Who can have relationship issues?
Besides having relationship issues with a partner, people can also have relationship issues with family members, co-workers, friends, church members, bosses, neighbors, etc. People with issues in their relationship might look for marriage counseling and want to talk to a couple’s therapist. Pre-nuptial couples also look for pre-marital counseling.
Signs and symptoms of relationship issues
Here are some of the issues seen in difficult relationships:
- Unable to communicate their thoughts and feelings
- Lack of trust
- Issues with intimacy and sex
- Lack of respect
- Lack of support
- Financial issues
- Family conflicts
- In-laws issues
- Blended family issues
- Parenting differences
- Issues with children and adult children
- Not building a healthy/positive future
- Staying in the past
- Having affairs / cheating
- Keeping secrets (affairs, alcoholism, financial issues, drug use, past, etc.)
- Anger, violence, arguments
Causes of relationship issues
It does not matter if you are having relationship difficulties with family members, your co-workers, or your loved one, most of all relationship difficulties derives from childhood issues, family modeling, personality traits, and attachment. The way you have formed yourself as a person might be in conflict with the way the other person is.
During the early years, infants learn to seek refuge in their mother’s arms when they are stressed. Parents encourage their toddlers to be self-resilient, that it is OK to get hurt and not have your boo-boo kissed to get better. Middle schoolers learn to make and survive from a friendship break. High schoolers learn to love and survive from broken heart. All of that to prepare this individual how to go about living the human life: with ups and downs. To learn that when you are down, you may find a way (by yourself, or with help of others) to get out of the situation. Parents also should provide a model of what a relationship is, and how to recover from disagreements in a healthy way.
Unfortunate, not everyone has those experiences to help “surviving” adulthood. At times, it is hard to deal with bosses or coworkers who are not professional, or do not put their weight on the work; or with family members who are too needy, or too distant; or with that person you are trying to develop a meaningful relationship (friend or love).
You may have grown to be too dependent yourself, or too shy/timid, anxious. Your self-esteem may have been shattered, or confidence levels may be too low, you may not have goals for yourself, or pride. You may be too cold (or too warm), or present yourself very immature, silly, with excessive attention-seeking or self-destructive behaviors.
How I treat people with relationship issues
I often use an integrative approach to treat people with relationship issues. I use techniques from Gottman Therapy, EFT1 Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), as well as psychotherapy, Mindfulness, ACT, EFT2, and other types of therapy I’ve trained on and maybe useful to the treatment. I spend a great amount of time in psycho-sexual-education to help individuals and couples understand themselves and others.
Staying positive about the relationship requires people to find ways to integrate their perceptions of their problems and disappointments with the overall view of the relationship and the world around them.
There are not a “quick/easy” way to treat people with relationship issues. It took many formative years for you to be who you are. It will take some years to change behaviors, thoughts, and feelings. If this is what is keeping you living a fulfilling life, you may need to invest in yourself and commit to a long-term treatment.
Typical outcomes of relationship issues treatment
After completing treatment, patients can expect moving to a healthier level of relationship. At times, it will be necessary to create a new type of relationship. Couples who have completed treatment, report higher levels of commitment, trust, and intimacy, which helps strengthens the love they have.
FAQ about relationship treatment
Yes. However, if the issue is within the relationship and not with the individual, it is highly recommended that the couple attend sessions together. The first step for a better relationship is having both parties invested in getting into a better/ new type of relationship.
Since there are many different types and levels of issues among people, it is expected that the duration of treatment depends of the level of their conflicts. For optimal results, it is expected to complete treatment in the first couple years of treatment.
At the beginning of treatment, couples will attend sessions weekly, until all the negative symptoms have been resolved. When we move to build the “positive bank” in your relationship, the sessions might be attended every other week then.
It depends. Each person has their own set of beliefs that come from their family, their formation, and their temperament. Some people may be able to forgive and move on, while others may keep the resentment for long time. Either way, it is necessary to find out why the partner left the relationship (temporarily), why they both want to continue in this relationship, and if they are committed to try to make this work.
Temporarily. At times, individuals keep secrets (affairs, alcoholism, financial issues, drug use, past, etc.) from their partners, but it has been found that secrets are damaging for maintaining a healthy relationship. I might keep a secret for a couple of weeks, with the understanding that the secret will be out soon. I will help the partner keeping the secret to come up with statements and learn how to communicate the difficult talk. People tend to keep secrets when they are afraid of rejection or reaction from their partners. Being in therapy provides a safe environment and tools to help bring about the secrets to partners.
Consult with a psychologist to get help with your relationship issues right away. I use many techniques to treat individuals and couples. I use integrative psychotherapy to help with relational issues, and any other issue risen during treatment.
Broken trust can happen in a relationship for many reasons. Trust is the second strong pillar of a good relationship. If you are having problems with trust, you most likely having great issues in your relationship. Read below some signs and reasons of losing trust in your partner.
Signs and reasons of Trust problem in your relationship
- Affairs / cheating
- Sexual involvement with other
- Non-sexual involvement, but intimate relationship with others
- Financial “secrets” / overspending
- Suspicious behaviors
- Suspicion of affairs
- Suspicion of drug/alcohol abuse
- Suspicion of porno addiction/use
- Suspicion of gambling
- Checking partner’s social media
- Checking partner’s phone / texts / messages
- Pretending being someone else to check partner’s behavior
Causes of trust issues in a relationship
Often times people lose trust due to partner’s behaviors or they have never build trust due to past experiences with other partners or how they were raised by their parents. It is important to explore the models of relationship you grew up with, from your parents or other relevant adults in your life.
How I help couples rebuild their trust
There are many steps to take to heal from broken trust, including:
- Building new boundaries on emotional, social, and sexual areas with others
- Arriving to a mutual agreement on what is acceptable and what is prohibited behaviors
- Encouraging hurt partner to agree on trying to engage on the process of forgiveness
- Encouraging both partners to share responsibility for reconstructing the relationship
- Helping partners to put effort in meeting each other’s emotional and physical needs
Typical outcomes of working on trust issues in marriage therapy
Trust must be restored in order to restructure the relationship. Just like real life, there’s a 50/50 percent chance that therapy will work. It is imperative that both partners take responsibility of their failures and agree to engage in building a new type of relationship. If trust is not restored, couples may agree in put effort to have a respectable separation. Your therapist will help you in every step of the way.
FAQ about trust issues
Since there are many variables, it is impossible to predict how long it will take, if ever, to restore trust among the couple. Hopefully, the couple engaged in therapy with the goal of healing their relationship. However, past events, partner’s own development and personality may prevent full forgiveness and the relationship may end. When there’s trust issues, beyond the other issues present in therapy, it is likely that the treatment will be longer than usual, usually 2 years or more.
Couples should attend therapy once a week (or twice-a-week in some cases) for the first part of treatment. Later on, couples may start coming every-other-week until the end of treatment.
You can come by yourself to do individual therapy. However, most likely you may find that when your partner is not putting effort in coming and/or engaging in therapy, you may conclude that the relationship is not worth of pursuing.
I strongly suggest having both partners in session when there are marital conflicts.
Yes/Not right now. Secrets are never good. I might agree to keep your secret for a couple of sessions, and help you to find ways to approach your partner, so you can communicate in a way he/she will understand you. Thereafter, I promote honest communication, so you can move towards healing.
Essentially, people lie for two reasons: self-preservation and survival. If someone thinks they will be judged by their behaviors/thoughts/feelings, they might resort to lies to be accepted by others. When people feel in danger or at risk of losing their security, they may lie. Therapy helps people with lying problems, since the therapist help to normalize behaviors, and help partners to find ways to communicate issues that are difficult to talk about, without the risk of being disapproved, or putting down.
You are an important part of why the person lies to you. Your reaction to what your partner says is an important part on how good communication works. If after working on issues, the trust is still not there, the therapist will help the partners to find an amicable way to go apart.
Having an effective communication, knowing how to talk to one another, is one of the pillars of a good relationship. When couples don’t know how to communicate, a lot other problems appear in the relationship, such as lack of trust, lack of support, disconnection, etc., and their relationship may suffer or fail. Read below the most common signs of problems in a relationship to help you make the first phone call to consult with a marriage therapist or relationship expert.
Signs and Symptoms of communication problem in your relationship
- There are frequent arguments
- Arguments cause one or both significant upset
- There are difficulties resolving problems
- There are frequent misunderstandings during discussions
- One of both partners view the disagreements as “the tip of iceberg” for bigger problems (such as lack of love or respect), rather than specific problem
Causes of communication issues in a relationship
Often times couples don’t know how to communicate because they never lived in an environment where there was effective communication style. People come from different backgrounds, different cultures, different families. Your parents (and grandparents) may not have learned themselves how to communicate with their spouses, and perhaps never taught you how to communicate with others.
At times, communication fail because a partner cannot identify the cues that the argument is impending (triggers such as their own body sensations, feelings, thoughts, or behaviors).
Sometimes partners don’t know how to identify times that are conducive to discussing issues or get help solving problems. For example, the partner who blurs out all little things that went wrong with the children right after the other partner step in the house.
There are some blocks for a good communication, such as putting a wall (ignoring what the other have to say to avoid conflict or convey disapproval), criticizing (verbally attacking personality or character, name calling), attacking a person with intent of insult or abuse, and defensiveness (reversing the attack, putting self as a victim).
How I treat partners with communication issues
In session, I ask couples to go over an example of how their communication failed and I watch for the blocks that are preventing a good communication. I then explain and demonstrate how to communicate by using active listening, reflection, and teach partners to find the right words that promotes open communication and movement towards solution.
Typical outcomes of communication issues in couples’ treatment
Couples learn how to communicate within a few weeks, and they keep practicing their new communication style throughout the treatment. After couples learn how to communicate their problems and inner feelings, or even when need “venting”, it gets easier for them to move to other issues present in the relationship.
FAQ about communication issues
Communication issue is often the tip of the iceberg. Often times, couples have deeper problems within the relationship or with themselves that need to be resolved before treatment ends. Since this is a big variable, it is impossible to predict how long the treatment will last. Most couples stay in treatment for about 1 or 2 years.
At first, couples will attend sessions weekly, or twice-a-week, depending of the presenting issues. Later on, treatment may move to every-other-week sessions.
Sure you can. You can always learn new ways to communicate, and hopefully your partner will learn from you. However, for optimal results for the relationship, it is imperative that both partners be engaged in treatment.