We all know that relationships aren’t always easy, but people have the tendency to overfocus on the ‘big stuff’ when we start to analyze what’s going wrong in a particular relationship. Politics, background, values — all these things come into the relationship mix, of course — but what about the small stuff?
Sleeping and eating habits, favorite television shows, even taste in interior design, can all lead to recurring relationship conflict. In fact, small things can become really, really big things in relationships as time goes on. Repetitive behavior and actions can really wear a relationship down and push people into bad relationship patterns.
Here are some ‘little’ things that can have a negative impact on your relationship + some fixes to help steer you in the right direction.
Different Energy Patterns
The fact that you’re a night owl and your partner is a morning person may not seem like such a deal-breaker to start with — but over the years, and especially when kids come into the picture — the mismatch of energy peaks and troughs can be taxing for you two to successfully manage.
Energy patterns and levels are hard to shift, and even years of practice may never convert a night owl into a morning person.
Conflict can build up around times when one of you has lower energy levels and is unable to mirror the other one’s enthusiasm. Communication often becomes strained and stilted with clear ‘danger zone’ times when a calm resolution is virtually impossible.
Some things to help you get past this:
- Be curious and get to know your own (and your partner’s) peaks and troughs — and realize that they may change over time. Keep these in mind when planning in quality time — an occasional morning date might help one of you express themselves more clearly
- Discuss your patterns openly with your immediate family — make concessions, but don’t compromise too much
- Have clear ground rules based on your energy patterns (no stressful conversations after 10 at night for example).
Energy levels can also have a big impact on a couple’s sex life.
Sex is an important part of any relationship, but even couples with great sex lives can be impacted by the shifting sands of libidos.
Work stress, aging, even some medication can lead to issues in the bedroom.
Erectile dysfunction and intimate dryness caused by aging is a common source of tension in the bedroom — though they are both pretty straightforward to fix. Open discussions and encouraging words can help couples seek medical and professional help together.
And even though erectile dysfunction has affordable over-the-counter treatment options (the most popular being dubbed ‘the weekend pill’ read patient experiences) — simply taking a pill may not always be the answer.
Couples who normally have great sex lives, but are experiencing unusual dry spells or sudden sexual incompatibility, should focus on communication as a way to build bridges and help unpack any underlying emotional or psychological issues.
Are your partner’s family really into loud party games, whereas your family tends to enjoy a quiet night in front of the TV?
Though couples often come together to create their own past-times and share hobbies, patterns learned in childhood can be hard to kick — and may become more entrenched with age.
These conflicts particularly tend to escalate if you decide to have children and have to re-create your own family environment.
- Make a list of how you would both like to spend time together (and apart) and compare and contrast — you will probably learn a lot from this simple exercise
- Respect your partner’s boundaries and don’t force activities on them that they don’t want to do
- Having said that, a certain level of compromise is healthy and expected. Try to combine favorite past-times to create new ones
- You don’t always have to visit each other’s families together — in fact, it can be good to get some quality ‘alone time’ with your family.
Does one of you like to chew their food slowly and is more of a mindful, careful cook in the kitchen? Whereas the other one likes to grab fast food on the go and chow down?
Food can be an emotional topic that often brings out feelings of guilt and inadequacy. Over the years, differing eating habits and attitudes toward food can lead to relationship conflict and insecurities.
- Be careful about the language you use around food — try to avoid anything that sounds like guilt or shame
- Avoid harsh statements and be open-minded about how your partner eats — it could be cultural
- Support your partner’s positive relationship with food and don’t judge
- To an extent, you can’t influence your partner too much when it comes to food. Learn to love and let go if a habit of theirs happens to annoy you.
Even little things can start to matter when they build up. Be honest with your partner and keep an open mind when it comes to their ‘quirks’ and you will be on a positive path together.