Every relationship has obstacles to overcome. Some of them can be easily solved while others have a tendency to niggle. And niggle. And niggle.
The relationship website eHarmony Australia knows a thing or two about what makes relationships work, having brought together many compatible singles over the years, and the below is some advice for any couples encountering three of the most common relationship problems.
Money issues can be a bit of a minefield in any relationship as they represent deeply held beliefs, often instilled in childhood. They’re also incredibly common, topping a recent list in the Huffington Post.
What does money mean to you?
The key to working through them is firstly to work out what money means to each person:
• Did one of you grow up in a house where every penny was counted, while the other was able to spend more freely?
• Was worth measured solely on a successful career, or were other non-financial pursuits also valued?
Once you’ve worked out how each of you sees money, you can start to take on board each other’s views without becoming frustrated – if you understand the thought process behind your partner’s behaviour, it won’t seem so foreign anymore. And if you can see what drives your own attitudes towards money, you can do work on changing your beliefs for the better.
Talk regularly about money and make sure you’re on the same page. If you’re saving up for a deposit on a house or to pay for a big holiday, set up structures that work for both of you so you can contribute together.
Is a joint account right for you?
A joint account might not work in your everyday lives, but for a particular purpose it might be a good idea. Sit down and come up with some rules and strategies for dealing with your end goal. How much money will each partner contribute to that account? How often? Is it a feasible amount? Make sure you talk about it regularly so you both know what is going on in the household budget.
Who does what in the household is a deeply contested issue within any partnership. If one of you is fiercely house-proud and the other is happy to let cleanliness take a backseat, this issue can spark lots of arguments.
The fact is that compromise is necessary for any relationship so neither person can be dead-set on living in a spotless house or a student hellhole.
Calm and clean(ish)
To stop this niggling on a daily basis, you need to sit down and thrash it out together – minus the heated emotion or yelling about who left their dirty dishes in the sink again.
If you’re the neat freak, decide what you can and can’t live with. But learn to relax about things that aren’t so bad. Set out your rules ahead of time and see what your partner will agree to work on. Keep in mind the C word – compromise is the name of the game for both of you.
Divide and conquer
Once you’ve reached an agreement on the level of cleanliness for the house, divide the chores into lists. Write it all down and commit to it.
• Who will be in charge of what?
• How often does that job need to be done?
Some people aren’t naturally organised or clean, so they may need a bit of help forming new habits. Consider leaving Post-it reminders around the place for the first month or so, such as “Rinse your dishes and stack to the left!” or “Don’t dump shoes here!” It takes 21 days to form a habit, so be consistent and vigilant in the first few weeks.
If all else fails, consider hiring a cleaner! Cleaning services have been saviours for many a relationship and may be well worth the charge.
Are you a social butterfly and devoted to your friends? Or do you value time alone and prefer to see friends on special occasions? There’s no right or wrong: people are just different. But when an extrovert and an introvert are in a relationship together, stress points can appear.
So, if it’s common for one person in a relationship to want to spend more time with friends and family while the other is happier alone, what’s the solution?
Time together, time apart
It’s perfectly fine to go out by yourself to see friends or to decide to have a night in alone. Each partner needs space to do things that make them happy for a healthy relationship to thrive. Make a habit of not always going out together.
It’s a question of trust as well. Foster enough trust, love and security in yourself and your relationship to be able to have nights out without each other. It’s healthy for you both, and your friends will appreciate having you to themselves sometimes too.
All relationships have issues and the above don’t have to be deal breakers – what defines successful relationships is an ability to talk about issues and reach a compromise that works all round.
This post is brought to you by eHarmony Australia.