Basic Issues Underlying Relationship Problems

At a Caring Approach in Reston, Va., we work with couples and families to decrease stress, and to improve communication and relationship satisfaction.

Although relationship problems can vary, there are a few underlying issues common to most conflicts.Problems can exist in areas having to do with money, intimacy, communication, sex, support, gender, housework, loyalties to family, friends, work, children, autonomy, values, trust, drugs/alcohol, closeness, power, etc. It is vital, however, always to ask, “What are we really fighting about?” Is there a deeper issue or problem beneath the apparent one? When we keep arguing about the same thing time after time, that is a signal that there is an underlying problem that needs attention.

Use the material in the boxes to identify deeper issues. In our couples counseling and marriage counseling in Reston, Va., we have found this model to be extremely useful.

Feeling Loved:
Lack of appreciation, love, fondness, intimacy, self-disclosure and trust

Feeling Seen:
Not feeling seen; not feeling accepted; feeling critized, blamed, judged

Feeling understood or cared for:
Not feeling cared for or understood; concerns about support, needs, affection, and loyalty/commitment

Feeling empowered:
Not feeling empowered; control/power imbalances; win/loose attitudes in conflict resolution; concerns about survival

Feeling important and valued:
Not feeling valued, special or important to our partner; issues of autonomy and validation

In the next section, you can read about some of the important skills and resources that can be used to address some of the issues outlined above.

Carlos Durana Ph.D., M.Ac. offers counseling in Reston, Virginia, Washington, DC, and Bethesda, Maryland.

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