Solve Relationship Problems

Relationships may develop problems for a variety of reasons, but poor communication is often the reason why some people have a hard time solving these problems. If you are in a relationship that has hit a rough patch, then you may benefit from improving the communication between your partner and yourself. You can also learn how to deal with problems as they arise in order to move past arguments and toward solutions. After things have gotten better, there are things that you can do to ensure that your relationship continues to thrive and grow.


Improving Communication

  1. Schedule time to just talk. When problems start, communication often breaks down and you may notice that you and your partner do not talk as much as you used to. To start improving your communication again, try making little appointments to chat about little things.[1][2][3]
    • For example, you could set aside 15 minutes per morning to sit and tell each other about your plans for the day. Or, you could give your partner a call on his or her lunch break to check in and see how your partner’s day is going.
    • Scheduling time to talk about relationship problems can be useful as well. By setting a time limit for discussing your problem, you may reduce some of the tension in your relationship and get closer to a solution. For example, you could decide to discuss a specific problem from 7-8pm.
    • Keep these conversations as light as possible and avoid discussing anything that might upset your partner during this time. The goal is to get a rapport going again. Of course, if your partner is having a bad day or is feeling stressed about something, listen and be supportive and encouraging.
  2. Discuss problems in a public place. If you and your partner are prone to shouting at each other during arguments, try going to a public place to discuss problem topics. Got to a library, a coffee shop, or the mall to talk through the issue. The knowledge that you may cause a scene if you yell at each other should help you to keep your voices down and have a more civil conversation.[1]
  3. Work on active listening skills. Problems may also arise in relationships if a partner feels like he or she is not being heard. To eliminate this potential problem, practice active listening skills when your partner is talking to you.[1]
    • Make eye contact with your partner when he or she is talking. Do not look away, look at your phone, or anywhere else when your partner is talking to you. Give your partner your full attention.
    • Nod your head and indicate your interest with neutral statements, such as “yes,” “I see,” and “go on.”
    • Rephrase what your partner has just said to make sure that you have understood him or her.
  4. Stick to “I” statements. Making “you” statements may cause your partner to feel as though you are assigning blame. This can lead to defensiveness and even a fight. Therefore, it is important to use “I” statements to let your partner know what is bothering you.[4]
    • For example, instead of saying, “You never make the bed in the morning,” say, “I would really appreciate it if you could make the bed if you get up after I do.”
  5. Express your appreciation for each other. Feeling unappreciated can cause problems in a relationship as well. That is why it is so important to remember to say things like “thank you” and “I appreciate you” as often as possible.[3]
    • For example, if your partner often loads the dishwasher after dinner and tidies up the kitchen, let him or her know that you value these activities. Say something like, “I just want to say thank you for keeping our kitchen so clean and nice. I appreciate that so much.”
  6. Think before you speak. Sometimes an argument may get heated and you may find yourself saying or wanting to say things that are meant to make your partner feel bad about him or herself rather than to solve your problems. If you feel the urge to say something hurtful to your partner, take a moment to stop and think about what the problem is and what you could say to move closer to a solution.[3]
    • For example, instead of calling your partner a mean name or insulting him or her in some other way, identify what you want him or her to do.
  7. Allow your partner to finish speaking before you respond. Interrupting your partner before he or she has finished speaking is also a common cause of problems. If you often interrupt your partner, try to end this habit and allow your partner to finish speaking before you say anything. Doing so will help your partner to feel heard and give you a chance to learn what his or her complaint is all about.[5]
  8. Apologize if you are at fault. Sometimes you will need to apologize in order to move forward with your partner. Try to be honest with yourself and determine if you are at fault and if you need to apologize. If you make an apology, make sure that it is sincere, specific, and expresses what you plan to do to make things right.[5]
    • For example, you might say something like, “I am sorry for not calling you to tell you that I was going to be late. I will try to be more thoughtful in the future.”

Working Towards a Solution

  1. Identify the problem. The first step in solving a specific relationship problem is to figure out what the problem really is. For example, if you and your partner have been arguing a lot lately, try to pinpoint the reason why. It may be different for each of you.[4]
    • For example, you may feel that your partner is not helping out around the house as much as he or she should be, and your partner may feel like you are too demanding. Take some time to think about what is bothering you and have your partner do the same.
  2. Express your needs. Once you have identified the problem, you will need to express how you feel to your partner. When you do so, make sure that you use “I” statements to express your feelings and avoid blaming your partner for the way that you feel.[4]
    • For example, you might say, “I have been feeling overwhelmed by the housework and I could use some more help from you.” Your partner might say something like, “I have been feeling overwhelmed as well because of my work schedule and I feel like you don’t appreciate how hard I work.”
  3. Acknowledge your partner’s feelings. Acknowledging that you have heard your partner and that you understand how he or she feels is a good way to move forward. Avoid getting defensive because this will only lead to an argument and deepening resentment. Instead, let your partner know that you hear and understand.[4]
    • For example, you might say something like, “Okay, I hear what you are saying. I did not realize that you felt that way.”
    • Do not get defensive even if your partner responds to you with a defensive claim, such as “You are always nagging me and you never appreciate how hard I work.” Acknowledge your partner’s feelings and move on.
  4. Make a plan with your partner. Once you have expressed yourselves and acknowledged each other’s feelings, you and your partner will need to come up with a plan to cut down on the frequency of disagreements and the amount of time spent arguing. Try to reach a compromise with your partner so that both of you feel like your needs are being met.[4]
    • For example, if your partner has been feeling unappreciated, then you can promise to acknowledge his or her efforts more often. You might also make it a rule that you will not ask you partner to do anything until he or she has had a chance to unwind a bit. Your partner might then promise you that he or she will be more consistent with certain household chores.
  5. Keep your promises. Once you and your partner have come up with a plan to resolve your issues, make sure that you keep your promises. Otherwise, you may end up in the same place as you were before.[4]
    • For example, if you promised to take out the garbage every night after dinner, make sure that you do so. Otherwise, your partner may start to feel resentful and begin lapsing on his or her promises as well.
  6. Be prepared to repeat these steps. For relationships to work, each partner needs to work on the relationship consistently. Productive, assertive, open, trusting, and respectful communications and using problem solving skills can help in resolving relationship issues. A relationship is always a work in progress, and new challenges will arise. Work with your partner to maintain a healthy, supportive relationship.

Maintaining a Healthy Relationship

  1. Start a date night. Set aside one night per week or at least once per month as a date night for you and your partner. Go out to dinner, see a movie, go for a hike or bike ride, or do whatever you like to do together. Having regular date nights will help to improve your intimacy levels and help to keep things fun as well.[6]
  2. Go away together for a weekend. An occasional weekend getaway is a great way to improve intimacy in a relationship. Try to set aside two weekends per year to get away from your normal routines and just spend some quality time together.[7]
    • You don’t need to go far to get away. Try visiting a nearby city for a couple of nights. Go out to a nice dinner, see a play, or visit some museums together.
  3. Hold hands, hug, and kiss. Physical contact is crucial to maintaining a positive relationship and it can also help to relieve stress. Sex is a great way to maintain a physical bond, but casual physical contact can provide benefits as well.[2]
    • For example, you can hold your partner’s hand while watching a movie, give your partner a kiss before you leave for work, or hug your partner before you go to bed each night.
  4. Give each other space. Having time apart is a good way to keep a relationship fresh and healthy. Make sure that you maintain friendships and other interests so that you do not rely too heavily on your partner. It is important to have a life of your own as well as with your partner. Set aside some time each week to indulge in your own interests and spend time with your friends.[2]
    • For example, you might have a girl’s or guy’s night out once per week, take a class by yourself, or join a special interest group on your own.
  5. Try new things with your partner. To keep growing your relationship, taking up a new hobby together or doing something that is totally new for both of you is a great way to strengthen your bond. Choose something that you both want to do, but that neither one of you has tried before. [2]
    • For example, you could take a gourmet cooking class together, join a local hiking club, or try to learn a new language together.
  6. Consider couples therapy. If you still cannot resolve your relationship problems despite your best efforts, then couples therapy may be the best option. Sometime communication can become so forced and resentment may be so intense that professional help is required. Find a therapist who specializes in couples counseling to get best possible help for you and your partner.[2]


  • Try to be patient. Solving relationship problems can be a long process, especially if the problems have been going on for a while.
  • Remember to be mature. Jumping to conclusions, screaming at one another, and trying to get revenge is not the way to go. This can lead to more issues in the relationship.

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Sources and Citations