Relationship Issues

Your relationship with your intimate partner is probably the most important relationship in your life. In recent times, the expectations on intimate relationship have increased. Most people desire a partner who is any combination of companion, friend, sexual partner, parent, earner, cook, cleaner, psychologist, personal defender, handyman etc. Of course, it is impossible to fulfil all of these roles. It is very normal to become jaded and disillusioned after spending years with the same partner. The reality is that no one is perfect, and as time progresses, it is common for your partner’s imperfections to become more and more apparent and more and more grating.

In heterosexual pairings, new challenges have arisen as women have become better educated, more independent and more likely to work outside of the home. These new realities have led to changes in how couples and families function. Most parents model their new family on their family of origin. Likewise, couples often have a tendency to model their role in a relationship on their same gendered parent. Such playing out of old roles in new socio-cultural-economic circumstances can lead to tension and resentment.

Almost every relationship will hold at least one unspoken resentment. Resentments occur when one partner’s behaviour does not meet the other partner’s expectations. Common resentments are related to share of work or of income, spending of money, differing expectations around sex and affection, perceived failure to fulfil gender roles and inconsistency between words and action. Often resentments are left unspoken as the partner who raises the problem is scapegoated as being the partner with the problem. Other times, both partners know that they are not perfect, and so rather than address resentments, they remain complicitly silent out of fear of being revealed to be imperfect. Yet other times, the resentments are always near the surface, being played out in angry exchanges. In these cases, it is the aggressive communication style that may prevent the resentments from being resolved.

Deeper relationship difficulties can be related to fear of abandonment or mistrust and jealousy. It is quite common for people experiencing pervasive mistrust and abandonment fears to have experienced a troublesome attachment experience with a care-giver when young. In such cases it is important to address the underlying fears. On the other hand, some people have been betrayed more recently, even by their current partner. It is important to validate the fears and insecurities of the betrayed individual. Ultimately however, acceptance of our own vulnerability is needed. Good relationships are those in which both parties feel free to express a level of vulnerability. Opening oneself to a deeper, more fulfilling connection means opening oneself to the pain of possible rejection and loss. Learning how to have appropriate boundaries within a relationship is finding the balance between emotional openness and protection.

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102-106 Boyce Rd
Maroubra Junction, NSW 2035
(02) 8958 2585

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