Have you been blindsided by a relationship problem you never saw coming? Things seem to be rolling along smoothly. You feel good about your relationship. You rarely fight. Then out of the blue, your partner tell you “This isn’t working,” or perhaps “I don’t feel the same anymore, we want different things now,” or “I’m not happy,” or “I don’t love you anymore.” If this has happened to you, you probably have experienced one of the 5 most common, yet unforeseen relationship problems:
1. Life Changes: You met your partner at one point in life, but things have changed. Their career changed or their job relocated. They started or finished college. They become a caregiver to a family member. They suffer a loss of home or family. There are many life changes that can have a dramatic impact on a relationship. These challenges may cause the partner encountering the change to view their life and current relationship differently. What only a short time ago was just fine, now takes on a new light. Priorities shift and needs change. You can choose to maintain your relationship and overcome your life changes together, or you may decide to part ways–either temporarily or permanently–through no fault of either person in the relationship.
2. Personal Changes: We are all in a constant state of change and we all evolve over time. Who we were a few months or years ago is not the same as the person we are today. Our life goals change. Our needs change. Our personalities can shift either situationally or from our core. Additionally, our partners are also evolving and changing. Over time these changes can present challenges to a relationship. What once met our needs may not in the future. What we thought was important or unimportant at one time may no longer be the same priority of importance today. Personal changes greatly influence relationships and many do not survive major changes. Even people who love each other can grow apart. It is important to evaluate ourselves and our relationships as we go through life and communicate our needs to our partner. However, if our changes are too great, it may be best for both to end a relationship and seek a more compatible partner.
3. Different Goals: As we go through life many of our personal and professional goals change. School, marriage, children, jobs/careers, and personal goals all change over time. When you meet someone and begin a relationship you evaluate that person and the relationship based on the factors at that time. Is is very important to know your own goals and to be authentic and communicate your goals with your partner. As things change, it may be you no longer share the same goals. You may decide you no longer want the same things from life or each other. When this happens, it is often best to part ways if you cannot be truly happy living your life–with no regrets–while accommodating your partners changing needs at the time. All relationships end. How long they last is greatly determined by the things we share in common. If one partner wants a major life change and the other does not share that goal (e.g. marriage, starting a family, moving, etc.) it may be best to lovingly part ways rather than resent a situation or your partner for very different yet important goals.
4. Financial Problems: In many cases, divorced partners site financial problems as the cause for the dissolution of their marriage. Financial problems place a great deal of strain on a relationship. It is best to be very clear up-front on your expectations of individual and shared financial responsibilities. When both partners are responsible for their own financial burdens balance is maintained. This is not to say that all partnerships are financially 50/50, but rather, that whatever the couple has deemed acceptable in contribution, it is taken seriously and respected. It is critical to openly communicate about financial matters if you are planning on marrying, as well as throughout a marriage. [Top Ten Ways to Better Communicate in Your Relationship] Ignorance is definitely not bliss and being careless about financial responsibilities and not contributing to your shared financial picture can easily end a relationship.
5. Intimacy Problems: No one likes to admit to having intimacy problems, but they are more common than most might think. When a relationship is new, we are excited to be close to the object of our affection. Excitement is at an all time high and although there can be some problems with intimacy even when a relationship is new (learning each others likes and dislikes, anxiety leading to performance problems, fear of intimacy, differing needs of affection), our expectations are relatively low and our enjoyment is at an all time high. But over time, we often begin to develop new expectations such as availability and timing, frequency and duration, sex versus affection, etc. In addition, the stresses of our daily lives can make an impact on moods and desire for intimacy. Things may be wonderful, but then life, personal or health changes intervene leaving us wanting for more. It is critically important to communicate with your partner your needs for intimacy. Make your intimate life a priority. Have fun and enjoy each other. When intimacy is lacking or absent, most relationships eventually fail.
Bottom line: Every relationship ends–whether it ends after dating or after marriage or due to death. It is up to us to be true to ourselves and to our partner and make the most of out of the gift of time that we share together. Many factors influence our relationships. Sometimes it is better to end a relationship, even though it may be difficult. Both partners may be far happier with a different partner if too many differences exist between them or they are no longer in love. If you are prepared for the inevitability of change and communicate with each other, you’ll have a better chance of enjoying your time together and better able to face life’s challenges.
Share your experiences in your relationships. Have you been blindsided by a change? Share your insights with others in our comments section.