it either, you must now think about the collective funding and finances for the both of you. Not having a conversation about it before getting married is criminal, and bound to lead to a lot of misunderstandings. From all the common issues in relationships, this is a problem no one warns you about.”
It may not seem like it when everything is rainbows and butterflies, but one of the biggest problems in relationships often involves money, and it has the potential to ruin a good relationship. Setting short-term and long-term budgets, and discussing savings and investment plans can help you negate this problem. Besides helping you build a secure financial future together.
Related Reading: How Money Issues Can Ruin Your Relationship
5. War of chores
What are the most common problems in a relationship? When looking for an answer to this question, you don’t really expect the pile of mounting dishes to be one of them. Turns out, dividing the chores you two need to get to might just help sustain harmony in your relationship.
Who will take the responsibility for doing the dishes? Who takes out the trash? How often will the lawn get mowed? And who will do it? As inconsequential as these may sound, disagreements over chores are among the most common long-term relationship problems. This has especially emerged as one of the biggest common relationship problems during lockdowns.
It’s critical to be able to have a mature conversation about who is supposed to do what early on. Making an agreement over the division of household responsibilities and honoring it is a smart and simple way to take constant bickering out of the equation. This is a good way to handle relationship issues in the beginning.
Not being able to trust each other is also one of the common relationship problems. Lack of trust isn’t always triggered by cheating or infidelity. Maybe either one or both of you have underlying trust issues. Perhaps, your partner has lied to you in the past and you find it hard to take their word at face value.
When trust is missing from a relationship, it becomes a breeding ground for a host of other problems. The “friends” your partner hangs out with now seem like a threat to your relationship, and the innocent colleague who calls at 9 PM doesn’t seem too innocent anymore.
Geetarsh explains how trust issues can effectively be avoided or curbed. “If there is healthy, open communication between the couple, such trust issues will not spring up. It’s possible to fight them and avoid this common early relationship problem by making sure there’s adequate reassurance and honesty.
“If the partners make each other feel secure, there’s a good chance trust issues are not going to spring up. However, if due to circumstances some trust issues do crop up, both partners must sit with each other and talk about what went wrong and what made them feel insecure. Establish healthy boundaries and assure each other that you’re going to follow them.”
The biggest relationship problems often threaten the very foundation of your equation. So, do your best to be transparent and trustworthy. From not lying about your whereabouts to showing up when you promised to, every small effort goes a long way in reinstating trust in a relationship.
7. A shift in life goals
Our life experiences change us. Let’s say you were both ambitious and driven as a young couple. Then, a difficult pregnancy caused one of the partners to prioritize motherhood over career. Or a near-death experience transformed the other partner into a more “live in the moment” person.
When a couple is not on the same page about their life goals, they can drift apart quickly. If you’re going through such a transformative experience, make sure your partner is aware and in agreement with your changing priorities. Though people don’t really think about it, the relationship problems between couples can escalate when one half of the equation completely changes the way they look at problems and solutions.
If a person decides to quit their 9 to 5 in an attempt to pursue a more fulfilling life, their partner may be worried about the agreed-upon financial budget that’s now going to go down the drain. Granted, most changes in life might not be this severe, but a change in religious beliefs and values may well be enough to trigger compatibility issues.
A shift in life goals is one of the biggest issues in relationships, since your partner may find it hard to embrace this change. The onus of making them see things from your perspective is on you.
8. Lack of appreciation
When was the last time you complimented your partner? Or they thanked you for something? Can’t seem to recall? You’re not alone. Lack of appreciation is considered among the most normal relationship issues. “When people feel neglected and feel like they’re being taken for granted, it eventually makes them stop putting effort into the relationship,” Geetarsh explains.
“Though they might just be going through their chores dutifully, not being appreciated for them is one of the common relationship problems. Verbal appreciation is one of the most sought-after forms of appreciation that, frankly, any human needs and should be able to get. In fact, there was a study that claims that the hormonal rush a person gets from receiving compliments is similar to the rush they receive when they are handed cash,” she adds.
A simple, “Thank you so much for doing that, I appreciate it”, can do wonders for your bond. Who knows, perhaps those often fought over chores might also be done a lot quicker if a few words of encouragement were exchanged. A lot of the relationship challenges you face might be eradicated by simply offering validation through kind words.
It’s easy to start taking each other’s strengths and good qualities for granted when you’re in a long-term relationship. Be mindful of the fact that a compliment here and an appreciative gesture there can keep your relationship fresh and full of spark.
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9. Mismatched sex drives
Yet another one of the most commonplace and normal relationship issues. As our bodies go through myriad changes, with all the stress, hormones, and age catching up, our libidos become unpredictable. In that case, sexual compatibility might become an issue. Lack of intimacy can make couples distant and discontent.
Make an effort to carve out time to get intimate with your partner. Explore other forms of intimacy if your sex drive has taken a hit. Seek medical help, if the situation is taking a toll on your relationship. Geetarsh says, “Though it’s one of the most common relationship problems, it’s also one that couples tend to avoid talking about, fearing they’re going to come off as desperate or that they’re going to anger their partner.
“To address it, you must make sure you talk about it with your partner in a productive manner. Talk about your desires, your likes and dislikes, but make sure the other person feels heard and validated as well. Try to understand the reason behind their sex drive, and be a little empathetic in your approach.”
10. Approach toward parenting
Raising children together can be one of the biggest blessings as well as a litmus test for a relationship. First of all, these tiny humans can take up so much space in your life and mind that your bond with your SO takes a back seat. To top it off, if you disagree on parenting styles and what values to inculcate in your children, it can be a recipe for disaster.
You end up making parenting mistakes and blame each other for that. Discuss these things before you take the plunge into parenthood and you can dodge a major bullet. “I tell all my clients to sit down with their partners before they get married and ask them about how they’d like to approach parenting. How do they want to raise their children? Are they stern or do they have a more lenient mindset while you believe in a strict bed-time?
“At the end of the day, you are also bringing a human being into the world who is going to be a product of your parenting. You wouldn’t want anyone to enter into the world with baggage stemming from negative family dynamics. People assume that clashes over parenting decisions are among the common relationship problems after a baby is thrown into the mix, but it can be avoided if a couple has had a conversation about it beforehand,” says Geetarsh.
11. Jealousy is one of the common relationship problems
A fleeting pang of jealousy if your partner gives or gets too much attention from another person is acceptable. So is feeling a knot in your stomach if they succeed at something you haven’t been able to. But if jealousy establishes a stronghold, it can make your relationship toxic. Constantly checking on your partner’s whereabouts, stalking their social media, snooping around their phone and picking fights on every small issue are red flags that jealousy is getting out of hand.
Of all the problems in relationships, jealousy is one you can see in almost every dynamic. Learning how to effectively deal with it will save you from a lot of nasty arguments. Speaking of how to handle the issue of jealousy in a relationship, Geetarsh says, “You have to understand the pattern of your jealousy. A lot of the times I’ve seen that when someone is really unhappy with themselves, they feel really jealous of every person their partner talks to. In those situations, you must do something about yourself and you must work on it.
“When you think about relationship problems, you might assume that these problems are to be worked out by both the partners. However, especially in situations that are concerned with an unhealthy amount of jealousy, you must understand if the problem lies with you and make sure you work on it. Of course, if your partner consistently crosses boundaries to make you feel jealous, having a productive conversation about it with them is a must.”
12. Being a helicopter partner
You must have heard of helicopter parents. But did you know it is possible to be a helicopter partner too? The two aren’t very different from one another, except here you are overly attached and involved in a romantic partner’s life. Of all the common issues in relationships, being too clingy is one that can threaten the very foundation of your bond, even if things are otherwise going pretty smoothly.
While your heart may be in the right place, this can become one of the major obstacles in relationships. Stop hovering over your partner – and discourage them from doing the same – and behaving like you are Siamese twins. This is one of the top relationship problems people face. Practice valuing personal space, so that neither partner feels suffocated or becomes a control freak.
Related Reading: 13 Things To Do When Your Husband Ignores You
13. Differences in core values
While no two people can be absolutely alike, shared core family values and beliefs are integral to the success of a relationship. If your views on some of the most fundamental issues such as religion, politics, and life goals are poles apart, it can lead to early relationship problems.
Discuss these aspects before getting too emotionally invested in someone. If you don’t see eye-to-eye about most core values but still want to take the relationship forward, agree to disagree. And uphold that principle through the course of your relationship.
14. Unrealistic expectations
If you’re in a relationship, it is only natural to expect certain things from your partner. And vice versa. However, the minute you set the bar of your expectations unrealistically high, you turn a normal human tendency into one of the challenges of a relationship.
To avoid this, first and foremost, express your expectations explicitly. Don’t expect your partner to guess and deliver on your desires. Secondly, if they fail to live up to your expectations once in a while, don’t make it a bigger deal than it should be. They too are human and have their limitations, after all.
“When you get into a relationship, you must try to understand your partner’s strengths and weaknesses as well as the situations around you, and manage your expectations accordingly. Of course, it’s upsetting when your partner promises to have dinner with you on Friday night but never delivers. Make sure you take a look at their point of view as well, and not let your expectations get the better of you.
“It’s a common early relationship problem, so always make sure your expectations are realistic. Empathy will help you do just that. At the same time, it’s important to have a productive conversation and talk about the things that you can realistically expect from your partner. For example, you must talk about the chores you expect them to get to,” explains Geetarsh.
15. Addiction can be among the challenges of a relationship
Addiction to alcohol, drugs or other controlled substances is more rampant than most people think. Being in love with an addict is no walk in the park. When your partner’s entire life revolves around sourcing their next fix and getting high, it can be one of the most crippling challenges of a relationship.
Learn about what you can do in such a situation. With help from the right resources, you and your partner can make a fresh start. Such serious relationship problems between couples must not be ignored, and need to be worked on if you wish to keep the foundation intact.
16. Being unsupportive of each other
This is one of the more normal relationship issues but one that can have a debilitating effect on your bond. When life throws you a curveball, you want and need your partner by your side. You expect them to be your biggest source of support through all the highs and lows. If that’s lacking, it can impact the entire foundation of your relationship.
Feelings of anxiety, loneliness, resentment can start budding in the absence of mutual support. In some cases, it may even seem like a common relationship problem after a baby, when one partner doesn’t pull their own weight and take responsibility for the added chores. The only way to tackle this hurdle is to have a productive conversation about it.
Related Reading: 10 Signs You Are In A Loveless Marriage
17. Drifting apart for no identifiable reason
One day, you’re a happy couple smitten with one another. Then, life happens and ten years go by in the blink of an eye. You look at each other and cannot even recognize the other person. Those much-in-love days seem like they were shared by different people in a different lifetime.
And you wonder, “How did we get here?” You can’t pin the reason but you know you have drifted apart. This is one of the common relationship problems triggered by all the other rampant issues like lack of communication, taking each other for granted, not being supportive and so on.
Geetarsh explains how people can drift apart without even realizing it. “After a point in time, people get so comfortable with each other and their routine of living together, they forget about discovering each other or adding excitement into the mix. It could be because of children, work, a lot of travel involved or other life stressors.
“When this common relationship problem rears its ugly head, the couples must understand how to spend quality time with each other. They must figure out how to keep discovering new aspects of each other’s personality, to try and instill a sense of excitement,” she advises.
18. Viewing the relationship differently is a common issue in relationships
A mismatched view of the future of a relationship or moving forward at different speeds can be one of the early relationship problems. Let’s say you have been dating six months, while one partner is already thinking about moving in together, the other is still wondering if it’s too soon to say “I love you.”
Not being in sync about where you are in your relationship can lead to insecurity, commitment issues, and of course, arguments. Unless both partners patiently explain their respective take on the pace of the relationship to each other, this can become a sore point.
19. Being excessively controlling
Controlling behavior can be described as when one partner takes it upon themselves to decide how the other should behave in the relationship. Not just that, they consider their decisions to be binding on the other person. This is also one of the key signs of toxicity in a relationship. While it cannot be dubbed as one of the normal relationship issues, it is definitely commonplace.
Geetarsh explains how to navigate a controlling partner. “It’s a conditioned problem. It stems from how a person has seen examples of love around them, and thus they practice it in a similar way. To tackle it, boundaries have to be set from day one in the relationship.
“The relationship problems between couples can be settled with effective communication but you must also know when to hold your ground and not budge. Let your partner know what’s okay and what isn’t so they understand that their controlling behavior is only going to harm the relationship.”
Related Reading: 6 Harmless Mistakes In A Relationship That Are Actually Harmful
20. Lack of responsibility on part of one partner
Seen as one of the common relationship problems during the lockdown, a lack of responsibility can often lead to the relationship feeling lop-sided. From chores to finances to making an effort in the relationship, if the entire responsibility falls on one partner, that partner will grow tired of carrying the entire weight of a relationship on their shoulders.
Even though it is among the common relationship problems, it can cause severe damage to a couple’s bond if left unchecked. Don’t keep doing more than your share out of love. There will come a point when you snap. If you feel your partner isn’t rising to the occasion in making the relationship functional and healthy, voice your concerns before they settle into the pattern of letting you pick up their slack.
21. Attraction outside the relationship
Committed monogamous relationships are harder to sustain than they’re made out to be. Meeting “the one” and living happily ever after is the ideal rendition of romance that belongs in romcoms and novels. In real life, romantic partners are often susceptible to getting attracted to other people.
The risk runs high especially when your relationship settles into a monotonous rhythm. Couples who talk about these fleeting crushes or moments of sexual attraction openly are more likely to survive this inevitable issue than those who keep it a secret. Though it may seem like a bad idea to talk about it, this common relationship problem must be addressed and not swept under the rug.
22. Having the same fights again and again
One of the hurdles in overcoming relationship problems is that most couples keep having the same fights over and over again. After a while, it can start to feel like they’re moving in circles, and their relationship has stagnated. This can lead to irritability and discontentment. The same argument becomes a little more volatile every time you fight about it. To break free from this pattern, try to steer arguments toward a solution. When you arrive at one, resolve to live by it.
“When there’s a recurring fight, it may stem from a very painful episode in a relationship that’s going to require a lot of courage for one person to get over. If there’s clearly one partner who constantly ignites the recurring fight, the other must be empathetic and offer them a lot of support to help them get over it.
“However, if there is a partner who is unrealistic about their argument, they must reconsider the way they’re approaching such situations. For instance, the kind of people who only have arguments to win, or the kind of person who has recurring arguments because they’re too scared of proclaiming that they want to separate,” says Geetarsh.
23. Boredom is also one of the top relationship problems
Sometimes your relationship can feel like a space you are caged in, even though everything seems perfect on a checklist of how life ought to be. In such cases, boredom is often to blame. You follow the same routine, day after day, week after week.
Wake up, the morning rush to get to work, return home tired, eat your dinner, watch some TV, and call it a night. Taking time off your routine to mix this up a little by trying new activities like celebrating Spouses Day or revisiting your favorite things to do together from the honeymoon phase can help.
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24. Keeping score is bad for a relationship
Scorecards are an ominous thing in relationships. If you’re keeping track of every mistake, slip-up or flaw of your partner and bringing it up in fights for sake of one-upmanship – or vice versa – your relationship may be riddled with serious issues.
This tendency points to two possibilities. Either you resent your partner for who they are or you want to establish dominance by denting their self-esteem. Neither is healthy. Deal with every issue, every mistake, every fight as a standalone event. Once you’ve resolved it, leave it in the past and move on.
“When you keep a scorecard, it signifies that you’re not in a relationship, you’ve assumed that you’re in a race you must win,” says Geetarsh, “In doing so, you’re trying to prove to your partner that you have the upper hand, that you’re always right and you must be respected more than they are. This common relationship problem only leads to toxicity and must be avoided.”
25. Infidelity is also common relationship problems
Coming to one of the most detrimental yet common relationship problems. Statistics suggest that at least one incident of infidelity in relationships is recorded in 40% of unmarried and 25% of married couples in the US. It is also the cause behind up to 40% of all divorces. Not only are most modern relationships susceptible to the risk of infidelity, but these transgressions can also cause irreparable harm.
Working on your relationship every single day, trying to keep that connection alive, is one way to negate this risk. If it does come to pass, you have to choose between leaving or forgiving. Neither is easy. But with the right guidance and effort, you can rebuild trust in the aftermath of cheating and salvage your relationship.
Now that you know what are the most common problems in a relationship, hopefully, you can try and navigate through some of them with a bit more finesse. Some of these common relationship problems are harmless, others far more dangerous. Take little steps every day to save your relationship from blowing up in your face. If you and your partner are dealing with any of these issues and unable to handle them on your own, know that couples’ counseling can be an effective solution.
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There is no exact timeframe where we can say a relationship starts to have problems. But early relationships problems take off when the honeymoon period gets over.
It is the most normal thing to have problems at all phases of a relationship – be it in the early phase or later on. In the early phase, you might treat finances or household chores as top problems and later on it might become kids or lack of intimacy.
It’s not that hard to solve relationship problems. You need solid communication, the ability to resolve conflict, and common couple goals to ease things out. Sometimes people opt for relationship counseling to iron out the issues.
Your relationship is worth saving when you cannot live without each other, cannot imagine your partner with someone else, your arguments are silly and you are having mind-blowing sex.