Saturday, August 6, 2011

... abs-cbn interview on the top 3 relationship problems of couples ... (life coach, psychotherapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, philippines)

Just by virtue of being imperfect humans, people are going to experience conflict in their relationships.

Of course, in the beginning of a relationship, partners are usually madly in love with each other. In this phase called “infatuation,” love is indeed blind and partners are oblivious to each other’s flaws and faults. However, as the passion of the relationship fades, reality sets in and that’s when the differences become more apparent.

As a counselor and psychologist, clients consult me for all sorts of relationship problems. The most common of these problems would be constant quarrelling, lack of intimacy, and infidelity. These 3 problems are undoubtedly interrelated but can also exist independently. Let’s discuss each of these problems in greater detail.

Constant quarrelling between partners is a combination of many factors: unrealistic expectations and demands, impatience, lack of cooperation, and poor conflict resolution skills. Obviously, partners with high or unrealistic expectations are just setting themselves up for disappointment and frustration. Those who are demanding simply get impatient waiting for their partners to comply. No amount of nagging, cajoling, and arguing is going to work on a person who doesn’t want to cooperate or to change.

One rule of thumb is this: If you’ve told your partner 3 times to do something, and it still hasn’t been done, then it’s most likely against his or her will to do it. It would be wise for the demanding partner to lower or modify his or her expectations rather than to force the issue.

Constant quarrelling is also aggravated by poor conflict resolution skills. Partners have to learn how to fight fairly. That means, keeping heads cool and avoiding emotional outbursts. It’s always good to solve problems rationally, pro-actively, and strategically because emotions simply cloud the problem-solving process. Thus, if you feel the anger rising, it’s best for both of you to get a 20 minute cool-down break before resuming your discussion.

Lack of intimacy is another common relational problem. With this problem, I am referring not only to sexual intimacy or physical affection but also to emotional connection. This can happen because the intensity of passion naturally subsides as the relationship gets “older.” Moreover, as disappointment, frustrations, and resentments build over the years, there is a natural tendency to create emotional space between each other. The one who gets most affected is the partner who is more emotionally needy. The other partner gets affected when the needy partner starts demanding that his or her emotional needs be met.

The lesson here is to resolve relationship problems rather than sweep them under the rug. Otherwise the problem just festers and becomes a breeding ground for more problems.

The third common problem in relationships is infidelity. This used to predominantly be a male phenomenon but these days, more and more women are presenting the problem. Again, there are many reasons for partners to be unfaithful. Sometimes, it simply is a manifestation of lust. After all, we are still part of the animal world and lust serves us the biological purpose of procreation so that our species survives and proliferates.

Infidelity could also be a substitute for getting one’s sexual and emotional needs met when the partner is unwilling or deficient. Furthermore, infidelity could be used as a form of retaliation, or to end a failing relationship.

Infidelity is best prevented by sticking to a vow of faithfulness and by a commitment to flee from temptation. This vow and commitment should be made once the relationship is formalized. Partners have to realize and constantly remember that a formal relationship curtails one's freedom to fool around and to play around.

Despite the occurrence of these problems, the good news for couples is that there is always hope and help available. If couples are unable to resolve their problems, then it is important to get relationship counselling. A neutral, objective, and empathic mediator can help couples to get over the hump of their relationship crisis. Through relationship counselling, couples work at resolving their differences with the goal of working towards a harmonious, loving, and respectful relationship.

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