Relationship Problems and How to Solve Them (cont.)

Money problems can start even before the wedding vows are said, from the expenses of courtship to the high cost of weddings. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) recommends that couples who have money woes take a deep breath and have a serious conversation about finances.

Problem-solving strategies: The NFCC offers the following advice for having that much-needed financial conversation:

  • Be honest about your current financial situation. If things have gone south, continuing the same lifestyle that was possible before the loss of income is simply unrealistic.

  • Don't approach the subject in the heat of battle. Instead, set aside a time that is convenient and non-threatening for both parties.

  • Acknowledge that one partner may be a saver and one a spender, understanding that there are benefits to both, and agreeing to learn from each other's tendencies.

  • Don't hide income or debt. Bring financial documents, including a recent credit report, pay stubs, bank statements, insurance policies, debts, and investments to the table.

  • Don't blame.

  • Construct a joint budget that includes savings.

  • Decide which person will be responsible for paying the monthly bills.

  • Allow each person to have independence by setting aside money to be spent at his or her discretion.

  • Decide upon short-term and long-term goals. It's OK to have individual goals, but you should have family goals, too.

  • Talk about caring for your parents as they age, and how to appropriately plan for their financial needs, if necessary.

Relationship Problem: Struggles Over Home Chores

Nowadays, most partners work outside the home -- and in today's economy -- often at more than one job, so it's important to equitably divide the labor at home, says Paulette Kouffman Sherman, PhD. She is the author of Dating from the Inside Out: How to Use the Law of Attraction in Matters of the Heart.

Problem-solving strategies:

  • Be organized and clear about your respective jobs in the home, Sherman says. "Write all the jobs down and agree on who does what." Be fair: Make sure each partner's tasks are equitable so no resentment builds.

  • Be open to other solutions, Sherman adds: If you both hate housework, maybe you can spring for a cleaning service. If one of you likes housework, the other partner can do the laundry and the yard. As long as it feels fair to both people, you can be creative and take preferences into account.

Relationship Problem: Not Prioritizing Your Relationship

If you want to keep your love life going, making your relationship a focal point does not end when you say "I do." "Relationships lose their luster," says Karen Sherman, PhD, author of Marriage Magic! Find It, Keep It, and Make It Last. "So make yours a priority."

Problem-solving strategies:

  • Do the things you used to do when you were first dating: Make gestures of appreciation, compliment each other, contact each other through the day, and show interest in each other.

  • Plan date nights. Schedule time together on the calendar just as you would any other important event in your life.

  • Respect one another. Say "thank you," and "I appreciate ... ." It lets your partner know that he/she matters.

Relationship Problem: Conflict

Occasional conflict is an inevitable part of life, says New York-based psychologist Susan Silverman, PhD, but if you and your partner feel like you are starring in your own nightmare version of the movie Groundhog Day, it's time to break free of this toxic routine. Recognizing these simple truths will lessen anger and enable you to take a calm look at the underlying issue.

Problem-solving strategies:

Conflict resolution skills can help you and your partner learn to argue in a more constructive manner, says Silverman, who offers this advice:

  • You are not a victim. It is your choice whether to react and how to react.

  • Be honest with yourself. When you're in the midst of an argument, are your comments directed toward resolution, or are you looking for payback? If your comments are blaming and hurtful, it's best to take a deep breath and change your strategy.

  • Change it up. If you continue to respond in the same way that has brought you pain and unhappiness in the past, you can't expect a different result this time. Just one little shift can make a big difference. If you usually jump right in to defend yourself before your partner is finished speaking, hold off for a few moments. You'll be surprised at how such a small shift in tempo can change the whole tone of an argument.

  • Give a little; get a lot. Apologize when you're wrong. Sure it's tough, but just try it and watch something wonderful happen. "You can't control anyone else's behavior," Silverman says. "The only one in your charge is you."

Relationship Problem: Trust

Trust is an essential part of a relationship. Are there certain behaviors that are causing you to not trust your partner, or do you have unresolved issues that are hindering you from trusting others?

Problem-solving strategies: You and your partner can develop trust in each other by following these tips, suggested by Fay.

  • Be consistent.

  • Be on time.

  • Do what you say you will do.

  • Don't lie -- not even little white lies, to your partner or to others.

  • Be fair, even in an argument.

  • Be sensitive to the other's feelings. You can still disagree but don't discount how your partner is feeling.

  • Call when you say you will.

  • Call to say you'll be home late.

  • Carry your fair share of the workload.

  • Don't overreact when things go wrong.

  • Never say things you can't take back.

  • Don't dig up old wounds.

  • Respect your partner's boundaries.

  • Don't be jealous.

  • Be a good listener.