11 Relationship Struggles You Should Never Be Embarrassed About
If you've ever imagined your ideal relationship, you've probably pictured it looking, well, pretty perfect. When we idealize and fantasize we don't see the miscommunications, disagreements, or compromises. We don't imagine stress. When we get into an actual relationship and first experience that conflict, it can almost feel like a sign that something is wrong. But the truth is, relationship struggles are common.
"We all know that arguments and conflicts are a natural part of every relationship in our lives,” Heidi McBain, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and author of Life Transitions: Personal Stories of Hope Through Life’s Most Difficult Challenges and Changes, tells Bustle. “However, what is even more important is how we deal with these issues when they show up in our relationships, because they will come up at some point for all of us.”
If you're feeling like you're really struggling in your relationship, there is a very good chance other people have been through the same thing. While some things are not acceptable — like abuse or manipulation —plenty of struggles that come up in a relationship don't have to spell out the end. You should feel OK to talk about them, vent about them, and to own up to them.
Here are 11 relationship struggles that you should never feel embarrassed about, according to experts.
1. The "Money" Struggle
Money is just straight-up stressful in general. And in a relationship, you're balancing two different people's relationships to money. It's tricky to navigate, but with communication it can be done.
“People often have very different ways of dealing with money, especially when it comes to how much they need to have to feel safe and secure in life,” McBain tells Bustle. “It helps to talk openly about how they save and spend, and the sooner they can have these conversations the better (even starting before they are married). Having set financial goals that they are working toward together can also be helpful.”
You should never be embarrassed if you're finding that talking about money is difficult. Don't feel like you're in it alone.
2. The "Hating Their Favorite Show" Struggle
Sometimes, you might just look at your partner and think, "How the eff can they like that?" If you hate their favorite shows, books, movies, or hobbies, it can actually be totally fine. "Fights about different opinions on things are quite common," as Rosalind Sedacca, CLC, Dating and Relationship Coach, tells Bustle. "We all have opinions, and heated disagreements are par for the course in a relationship. " So feel free to disagree and enjoy the alone time that you get while they go watch that weird AF TV show. Again.
3. The "Having Different Communication Needs" Struggle
Communication is so important in a relationship — but it might take a while to get it right. Some people want to talk every couple of hours, while others won't message back for hours at a time. "There’s a fine line between being incommunicado versus feeling like you’re on parole," Jane Reardon, licensed therapist and founder of RxBreakup, tells Bustle. "Every couple needs to establish the norm for being in touch." Don't be afraid to have a conversation and give yourself some time to figure it out.
4. The "Dry Spell" Struggle
A dry spell can make you worry that the spark has gone out of the relationship, but they're actually really, really normal. "All couples struggle to keep their sex lives interesting and passionate," Jonathan Bennett, dating and relationships expert at Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. "If you’re going through a dry spell, as long as it’s not a trend, realize that you’re normal!"
Don't feel embarrassed, just keep touching base with your partner and working through it.
5. The "Jealousy" Struggle
Jealousy is very difficult to control. It's also easy to feel ashamed about it, because we often know that it's irrational. "It’s natural to get jealous when you’re in a relationship," Bennett says. "All couples go through it to a degree. The key to overcoming it is to communicate and build trust so that you can rationally work through what can ultimately be irrational feelings." As long as you can admit that the feelings are irrational (when they are, of course) and not let it affect your relationship, you're OK.
6. The "Complacency" Struggle
Feel like the life has gone out of your relationship? This can be a worrying struggle but, the truth is, so many of us have been there. We stop making the effort we should and it all starts to feel a little pedestrian. The good news? It's so easy to change. "This behavior is fixable," Reardon says. "By talking it through and having the willingness the make the relationship the priority, compromise can be reached, schedules adjusted, and the problems will be solved." Actually going on date nights, planning a few gifts and surprises, a weekend trip — there are so many ways to shake off a relationship rut.
7. The "Chores" Struggle
You may feel so old and boring when you start to get stressed or disagree about chores, but it happens. "[A] common argument is accusing the other person of not helping out enough, which often stems from feeling unappreciated for the ways you contribute," Brianna Rader, relationship and sex educator and founder of the Juicebox Sex & Relationship App, tells Bustle. "The need to feel appreciated like a valued member of the tribe or family is incredibly important... Getting out of the habit of keeping score and thanking your partner periodically for taking out the trash or running an errands goes a long way in a relationship." If you need to, having set roles can make a difference.
8. The "Time Scheduling" Struggle
If you feel like you and your partner just don't see each other enough anymore, remember that it's a problem so many of us have had. "This can be frustrating and cause resentment in a relationship, even though it’s nobody’s fault," Caleb Backe, health and wellness expert at Maple Holistics, tells Bustle. "Sometimes it’s worthwhile for couples to cut back on work or other commitments to devote more time to their relationship."
9. The "Other Stress" Struggle
Fun fact: We live in a very stressful society. "People often report feeling 'overwhelmed.' They are trying to balance multiple tasks, and experience an immense amount of pressure trying to 'do it all.," Dr. Inger Burnett-Zeigler, a practicing psychiatrist at the Asher Center for the Study and Treatment of Depressive Disorders, and assistant professor at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, tells Bustle.
If you find yourself taking that stress out on your partner, well, it's not a good look. But try not to beat yourself up about it. Build in some time for self-care and focus on getting happy, so you can be a better partner.
10. The "Family" Struggle
You may feel like your partner's family should be just like your own. You want so badly for it to click into place and feel embarrassed if that doesn't happen. But the truth is, it's OK if you don't love your partner's family or they're not just like yours.
"Remember your partner and how you feel about them at any moment that you want to respond negatively about their parents," relationship coach and founder of Maze of Love, Chris Armstrong, tells Bustle. "This is not about the parents, it's about your partner." Keep the focus on them.
11. The "Doubts" Struggle
Finally, if you're having second thoughts or doubts about the relationship, that's nothing to be ashamed about. "Even if you’re deeply in love with your partner, it’s perfectly normal to occasionally question your relationship," Jonathan Bennett, Dating/Relationship Coach and Owner of The Popular Man, tells Bustle. "Everyone has doubts from time to time, whether it’s about the future of the relationship or if your partner truly is 'the one.' As long as the doubts aren’t lingering and constant, they're [OK] and even healthy." So don't overthink them — doubts here and there mean you're a thoughtful person, not a bad partner.
Having struggles in a relationship isn't abnormal — so they shouldn't make you doubt your relationship or feel like you're not doing right by your partner. Give yourself room to struggle and room to grow. The most important thing is that you communicate and work through them.