At some point in our lives, we will all experience family or relationship difficulties. This is usually a very stressful time for those involved. Seeking help when needed can prevent difficulties from leading to a breakdown in the relationship or the family.
What contributes to family and relationship difficulties?
Many factors can contribute to family and relationship difficulties. Some of these include: lack of respect or trust in the relationship, loss of employment, financial strain, birth of a new baby, infertility, physical injury, parenting decisions, death of a loved one, homelessness, gambling and other addictions to alcohol or drugs or inability to resolve conflict or lack of support.
Sometimes, this may lead to crisis point. Signs that a relationship is in crisis:
- When one or both partners are highly critical of the other.
- An absence of affection and intimacy in the relationship.
- When there is contempt in the relationship. This includes insults and name calling, mockery or sarcasm.
- Escalating or unresolved conflict in the relationship including physical conflict.
- When one party becomes defensive or acts as a victim in the relationship rather than accepting responsibility for their behavior.
- Withdrawal from the relationship as a way to avoid conflict.
How to improve your relationship?
Whether you are experiencing minor conflict or are at the stage of the relationship crisis, there are things you can do to improve your relationship with your partner or another family member including:
- Improve communication
Work on developing a healthy communication style with your partner and within the family. Being able to express your needs effectively and to allow the other person to express their needs is a key component of healthy communication.
Let your partner know you are listening to them and take responsibility for things within your control and agree on a plan together.
- Manage conflict
We need to learn how to handle conflict in the relationship. Understanding and developing yourself and how you respond to conflict can assist in improving the relationship. Factors that influence how you respond to conflict include cultural and religious beliefs, your personality type, your childhood experiences, the support you have available to you as a family.
- Plan time together as a family
Shared experiences increase the feeling of connectedness in a relationship. Organizing regular activities together that you can enjoy is important for promoting a positive view of the relationship.
- Take time out for yourself
It is important to be able to take care of your own needs and enjoy time alone. This may involve spending time with friends, exercising, or engaging in a favorite activity.
- Get support when you need it
Families need to have the tools and support to manage in times of crisis. Support may come from extended family and friends and people in the local community. Professional support services including relationship and family counseling can assist you to work through a relationship breakdown and support you with issues that might be impacting the relationship in times of homelessness, financial crisis or following a natural disaster.