Ever heard the saying: “Marriage is like walking on hot coals”? Ok, that may be a tad over the top, but you get the point. Relationships are hard. There’s no two ways about it. While you may know a couple (or you may be that couple) where everything appears dreamy on the outside, you never know what’s going on behind closed doors. And, more often than not, it’s not all that dreamy.
Now, we’re not saying that marriage isn’t worth it, just that it takes a lot of effort and communication, from both parties, in order to be a success.
We at Mind and Body Counseling Associates, Reno, Nevada, collated the various reasons why relationships can get tricky and how to overcome these.
#1 Intimacy is Difficult
"Romantic relationships can be difficult to maintain because they possess more intimacy than any other relationship," says life coach Kali Rogers. "The amount of closeness — emotional, physical, spiritual, and even mental — that is in a relationship is overwhelming to handle at times."
Rogers advises knowing when to take a break and maintain your own sense of self. While it can be tempting to rely on your significant other for all of your emotional needs, this is where most relationship issues start.
#2 Conflict Management is a Must!
According to psychologist Nicole Martinez, the author of eight books, including The Reality of Relationships: "If [couples] do not let themselves be open, ask questions, and learn what their unique conflict management style is, they will struggle to get past the initial stages."
Furthermore, a fundamental component of successful conflict management is to stay curious. When you notice that your partner is upset, ask questions like, "Why did that bother you so badly?" and be willing to listen to the answer.
#3 Expectations Are Brutal
Possibly, one of the most dangerous killers of relationships is unrealistic expectations. Acording to Dr. Ramani Durvasula, author of Should I Stay or Should I Go: Surviving a Relationship With A Narcissist: “After a while, fabulous first dates and courtship give way to routine and sometimes boredom. [And, what’s worse, is many couples] engage in lots of social comparison, comparing stuff, partners, lifestyles — and that can set a high bar for your own relationship.”
In her book The Real Thing, Washington Post features writer Ellen McCarthy quotes Diane Sollee, a marriage educator: "[Sollee] wants couples who are getting ready to walk down the aisle to know — really know — that it will be hard. That there will be times when one or both of them want out and can barely stand the sight of each other. That they'll be bored, then frustrated, angry, and perhaps resentful. [But], Diane also wants them to know that all of these things are normal."
#4 Romance Isn’t a Constant
“The romance in a relationship is meant to be temporary,” says zen psychotherapist and neuromarketing strategist Michele Paiva. “We get the fishing pole, the right string, bait, a hook, and a great watering hole — and have patience. The string is what we put out there, and the hook is how we catch them — the bait, is the romance. That’s what the fish [are really] attracted to. They don't want the hook, line or pole. So, we reel them in, and we are thrilled. [But], bait isn't meant to last forever, [it’s] just to get the fish attracted,”
“If you want to maintain romance, you have to work it,” New York–based relationship expert and author April Masini says. “You can do this by creating new experiences, rekindling old ones, and looking for deeper, more mature love that is less about a spark than it is about love, respect, sex and caring for each other over the course of the long run.”
Read our blog on ‘How to Maintain the Spark in Your Marriage’ here.
#5 Relationships Rip off the Band-Aid
“Romantic relationships bring up unhealed issues, and when these issues inevitably surface, trouble ensues,” relationship coach and psychic medium Cindi Sansone-Braff, author of Why Good People Can't Leave Bad Relationships, says. “A lot of people run away from love at this point, thinking that they were fine until this person came into [their] life. Of course, this isn't true — these people just had a Band-Aid on a carcinoma.”
Sansone-Braff encourages individuals to “heal your issues” on your own. Whether that involves reading self-help books, meeting with a counselor, or chatting to a trusted friend. It will, no doubt, stand you in good stead for a successful future relationship.
#6 Distractions Cause Havoc
We live in a world where there are far too many distractions. “When our partner becomes distracted by the TV, internet games or porn, we receive less of their attention and the focus on romance fizzles,” says relationship coach and psychic medium Melinda Carver.
"State your desire for more romance or book a getaway for the two of you,” she suggests. “You also may create romantic moments without waiting for your partner to do so.”
#7 Familiarity Breeds Contempt
“Once we feel comfortable in a relationship, we have a tendency to take everything for granted,” Salama Marine, psychologist and online dating expert for dating website EliteSingles, says. “It could be a simple ‘I love you’ when you leave for work, or doing something thoughtful around the house. [You need to realise that] every gesture of affection — and appreciation — counts, and will help you to live as happily with your partner even after the honeymoon period.”
#8 Opposites Attract
During her research on habits and personalities for her book, The Four Tendencies, Gretchen Rubin noticed a trend: that people are often attracted to individuals who will later drive them crazy.
"If you're an upholder, you live life according to a schedule. [For example] you never miss your daily run, and you always eat fewer than 30 grams of carbs a day, and you always go to bed by 11. It could be exciting be swept off your feet by somebody who feels very free and not confined."
Yet, Rubin found that, over time, this novelty may wear off and these two different approaches can come into conflict. In this instance, refer to the ‘Conflict Management’ point above.
#9 Clashing Values
Let’s be clear, values are different from interests. While common interests may bring you together initially, clashing values will drive you apart in the long run.
Karl Pillemer, a professor of human development at Cornell University, met with a number of mature Americans while writing his book, 30 Lessons for Loving. Almost all of his interviewees suggested having a blunt discussion with your partner about core values before even thinking about marriage.