It's the rare couple that doesn't run into a few bumps in the road. If you recognize ahead of time, though, what those relationship problems might be, you'll have a much better chance of getting past them.
Marriage and family therapist Mitch Temple, author of The Marriage Turnaround, says that in spite of the fact that every relationship has its ups and downs, successful couples have learned how to manage them and keep their love life going. They gain success in marriage by hanging in there, tackling problems, and learning how to maneuver through the complex issues of everyday life. Many do this by reading self-help books and articles, attending seminars, going to counseling, observing other successful couples, or simply using trial and error.
By Ty Wenger
Fifteen years ago, I found myself in a romantic pickle: Cheryl, a woman I
had been dating for about three months, was nearing her 25th birthday. The
birthday gift in any three-month-old relationship is a dicey one, and I
deliberated over it for weeks. Too big too soon and it could look like I was
trying too hard. Too little and I might appear indifferent. Too romantic and
I'd run the risk of setting the bar too high.
And so it was with great enthusiasm that I finally unveiled...
All relationship problems stem from poor communication skills, according to Elaine Fantle Shimberg, author of Blending Families. "You can't communicate while you're checking your BlackBerry, watching TV, or flipping through the sports section," she says.
Make an actual appointment with each other, Shimberg says. If you live together, put the cell phones on vibrate, put the kids to bed, and let voicemail pick up your calls.
If you can't "communicate" without raising your voices, go to a public spot like the library, park, or restaurant where you'd be embarrassed if anyone saw you screaming.
Set up some rules -- like not interrupting until the other is through or banning phrases such as "You always ..." or "You never ...."
Use body language to show you are listening. Don’t doodle, look at your watch, or pick at your nails. Nod so the other person knows you're getting the message, and rephrase if you need to. For instance, say, "What I hear you saying is that you feel as though you have more chores at home, even though we're both working." If you're right, the other can confirm. If what the other person really meant was, hey, you're a slob and you create more work for me by having to pick up after you, he or she can say so, but in a nicer way.
Relationship Problem: Sex
Even partners who love each other can be incompatible sexually. Mary Jo Fay, author of Please Dear, Not Tonight, says a lack of sexual self-awareness and education compounds these problems. Yet, having sex is one of the last things you should be giving up, Fay says. "Sex," she says, "brings us closer together, releases hormones that help our bodies both physically and mentally, and keeps the chemistry of a healthy couple healthy."
Plan, plan, plan. Fay suggests making an appointment, but not necessarily at night when everyone is tired. Maybe during the baby's Saturday afternoon nap or a "before-work quickie." Ask friends or family to take the kids every other Friday night for a sleepover. "When sex is on the calendar, it increases your anticipation," Fay says, adding that mixing things up a bit can increase your sexual enjoyment as well. Why not have sex in the kitchen? Sex by the fire? Sex standing up in the hallway?
California psychotherapist Allison Cohen suggests learning what truly turns you and your partner on by each of you coming up with a personal "Sexy List." Swap the lists and use them to create more scenarios that turn you both on.
If your sexual relationship problems can't be resolved on your own, Fay recommends consulting a qualified sex therapist to help you both address and resolve your issues.