7 Major Relationship Problems That Can Get Better Over Time And Ones That Won't
Everyone has the potential to grow and change, so when it comes to common, long-term relationship problems, it's important to keep in mind that pretty much any issue can be worked on — especially if you and your partner are willing to put in the time and effort. "If both partners are on the same page and can support each other through difficult times, then typically most problems can be addressed," professional counselor Heidi McBain, MA, LMFT, LPC, RPT tells Bustle.
That said, there are a few types of relationship problems that tend to stick around, regardless of the passage of time or effort applied towards fixing them. Usually, these are rooted in unhealthy relationship dynamics, character flaws, and/or clashing personality types. And when that's the case, it's up to you to figure out whether or not the relationship is still worth it.
There are also long-standing problems that aren't technically toxic, but in many ways are just as upsetting. Think along the lines of family problems, such as parents or relatives that won't let you and your partner live your lives. Sure, you can set up boundaries, but problems like these tend to stick around, creating the potential for stress for years and years.
With communication, most issues can be addressed, and will improve with time. But experts say that's not always the case. Here are a few relationship issues that tend to get better with time, versus ones that are trickier to fix.
1. Arguing About Money
In the early days (and years) of a relationship, it's not uncommon for couples to argue about money as they adjust to each other's different spending habits. And this is especially true for younger couples, who may still be finding their way financially.
"Typically people who are young and early into their relationship may have money issues and money arguments," says McBain. "However, if they set up a savings system early ... then they are typically more financially secure the older they get, which can be one less stressor in their relationship."
So that's one way money issues can go away. But it's also possible for couples to fix these issues early on by establishing a budget, and being super honest with each other about income, old bills, debts, etc. The more honest you are, the less likely you are to fight, and the healthier your monetary lives will be.
2. Having Insecurities & Trust Issues
Before you really know where you stand in a relationship, it's not uncommon to feel insecure. You might not have an official title yet, or you may be coming into this new relationship with baggage from your last one. But it is possible to move past feelings of insecurity, and establish trust in a relationship — especially if you're open about it.
"When an insecurely attached person helps to explain their style to their securely attached partner, the latter can actually do things to reassure their partner, rather than fault their partner for being needy and difficult," psychotherapist and life coach Dr. Perpetua Neo tells Bustle. "Over time, that will help to regulate the insecurely-attached partner's nervous system, and change the dynamics of the relationship for the better."
In other words, if you or your partner are worried about being cheated on or abandoned — or whatever the case may be — let each other know. While it may be an issue that you'll have to work on, being honest with your partner about your insecurities will allow them to better support you, and then you can both move past it.
3. Struggling With Healthy Communication
There aren't very many couples who know how to communicate effectively right off the bat. And that's why many of them have mountains of misunderstandings, and big ol' piles of ongoing arguments.
But communication problems can be fixed, if and when you both make them a priority. "Relationship problems having to do with communication and communication styles can be worked on and are fixable," relationship expert Brooke Wise, of Wise Matchmaking, tells Bustle. "For example, if [they are] a texter and you cannot text during the day because of your work and are more of a phone person, that can be figured out as the two of you get to know each other better."
And even more serious communication problems — such as mismatched arguing styles — can be worked on, too. It's just a matter of being honest with each other, and making an effort to change.
4. Not Understanding Each Other's Boundaries
Let's say you're an introvert who craves a ton of alone time, while your partner is an extrovert, and you keep butting heads as a result. When that's the case, one or both of you may end up feeling neglected, Amica Graber, a relationship expert from TruthFinder, tells Bustle. Or you might simply feel like you don't always "get" each other.
This is a fairly common issue early on in relationships, but it doesn't have to be permanent. Establishing healthy boundaries, and being honest about what you need in the relationship can mean figuring out how to get your needs met, and thus better understanding each other.
5. Being Habitually Unfaithful
As far as problems that don't get better, infidelity is often at the top of the list. Of course, everyone has the potential to overcome habitual cheating, and create a more trusting relationship. But many experts agree it can be a tough pattern to break.
"Some couples can survive a one-time mistake — especially if it happens in the very beginning stages of courtship when they relationship is still undefined. But it’s another story altogether when it comes to a chronic cheater," Graber says. "Habitual cheaters don’t change. Repetitive cheating is often a symptom of a greater underlying issue, like a narcissistic personality disorder, and it communicates clearly that they don’t value you." It many cases like these, it may be healthier to move on, and find a partner who can better meet your needs.
6. Struggling With Family Problems
Once a family member decides they have a problem with your relationship, it can create a toxic situation that's difficult to shake. Take, for example, an in-law who's always in your business, relationship counselor Raffi Bilek, LCSW-C, director of the Baltimore Therapy Center tells Bustle. "[They] will continue to be there — increasingly so, in fact — until boundaries are set and maintained," Bilek says.
Of course, this doesn't have to end a relationship, since there's always the option of having less contact if boundaries continue to be ignored. But often, when it comes to meddling families, they'll continue to meddle for decades to come, and it can cause a lot of stress.
7. Fighting In A Toxic Way
All couples can learn how to fight in a healthier way, but if it's been years and you two still fight like cats and dogs, it may be an issue worth looking into. "Issues that trigger one of you emotionally will continue to do so, and you will continue to fight about them unless you resolve them," say Bilek. "Don't shove them under the rug; talk them out, and get professional help doing so if you don't know how to do it on your own." After you've tried that, if things still aren't changing, it may be best to move on.
If there are enough good qualities to consider staying in a relationship, then don't give up too easily. Every relationship problem should be addressed, and worked on, before throwing in the towel. But if something continues to be a problem, it may be a sign that it's an unfixable issue.