Common relationship problems

Having it out with your partner from time to time is a sign of a healthy relationship. It means that you’re not afraid to disagree. But what happens when you’re constantly arguing? Or when they just aren’t listening to you? Here are some common relationship problems and our advice for how to help fix them.

A young couple are talking about common relationship problems. This is a full-body image.

First love ending

Very frequently, when people are in a first relationship they believe it will go on forever. Often it feels very special and magical. So, even if you know that – statistically – first-love is unlikely to last, it can be a terrible blow when it doesn’t. However, it’s important to remember that if your first love ends, you can still treasure its memory for the rest of your life. The experience will also help you move on and find something even better in the future.

Loving someone but not being ‘in love’ with them

The shift towards complacency (for lack of a better term) that happens in long term relationships is pretty natural. Still, it’s understandable why it can worry people. You may feel like your relationship is no good just because you’re no longer rendered speechless by the sight of your significant other or constantly post cute photos together on social media

But what you have to remember is that the first stages of being ‘in love’ are so intense that it’s almost impossible to maintain! After a while, you’re bound to start spending more time concentrating on your job or seeing your friends more alongside quality time and date nights with your partner. Honestly, this is how a healthy relationship should work. It genuinely doesn’t mean that your relationship has passed its sell-by date, just that you’re more comfortable with each other.

Relationship problems stemming from having your first baby

Research shows that the roughest time for a relationship is around the time your first baby arrives. And that even if the relationship doesn’t end for another 20 years, the root of its problems can usually be traced back to those stressful few months surrounding the first child’s birth. 

We’re not for ONE SECOND saying that the baby is responsible for any of those problems. Just that the challenges a couple faces during that time really define whether they can make it in the long run.

Of course loads of young parents stay happy and enjoy their babies. However, it’s also worth realising that this is a difficult time. That’s why there’s no shame in seeking some help from a counsellor, GP or health visitor before your relationship problems get out of hand.

Sexual problems

Lots of couples have issues regarding sexual compatibility. For example, one of you finds it hurts, one wants it more than the other or one can’t have an orgasm. Just know that these problems can be overcome. We have several articles that may help in our ‘having sex’ resources here. Here are a few that might be worth a read:

And it also wouldn’t hurt to see a sex therapist, which you can find out more here.

How to avoid common relationship problems

If your relationship is on the rocks, there are a few things you can do to try to resolve the conflicts before getting a counsellor involved. A few tips for avoiding arguments in future are:

  • Never have an important discussion or row after 9pm. Chances are that you’ll be tired or boozed, or both – you’ll solve your differences much better and much more coherently in the morning.
  • If one person in the relationship is holding something back, isn’t good at talking, or feels they get interrupted all the time and/or shouted down, then it’s worth working to the 10-minute rule. This means that you sit down together to discuss things calmly. You each have ten minutes of uninterrupted talking time to put your case. During this time no one can interrupt, swear, shout, or leave. Essentially, you just talk when it’s your turn, and listen when it’s not. If you need another 10 minutes each, then have it. Just make sure it doesn’t turn into one of those endless conversations where you’re both going around in circles.
  • Try to be pleasant and respectful to each other even if things aren’t going great. A smile and a thank you when appropriate’ll help keep things civilised.

When to consider relationship therapy

Most therapists will tell you that couples who fight tend to come for therapy as a last resort. Unfortunately, this means that at least one of the partners is past caring. So, do seriously consider therapy while both of you are still invested in saving the relationship, especially if you’re facing less-than-common relationship problems, such as:

  • One of you is very insecure, clingy or jealous and this is ruining the relationship;
  • You’re both moody with each other most of the time;
  • One or both of you can’t discuss feelings with the other;
  • Discussions always seem to turn into rows;
  • One or other of you is unhappy a majority of the time;
  • Your sex life is non-existent (for non-medically related reasons).

How much does relationship therapy cost?

Free: Youth Access is an umbrella organisation for counselling centres all over the UK. They should be able to tell you if there’s any free relationship counselling in your area. It’s always worth considering Brook as well. Although most of their work is about contraception and sex problems, they can sometimes help with relationship issues too. Plus, this help is free.

Low-cost therapy: Relate, who are the main relationship agency, have a sliding scale of charges. This is largely dependent on a client’s means, usually ranging between £5 and £40. And nowadays, Relate offer online, email or telephone counselling as well as face-to-face. In case you’re interested, their phone number is 0300 100 1234.

Private therapy: Obviously, if you go to a private therapist, you have a lot more choice of who you see and when. But you’re probably talking about shelling out at least £40 per hour. Usually, a great deal more than that. You should also be wary about going to a generic counsellor. Of course, you might strike lucky and get someone brilliant even if they’re not a relationship or marriage and family therapist. But your best bet is to go to someone who is properly trained and accredited with the College for Sexual and Relationship Therapy (COSRT). That way you can be sure that you’re getting solid and informed advice.

Next Steps

  • Relate is an affordable relationship and sex counselling service. 0300 100 1234
  • Relate offers advice on the most common relationship problems here.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

By Nishika Melwani

Updated on 17-Jun-2022