How Do We Get Closer As A Couple? 9 Problems That Can Bring You Together, According To Experts
One of the benefits of going through a problem as a couple is that, sometimes, you get to come out the other side feeling more connected. Whether it's an issue that originated on the inside between the two of you, or an external problem, it can teach you a lot. And that can, in turn, lead to a stronger relationship.
While you won't want to go out seeking problems, you can look for the silver lining if and when they occur. Basically, "when people endure tough times together, it can create deep bonds," Jonathan Bennett, relationship and dating expert at Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. You might come out of it with a deeper appreciation for each other, for instance, or figure out ways to have better communication.
The key to learning from a problem, and gaining one of these benefits, is to approach it as a team. You'll want to "work together and see yourself as a partnership," Bennett says. "When you start working against each other and assigning blame, you’re no longer acting as a couple, but driving a wedge in the relationship."
With that in mind, read on below for a few problems you might encounter that experts say can result in you and your partner feeling a lot closer.
1. Helping Each Other Through An Illness
"At some point in a long-term relationship, each partner will have to take turns being the caretaker and the one in need of being cared for," Kara Lissy, LCSW, a psychotherapist specializing in relationships, tells Bustle. This might mean sitting in long doctor's appointments, or letting each other vent when times get tough — things that aren't always easy to do.
But, as Lissy says, these moments can create a "wonderful opportunity for intimacy and important conversations about what you and/or your partner need in order to feel cared for." And that can have a positive impact on the rest of your relationship.
2. Going Through A Big Transition
"Big changes such as a move, a career change, or going back to school can certainly bring up tension," Lissy says. You may not know how to deal with these moments, especially since they can be complicated and layered. Where will you live? Who will keep their job? Is it the right thing to do?
You'll need to talk about these things, and you may have some arguments along the way. But this issue can also open the door to chats about your values and long-term goals. Not ot mention, "going through a transition as a unified front," Lissy says, "can strengthen the commitment you have to one another."
3. Taking A Break
You might find that, at some point in your relationship, one or both of you feels like they need to take a break. And while that can be scary and stressful, this problem might just result in a stronger connection down the road, if you decide to get back together.
"Although not ideal for any relationship, time apart can nonetheless make both partners see the good in each other," Bennett says. "And, it can help them realize how much they miss being together."
4. Having Problems In Bed
"Sexual problems can be very tough in any relationship, whether it involves arguments about style and frequency or an inability to perform," Bennett says. "But, it can also spur a couple to have serious conversations about sex to remedy the situation."
While it can be tough, talking about sex — including what you both want, what you want to try, etc. — can mean getting through this problem, and feeling stronger. After all, you won't have to guess any more, or feel disappointed, or misunderstood. Once it's out in the air, Bennett says, "this can lead to an even better sex life and closer relationship."
5. Losing A Job
"Major events like a job loss [...] can test a couple’s resolve to stay together," Bennett says. This situation can easily result in arguments about money, which is something that has the potential to drive you apart. You might also find yourselves on edge or placing blame, due to stress.
"However, if both partners can stick together and support each other," Bennett says, "they can emerge from the crisis with an even deeper bond." This will require lots of support and communication, as well as trust that you're both doing whatever you can to make this tricky situation easier on each other.
6. Not Getting Along With Family
"A relationship problem that is all too common is at least one person in the relationship not getting along with their [partner's family]," Michelle Henderson, LMHC, relationship expert and owner of Next Chapter Counseling, tells Bustle. "This can lead to tension at family gatherings and increased conflict with your partner, who may desperately want you to like their family."
If this ends up happening in your relationship, it can help to focus on approaching it in a positive way. "The couples who successfully navigate this are able to validate their partner's point of view," Henderson says, "[and] create a strong couple unit (by putting the relationship first)."
7. Confronting A "Dealbreaker"
"Anything that feels like a 'dealbreaker' — including and maybe especially infidelity — is a way for each member of the couple to get real," Amy K. Bucciere, LCSW, CST, a sex and relationship therapist, tells Bustle.
Obviously, finding out your partner cheated isn't always the ticket to a stronger relationship. But if it happens and you choose to stay together, you may be able to learn from it. And again, look for that silver lining. This may involve going to therapy, talking about boundaries, or working on creating more trust and respect.
As Bucciere says, "It is the necessary growing each has to do in order to resolve the issue [that results in you] feeling closer."
8. Having A Long Distance Relationship
While being in a long distance relationship doesn't mean you'll have problems, it can lead to stress, especially if you didn't choose to be apart, or if that's not how your relationship began.
There is good news, though, in that being far away "teaches you how to remain connected in a big way because you are forced to do so," Susan Trombetti, matchmaker and CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking, tells Bustle. It can mean developing strong communication skills, and doing special things to maintain your bond — things couples who are under the same roof, Trombetti says, may not even know how to do.
9. Struggling With Communication
Communication can be difficult, especially if you and your partner have different ways of thinking or approaching problems. But nothing will bring you closer quite like working through this issue together.
In fact, "overcoming communication problems is the key to fixing other problems," Chris Seiter, a relationship consultant, tells Bustle. "If the couple makes an effort together to communicate and work together, they are not only overcoming one problem but several and managing to problem-proof their relationship for the future."
To work on your communication skills, you can practice listening to each other, you can go to couples therapy, and you can even learn to embrace your differences and appreciate them.
It's really all about how you approach these problems, should they crop up in your relationship. If you do it as a couple, you can get through them, and may even feel closer as a result.