This post was originally published on Quora as an answer to the question “What are the most common relationship problems you see as a therapist?”
I have seen all kinds of relationship problems over the years. The three most common relationship problems that I see almost every couple experience is in communication, sex, or finances. Many couples experience issues in all three of these areas.
Communication problems often revolve around one or both partners not feeling like the other one is listening to them. Not feeling heard and validated by one another leads to resentment within the relationship. I find that couples who have issues with communication haven’t received the tools to improve.
Couples that want to develop their communication learn new techniques and practice them in the relationship until they become a habit. My advice is to learn how your communication affects your relationship and make a plan to improve it.
Sex and intimacy problems surface in many forms. A few examples are infidelity, a difference in sexual desires, or lack of pleasure in sex. The topic of sex is difficult to discuss in a relationship because it requires each person to be vulnerable and potentially experience pain. This makes the topic easy to avoid.
I find that when most couples show up in therapy, they have waited years to do so. They would have experienced less hurt and pain if they had addressed the issue when it first surfaced in the relationship versus waiting years to seek help. My advice is to have a calm and nonjudgmental discussion about the role of sex in your relationship.
Financial problems in a relationship are as common as communication and sex. In my work with couples, I find that many don’t discuss finances on a regular basis. A couple that only addresses financial issues during an argument will never be able to resolve the problem.
Ideally, the best time to discuss how you view and handle finances would be when the relationship gets serious. This is way before marriage or a long-term partnership. The majority of couples don’t do this, but there is never a better time than right now to have these discussions. My advice is not to put off the discussion any longer.
Every issue that surfaces in a relationship fall into one of these three areas. We are not taught how to have healthy relationships, so we are left to figure it out on our own. If you are experiencing any relationship problems and are unable to resolve them on your own, consider reaching out to a licensed professional for help.