I hate to break it to ya – ALL couples deal with these stressors

We may not feel the most confident about our relationship, especially when there’s tension or conflict. And, to make matters worse, we may not feel comfortable talking about our relationship issues. If it’s worth anything, I can guarantee your neighbor, friend, sibling, and yep – parents – have most likely dealt with their fair share of stress. While every couple will face some unique conflict/concerns, it’s safe to say that most, if not all, couples may deal with some of these stressors:

  •  In-laws. This is a tough one! If you and are partner are relatively close to immediate family (especially geographically) chances are you spend time disagreeing about how to spend time. From planning whose side to spend holidays with, to navigating boundaries with each family, it can be a highly stressful & often ongoing conflict for couples. A great place to start is to figure out what’s coming up for each partner (values, points of view, boundary issues) and work together to find a solution. You and are partner are one machine consisting of two parts, so it’s important to consider both sides. Couples counseling can help offer insight to the problem & help each partner identify better ways to respond to the problem & difficult family members. 

  • Sex/intimacy. This is inevitable. No matter how long you’ve been together this is bound to be a topic that will resurface in many ways. Often times we typically only think of intercourse and while that is extremely important, it’s not end-all-be-all. There are numerous ways couples build and maintain intimacy, and also lose it. It’s important to remain connected in this way & lovingly communicate your needs/wants/interests. 

  • Transitions. This one is a biggie. Any type of transition, moving, new job, losing job, children, loss of a loved one, etc. stirs up A LOT. Not many of us truly enjoy change but when it may come unexpectedly, it’s extremely challenging to be thrown off your normal routine. If you or your partner are facing a transition find a way to communicate your reactions and concerns. If your partner is facing a transition it will inevitably impact you, so check in with yourself about how it’s affecting you and what you may need from your partner – but be mindful and sensitive to their capacity to meet your needs during a time of difficult transition. Given the sensitivity and nature of most transitions, it’s possible they may not be able to meet your needs. Nonetheless, keep communication open and support at the forefront.

 Couples therapy can be a great, shared space for you and your partner to talk freely about challenges and accomplishments as a couple. By navigating difficult topics together you may find a rhythm that helps to bring you closer even during stressful times – yes, that’s possible!

Read more on this topic in my recent Bustle feature here.