The Five Most Common Relationship Conflicts Couples Have

January 14, 2019
Among the most common conflicts current couples have, lack of realism stands out. In a couple, love isn't the answer to everything.

The most common relationship conflicts couples have nowadays are very different from those our grandparents had. Relationships have changed drastically in these last three or four decades. In fact, new sources of conflict have emerged since gender roles and family structures have transformed.

As of now, there’s a set of emotional demands that didn’t exist before. In the past, the roles of friends, spouses, lovers, or partners weren’t as predominant and fundamental. However, society has now established the idea couples have to meet certain emotional, sexual, social, and even philosophical expectations. And this can be overwhelming.

That would explain why the most common relationship conflicts couples have now are related to limits. People are confused regarding intimacy, independence, freedom, and commitment. There are also demands for fulfillment and happiness that aren’t easy to meet.

1. Lack of intimacy

Man with a hand on his head.

Many couples who go to therapy state that they feel that their partner doesn’t understand them. In those cases, the therapist will try to improve communication in the relationship.

Nowadays, it seems that there are many people who don’t want their partner to see them vulnerable. They don’t feel comfortable talking about their fears or weaknesses, nor do they feel that their partner will be able to understand them. It’ll be hard to have sincere and authentic conversations when there’s not enough trust. We can’t forget that intimacy is all about mutual trust.

2. Control

In theory, the importance of gender roles has decreased in the last couple of years, making relationships much more stable and equal. However, according to María José Carranza, a psychologist at the University of Barcelona, couples nowadays still maintain very rigid patterns that lead to inequality and resentment.

That’s why one of the most common relationship conflicts couples have is that one of the two partners wants to take absolute control. For example, a couple where the man makes all the decisions and the woman only follows his orders. Another case may be that one partner is protective and the other only is protected. This is why it’s common for one of the two partners to end up feeling small or insignificant. In fact, in many cases, they can become depressed, which doesn’t motivate the other person to change the relationship dynamics.

Couple turning their back on each other.

3. Differentiation

Differentiation is the process of separating from one’s birth family when we get married. Before, although newlywed couples maintained a strong bond with the extended family, everyone knew the couple needed independence and a certain distance.

However, things have changed. Both birth families affect couples greatly nowadays. The siblings have opinions on every fight they have, their grandparents end up raising their grandchildren, the uncles and aunts help, etc. In practice, there is no real differentiation from the birth families. This is one of the most common relationship conflicts in today’s world.

4. Attachment

Many people reach adulthood with attachment problems. No one has a perfect childhood, and many people have some scars from that life stage. Maybe our caregivers were too clingy or perhaps they didn’t care about us at all and we’ve always felt like we lacked affection because of it.

The truth is that each one of us has to work on healing those scars. If we don’t do this, we can end up projecting all of these issues onto our relationship.

A couple with common relationship conflicts.

5. Definition of commitment

This is one of those postmodern issues that constitutes one of the most common relationship conflicts in couples nowadays. Sometimes, people decide to go out constantly and have sex with a person without having a relationship with them. Some people may have been together for years and have children, but aren’t married and don’t live together. Other people get married and then divorced but have occasional sex.

Agreeing on the type of commitment has become a challenging task. Some couples argue that labeling their relationship can threaten each partner’s freedom.

The most common relationship conflicts couples have now have led to many breakups. As of now, a lot of people reject and even detest the thought of “traditional love”. This means that plenty of couples today seek commitment and security but decide to disregard society’s relationship expectations.