Tavistock Relationships, the internationally renowned charity providing couple therapy, training and research, has 120 professionals providing over 20,000 therapy sessions each year. The organisation, Tavistock Relationships, reflects on the some of the most common issues facing couples today.
By Pardis Samiee
The couple relationship has always been complicated, with each individual bringing to the table a myriad of conscious and unconscious hopes and desires.
In the 21st century, changes affecting gender roles and sexual identity, a greater willingness to talk about emotions, the influence of social media, the availability of sexual content on the internet, has meant that people are grappling with ever more questions about what it means to be in a ‘good enough’ relationship, or to have a ‘good enough sex’.
As an organisation offering expert relationship therapy with over 70 years of experience, over the years we have seen thousands of couples and individuals presenting with a variety of problems. Although every couple is different, there are common themes people are struggling with. Some are age-old, while others are newer challenges for couples to deal with.
Here’s a list of the Top 9 of the most common relationship issues:
1. Money - couples often argue over finances and how to spend money. Frequently one partner is more inclined to spend, while the other is more cautious and keen to save money.
2. The domestic battle ground - the division of domestic tasks in general often creates conflict, with one person often feeling they are carrying an unequal burden. For example, who cooks the evening meal and who takes out the bins. The lockdowns have accentuated this issue for many couples, with home schooling added into the mix of responsibilities to share.
3. Space - There’s also often conflict around space in the relationship, and this has been accentuated by the lockdowns. Finding a balance between individual pursuits, work, friendships, couple and family time needs constant renegotiation for couples.
4. Family – the problems described by Harry and Meghan highlight the experience of many couples who find it hard to cope with each other’s families. From criticisms over parenting styles, to how much family/in-law time is reasonable, there’s usually a lot to manage emotionally here. And issues from our original family upbringing can get projected onto our partners or children, causing conflict.
5. One partner thinks they know best – from day to day domestic tasks, to parenting styles, if one partner is not open to listening or compromising, and always thinks they know best, it can make the relationship very unbalanced and difficult. It’s so important to listen to and respect each other’s views.
6. Sex - couples often argue about sex, for example with one partner looking for much more regular sex than the other is prepared to give. Unrealistic expectations are a common theme, either deriving from watching pornography online or general perceptions promoted through films and television, where couples have amazing sex lives.
7. Communication - couples frequently have different ways of communicating. Some people like to sort out issues straight away, even it if means having a row. While others want time to think about things, and then have a quiet conversation about it, hoping to avoid conflict. Some people find it hard to talk about what’s worrying them in the relationship, and there can be a lingering resentment over something, which one day reaches a boiling point that is hard to recover from.
8. Addiction – whether its alcohol, drugs, gambling or porn, addiction is a difficult issue for many couples. Along with this comes disconnection from the other’s feelings, chaos, manipulation, egocentricity and sometimes cruelty. There are lots of places people can seek support for addiction issues, but the damaging impact on their closest relationships will often need addressing as well.
9. Mental health – the rise in depression, anxiety and other mental health issues in our society wreaks havoc on our relationships. Stress is often a problem, and if it isn’t managed, it can cause difficulties in functioning and in our relationships.
For more information about relationship support, visit www.tavistockrelationships.org or call 0207 380 1960