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Most relationship problems arise from a lack of communication. It is common knowledge that communication is key to a happy dating relationship. When problems arise, they need to be addressed in a healthy way. It can be a problem as simple as your partner not doing their share of housework. Now, if you are a passive person, you may have a fear of confronting your partner. You don’t want to upset them or start a fight. If you have a more outspoken personality, you may come off as accusing or critical, which almost always leads to conflict.
So why is communication so important? If you can't be open with your partner about your wants and needs, it will become quite confusing for them to know how to please you. You may lie to your partner about how you feel about something, leading them to assume everything is okay in your relationship. For example, you have been planning your spring break with your partner for months. You both took time off work for your vacation and you couldn't be more excited. As spring break approaches, your partner tells you he or she is going to go on a trip with their parents, and you will have to start your spring break a few days late. Obviously, you are frustrated. How could they just change things without even asking how you feel? You were really looking forward to this trip!
So what do you do? Do you tell them how you feel, or just let it go? If you tell them that it's okay, when in fact it infuriates you, your partner will likely assume that you are okay with this behavior and continue to disregard your time together. If you continue to allow this kind of behavior, it will leave you bitter and your partner confused (if they are truly oblivious to how this makes you feel).
By keeping an open line of communication with your partner, you can easily avoid these issues.
Some people find it difficult to vocalize their concerns in their relationship. They may be afraid that their partner will leave or get angry, so instead, they bottle it up or try to “get over it.” Don’t do this. As mentioned before, it will only leave you bitter and angry, and you could potentially miss out on an otherwise great person.
So how do you address issues in your relationship? I’ll tell you what has been effective (usually, I’m not perfect!) for me.
1. Approach the issue calmly and kindly.
It is best to approach your partner when they are not already stressed out or having a bad day. Ask them how they are feeling to gauge whether now is a good time. Calmly bring up the issue and tell them how you are feeling. Be sure not to sound accusing. Many couples' therapists caution against "You" sentences. These almost always come across as critical and accusatory. Instead of saying something like, "You always cancel plans with me. I'm obviously not that important to you!", you could say, "It really makes me upset when our plans get canceled. It makes me feel like I'm not important to you." You never want to make your partner feel bad. Always reassure them you are not mad, but that you think fixing the issue will improve your relationship.
2. Wait for improvement.
If you have tried to talk it out, and there are still no improvements, try bringing it up again in the same way. Nobody is perfect, and you must allow your partner to be human. This means no nagging! Kindly and calmly remind them how it makes you feel.
3. Reevaluate Relationship
If the issue becomes a constant pattern, that signifies a lack of respect on their part, and that is NOT okay. Know when it is time to call it quits. You don’t have to stay in an unhappy relationship you have made a one-sided effort to maintain. Relationships are not a 50/50 deal. Each of you should be giving 100%. Knowing when to let go of an unhealthy relationship will open you up to better ones in the future!
These tips don’t apply to relationships in which your partner is abusive to you. If you feel unsafe, do everything in your power to get out!