Relationships…in the widest sense of the word

Family and relationship problems can occur between partners, spouses, parents, children, siblings, friends and other important people in your life including work colleagues, neighbours and the wider family. All relationships and families go through difficult times and experiencing occasional problems and conflict in personal relationships is normal. However, sometimes these problems can become overwhelming. Signs of family and relationship problems include frequent arguing, disagreements, breakdown in communication, angry outbursts, avoidance and physical conflict.

What are some of the most common family and relationship problems that can being people to counselling?
  • Dealing with addiction within the family or in a partner
  • Dealing with difficult or mentally ill family members or personality clashes
  • Money worries
  • Complicated relationships after separation/divorce, agreements about access arrangements, blending families
  • Parenting teenagers
  • Living far from your family or the opposite – living too close to your family or in-laws and dealing with interference no matter how well-meaning.
  • Sharing chores and other responsibilities fairly.
  • Poor communication.
  • Balancing work and home life.
  • Relationship breakup – support while dating and finding a life partner – making a decision about whether to end a relationship
  • Adjusting to life as a new parent
  • Change in life circumstances (e.g. unemployment, moving house, homelessness, retirement, ageing, health deterioration)
  • Physical health (e.g. illness, chronic pain)
  • Issues relating to sexuality

The impact of family and relationship problems

Relationship problems can be considerably distressing and can lead to:

  • Negative emotions – anger, sadness, anxiety
  • Stress
  • Exhaustion
  • Confusion
  • Feeling isolated, alone or withdrawn
  • Lack of concentration
  • Difficulty eating or sleeping
  • Problems with friends, colleagues or your children
  • Using alcohol or drugs to cope or escape

What helps?

  • Talking about it – communication is the key to making your relationships work. Talking calmly and openly about your problems with your loved ones is the first step to finding a solution.
  • Accepting your differences – even people who are very close sometimes have different ideas, opinions and beliefs. Acknowledging that you may not always agree with your loved ones can help to avoid unnecessary conflict. Sometimes accepting that a person is unlikely to change very much is necessary.
  • Have fun together – even when things are tough, it is important to find time to do things you enjoy with your partner or family.
  • Develop a plan – if your family and relationship problems are mainly due to your circumstances, it can help to work with your family or partner to develop a plan for action that you all agree on. For example, if you are having financial difficulties, it may help to create a family budget. Having a plan can reduce stress and give you and your family common goals to work towards.
  • Get outside help – there may be times when you are not able to solve your family and relationship problems alone and need some external help.

See also: Grieving after the Loss of a Relationship, All you Need to Know about Relationships, Stress and Relationships