Top 10 Challenges Couples Face in Forming and Sustaining Healthy Relationships and Marriages
1. Lack of Role Models: Many couples have never seen what a healthy relationship looks like due to not having any role models growing up. Often their view of what “healthy” looks like is distorted so they have a hard time forming and sustaining a relationship.
2. Stress of Multiple Obligations: Parenting, work, education, legal obligations, etc. often take priority over having a healthy relationship.
3. Lack of Communication Skills: “Learning how to validate each other’s thoughts and feelings (even when different from one another), how to fight fair, and how to be compassionate to their partner and/or children are very helpful skill to have in relationships. Unfortunately, many people don’t know how helpful and useful it can be to focus on building these skills. So getting people motivated to learn these relationship skills before they have hurt each other (and others) so deeply that they don’t even want to try is the challenge.” – Brooke Arnold & Ted N. Strader, COPES, Inc., Louisville, KY
4. Ghosts of Past Relationships: Couples have to “unlearn” old patterns and learn new models for smart dating, marriage and fertility decisions.
5. Media Influence on Participants' Perception of Healthy Relationships Our perception of what healthy relationships look like and how to achieve them are shaped, in part, by the media.
6. Addictive Behaviors Drugs, alcohol and other addictions can distort our personality, values and the way we treat others.
7. Lack of Introspection or Willingness to Look at Individual Issues that Need to Change: Individuals have difficulty sorting out what is their own part in unhealthy relationships and relationship failure and do not identify a target for personal behavior change.
8. Trust issues: Dealing with the hurt and pain of past and current relationships. Many couples need more intensive therapy or couples therapy to address issues of infidelity, domestic violence, childhood trauma and abuse, etc.
9. Finances: Poor credit; lack of money management knowledge; using money as a power differential; debt; child support and financial obligations for children from past relationships; fear of committing to relationship without having everything “together” financially; or no clear plan for getting things “together” financially.
10. Lack of a support system, such as married friends, and a lack of ongoing community support. “Stepcouples, especially, need longer term help and support." – Jennifer L Baker, PsyD, LMFT, Center for Professional Solutions, The School of Professional Psychology at Forest Institute, Springfield, MO.